Natural dog soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars

UPDATE 13/8/2020: this post has been updated after careful research on the use of essential oils on dogs. Many essential oils are considered to be NOT SAFE and even TOXIC to dogs, but also just as important, dogs have a very acute sense of smell, and for these reasons I have decided not to use essential oils in this formulation. Thank you to every one who has made me aware of this!

With the weather warming up (finally!) and summer approaching here in New Zealand, we also find ourselves battling some unwanted visitors in our dogs’ furs. Fleas love warm and humid weather, and it’s practically impossible to avoid them. It is a battle I fight every spring, even if our dog (see picture below) seems to be less disturbed by them than my thought of him having fleas.


I have been asked several times for a specially formulated dog soap, and knowing how expensive some of the dog shampoos and soaps can be, and that not all of the are good for our canine friends, I set about to find out more about dogs’ skins and coats, and what is good and not good for them. So after some research, formulating and tweaking, I have come up with a soap recipe that will not only keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny, but will also keep those fleas at bay!

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!


ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.


TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until the oil and butter has completely melted.

I’ve added shea butter to the recipe because it helps to condition and maintain a balanced skin. I find it also helps with dogs who have sensitive skins and those who have been over-treated with harsh shampoos. Dogs have a more alkaline skin than humans, which is why their skins can be quite sensitive and reactive, and why it is particularly important to use the right products on their furs.


THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it a quick stir.


FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. When the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).

FIVE: Add two tablespoons of neem oil to the soap. Neem oil is a well-known insect repellent, which is why you find it in many dog shampoos and soaps. What might be lesser well-known is that neem oil is also wonderful  for the skin because of its anti-flammatory properties. Again, particular beneficial for dogs with sensitive skins. In addition, both neem oil and castor oil help promote a shiny coat.


SIX: Keep stick blending the soap mixture until it has thickened to a medium trace. Then pour it in your soap mold and leave it to harden in the mold for several days.


SEVEN: After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Please note that neem oil has a very strong scent, but this WILL mellow out a bit once the soap cures. You can also replace the neem oil with karanja oil, which has similar properties to neem oil and a milder scent.

Natural dog soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!


  • 500 g olive oil
  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 100 g sunflower oil
  • 100 g shea butter
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 138 g caustic soda
  • 270 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 2 tablespoons neem oil


  1. Measure out 270 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
  2. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  3. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter has melted.
  4. Add the olive oil, sunflower oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a quick stir.
  5. If the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  6. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the neem oil.
  8. Keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  9. Pour the soap into the mold and leave to harden for several days.
  10. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 8 weeks until ready for use.


  1. Is it necessary to use pomace olive oil with this recipe, or will the cheaper olive oil from the supermarket work?

    • Hi Rachel! I use pomace olive oil because it’s one of the lowest quality olive oils, but depending on where you are, it might not be the cheapest. Here in NZ it is one of the cheapest olive oils, but if it’s not the cheapest for you, then definitely go for the cheapest olive oil you can find. It will all be turned into soap molecules, so using expensive oils is a total waste in soap. Just make sure it’s 100% olive oil and not a blend of olive oil with other vegetable oils. Happy soaping!

    • Here are the percentages:
      500 g olive oil (50%)
      250 g coconut oil (25%)
      100 g sunflower oil (10%)
      100 g shea butter (10%)
      50 g castor oil (5%)

  2. Good afternoon.
    What essential oils (and how much of it) can be used for dogs please? I’m about to make some flea soap bars and some for sensitive skin. Many thanks

    • Essential oils should never be used on dogs. Essential oils are highly concentrated and even common ones like mint and citrus essential oils are toxic to dogs. Essential oils are absorbed through their skin, but dogs also lick themselves. Obviously a shampoo bar gets rinsed off, so the licking part is not as problematic, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind when formulating products for our furbabies!

    • Yes, you can omit it. It’s added to help harden the bar. Sodium lactate is a natural liquid salt derived from fermented sugar beets (I know weird, eh?), but you can either leave it out completely, or you can replace it with 1 teaspoon non-iodised salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. The sugar is needed because common table salt is a lather inhibitor, meaning less foam. Sugar is a foam booