A Guide to Sustainable Dog Grooming for a PAWowderful World

A Guide to Sustainable Dog Grooming for a PAWowderful World

10 minutes to read

Woman wiping down dog after grooming

Many are lucky to love and be loved by their pets, from dogs and cats to the smallest pocket pal to feathered friends and aquatic allies. In fact, according to Forbes Advisor, sixty-six percent (66%) of  U.S. households own a pet and 65.1 million of those alone being dogs! Loving a pet comes with a ton of responsibility, not to mention thinking about the environment. Good nutrition, veterinary check-ups, pet training, vaccines; the list goes on! 

Having the right pet care, especially when it comes to grooming and hygiene is so important to the health and quality of life of our furry friends. It's not easy but don't worry! In this guide, we’ll explore all those sustainable dog grooming practices, some eco-friendly grooming products you can try with your friend, on top of techniques you can do at home for an easy, safe and beneficial environment for our fur baby and Mother Earth. 


Woman picking up dog poop

Why is Dog Grooming Important?

Dog grooming is one of the most important practices for overall health and well-being. Whether it’s a small amount of upkeep or a full spa day, taking time to care for our furry friends is rewarding overall.

Not to mention, learning and becoming skilled in grooming at home can be both money-saving and a better experience too! With the right eco-friendly pet products, consistent practiceand effort, you can make it both a sustainable and healthy.

Having a regular grooming schedule can be the best time for relaxation and a great opportunity to strengthen that bond with your fur baby. It's as simple as holding and touching of your pets build strong bonds and trust; a love language I'm sure most of us can relate to!

Not only is it a great experience for the both of you, but it also gives you the chance to spot any skin problems and coat conditions. It can even help you spot any abnormalities or parasites ahead of the curve, preventing health issues!

Woman hugging her dog at home

Being proative is key to the health of our best friends. From matting, shedding to allergies and dental issues, they'll be thankful for the extra love and care you give them. Having well-groomed or clean dogs also means a safe interaction between them and the family. We often cuddle, kiss, and, for some, sleep with them, so dog grooming is so necessary! 

How Can You Make Dog Grooming Sustainable?

While you surely can trust a groomer to help your pet out instead, traditional pet grooming leaves little control over the products and waste it creates. In fact, grooming your pets produces water waste from substantial consumption of water, about 10 to 20 gallons per session alone.

Add in the commercially offered shampoo, conditioners, and flea treatments with to that water and you have tons of chemicals that can lead to contaminating our waterways or even aquatic life. It can also be harmful for a dog's health if it's not the right fit for them, causing various skin, coat, eyes, and respiratory problems.

Those plastic bottles and packaging adds up and that's where you can step in! 

Dog and solid shampoo bar

Sustainable Dog Grooming refers to a regular dog's hygienic care with eco-friendly products, conservation practices, and environmental advocacy partnerships

It includes taking the time to choose the right pet products, from natural, organic, biodegradable, non-toxic ingredients and materials. Implementing water and energy conservation practices to using energy-efficient grooming tools can also be key to reducing your impact. The first step can start as small as composting your dog's waste and biodegradable poop bags.

As pet owners, we can partner to sustain a cleaner and greener PAWowderful world for future generations by supporting small local businesses, and companies, and advocating for environmental safety, eco-friendly products, and ethical treatment of animals and workers throughout the supply chain process!

What is Essential in a Dog Grooming Set?

Having the right dog grooming set is crucial to giving the right care and experience for you and your furry friend. The right kit includes key items needed to keep your dog's coat, skin, nails, ears, eyes and mouth in shape while considering sustainability, environmental impact, and responsibly sourced materials. 

The essential items you’ll need to start your home grooming session include:

  1. Dog Shampoo and Conditioner 

Pick out a shampoo and conditioner that's made from organic and natural ingredients. Here's a list of natural and organic dog shampoo and conditioner ingredients is below:

Dog Shampoo and Conditioner Natural Ingredients List

You want to pick ingredients substantially benefit your dog's skin and coat. Every dog is different and you'll want to cater to their needs as best as possible!

For example, neem oil has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

  • Argan oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant properties and essential fatty acids that act as a natural conditioner on the hair.
  • Aloe vera has hydrating and healing properties that soothe itching dry and minor skin problems.
  • Oatmeal and jojoba oil have soothing and moisturizing properties that calm irritated or sensitive skin.
  • Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, calming, and relaxing properties that are good for dog's sensitive or irritated skin.
  • Tea tree oil has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. 

What you want to avoid are artificial fragrances, colours and preservatives in dog shampoos as they may cause skin irritations and allergies, and a string of other health issues.

Dog Shampoo and Conditioner Ingredients to Avoid

Artificial colors to watch out for: 

  • FD&C Red No. 40 (Allura Red) 
  • FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brillant Blue FCF) 
  • Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) 
  • FD&C Green No. 3 (Fast Green FCF) 
  • D&C Orange No.4 (Acid Orange) 

Opting for a natural dog shampoo bar with simple but concentrated plant-based ingredients can be a great option for most dogs, especially when unscented.

  1. Brushes and Combs 

You'll want to use brushes and combs before, during, and after bathing sessions. Before bathing is a good trick to help remove loose fur and detangle knots to make bathing much easier. They also massage and lubricate dogs' skin by activating the pet's natural oils. 

Choose high-quality grooming brushes and combs made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, recycled plastics, natural rubber, natural fibers (coconut husk, sisal, horsehair), FSC wood products, cork, and food-grade silicone. 

Combs have varied types that are suitable for different types of dog coats and purposes.

Dog Brushes and Combs
  • Slicker brushes are used for medium-to-long-haired or curly dogs to remove tangles and mats. 
  • Bristle brush is used for smooth, short-haired dogs to remove loose hair and stimulate natural skin oil. 
  • A pin brush is a commonly used comb, like a human brush. It is best used to pick up loose hair before it gets on furniture and the floor. 
  • A rake or undercoat rake is used for thick, double-coated, or heavy-coated dogs. It efficiently removes tangles, dead coats, and debris. 
  • A flea comb helps remove fleas and their eggs. It is usually flat and has very narrow spacing in between. 
  • A pet comb is typically a rounded steel-tooth dog comb used to entangle dogs and smooth their coats. It comes in various types, with different spacing between the teeth to cater to other kinds of coats, including fine-toothed, medium-toothed, wide-toothed,  and combination combs. 
  1. Towel 

The dog towel is used to dry your dog after bathing and swimming. Various eco-friendly options include organic cotton towels, bamboo towels, recycled polyester or microfiber towels, and hemp towels. You might also want to consider buying a doormat, bathrobe, and dog towel as well.

Dog wrapped in bath towel

To make sure any fabric is free of harmful substances, look out for the for GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification for organic cotton or OEKO-TEX Standard 100. 

  1. Nail Clippers or Grinders 

Trimming a dog's nails is an essential aspect of grooming that should be done every 2 to 4 weeks. Untrimmed dog nails can lead to broken nails, affect mobility and posture, and cause discomfort and pain to your fur babies.

Owner clipping dog nails

If you're looking for something electric, clippers with rechargeable batteries and energy-efficient motors can be much more cost saving and effective. More manual clippers are always a reliable choice!

Consider buying a styptic powder or cornstarch for accidental nail-over tears, which stops light wounds from bleeding. 

  1. Ear and Eye Care 

Coconut oil and apple cider with water are natural ear cleansers for dogs. They help balance the pH of the dog's ears and have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

Using reusable cotton pads instead of cotton balls and dog wipes to remove accumulated dirt, wax buildup, and debris. They can be used weekly, monthly, or as needed with much less waste and trips to the store.

  1. Grooming Scissors  

Selecting grooming scissors made from recycled stainless steel or bamboo handles are a great reliable and sustainable option.

Depending on the type of cut and the dog's coat type, you might want to choose a specific type of scissors. For beginners, starting with straight and thinning scissors can help jumpstart your routine and build your confidence - you'll get the hang of it and figure our what your dog needs!

  1. Pet Grooming Anti-slip Mat 

Look for a large, flat piece of recycled rubber or cork to serve as the base of your anti-slip mat. These materials are eco-friendly and provide excellent grip on various surfaces. 

Pet owner applying shampoo on hand, giving her dog a bath

How to Make a Great Dog Grooming Experience at Home

Not all dogs love grooming, but it can be simple and stress-free! It is better to start short grooming sessions at a young age so that they can grow familiar with the routine.

Generally, puppies can start being groomed as early as 8 weeks old, when they're ready to be weaned from their mother and begin transitioning to more solid food. Setting a regular grooming schedule helps you prevent more intensive grooming sessions requiring more resources, time and treatment. 

Remember, patience and positive reinforcement are the keys to making grooming a positive and comfortable experience for our fury friends!

Pet Smart shares a few helpful tips and techniques for successful dog grooming at home that you can follow at home. Here's a comprehensive list we've come up with you can follow:

Bathing Tips

  • Prepare all necessary bath and grooming supplies before you start the bath Create a calm and positive atmosphere for grooming with your fur baby
  • Brush before bathing to remove loose fur and detangle any knots to make bathing easier
  • Wet the dog’s coat thoroughly with lukewarm water. Avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, ears, and nose
  • Diluting dog shampoo with water in a spray bottle makes spreading evenly on the dog's coat easier
  • Brush while rinsing thoroughly to wash out shampoo and debris on the dog’s coat
  • Dry your dog thoroughly using a towel and dog dryers
  • Give the final brush to ensure a smooth and tangle-free coat
  • Reward your dog with praise and treats to make a positive experience 
Dog owner massaging their dog with shampoo

Nail Trimming

  • Prepare nail clippers, nail files, styptic powder, and dog treats
  • Check your dog’s nails to assess how much needs to be trimmed
  • Hold your dog’s paw, position the clippers, and cut by a small section. Do not rush to avoid accidental cuts
  • Smooth rough edges using a nail file
  • After trimming each nail, reward your dog with praise and treats to keep them cooperative

Ears Cleaning

  • Prepare a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution, natural coconut oil, or apple cider vinegar diluted in water. Also, use reusable cotton pads, towels, and dog treats
  • Check the dog’s ears for redness, swelling, discharge, foul odour, or excessive scratching. If one of these is present, consult with a veterinarian before cleaning yourself at home
  • Apply ear cleaning solution by gently lifting your dog’s ear flap and squeezing enough. Do not let the bottle tip touch the ear to avoid contamination. Gently massage the base of the ear for about 20-30  seconds to loosen debris and wax
  • Let your dog shake their head
  • Wipe out debris with reusable cotton pads
  • Reward your dog with praise and treats
  • Repeat the process with another ear
Woman cleaning her pet's ear

Eye Cleaning 

  • Prepare vet-approved cleaning solution or saline solution. Reusable cotton pads, towels, and dog treats
  • Check the dog’s eyes for redness, swelling, discharge, cloudiness, or excessive tearing. If any of these are present, consult with the veterinarian before cleaning
  • Dampen reusable cotton pads with saline solution or eye cleaner. Gently wipe away any discharge, stains, or debris from the eyes
  • Reward your dog with praise and treats.

Hair Trimming 

  • Set up a grooming table in a comfortable, quiet, and well-lit area
  • Prepare the clippers, scissors, combs, and brushes
  • Make sure that your dog is calm and relaxed
  • Trim a small area and see how the dog reacts. If they're still anxious, take a break and try again
  • Use clippers for most of the trimming work. Use a blade guard to prevent skin cuts
  • Trim sensitive areas with rounded-tip scissors, such as around the face,  paws, and tail
  • Take regular breaks and dog treats to encourage cooperation
Smiling poodle with bucket hat, glasses, and a tropical shirt

Final Thoughts 

Sustainable dog grooming is one of the essential responsibilities of a pet owner. By adopting eco-friendly grooming products, water and energy conservation practices, waste reduction and environmental advocacy partnerships, we can minimize our carbon footprint and environmental impact. 

Grooming at home can be easy and delightful bonding moments with an eco-friendly dog grooming set/kit, knowledge, and a consistent pet care regimen. Together, we can create a PAWowderful world for our pets and the environment.

 Need a grooming set? Give this sustainable set a try!

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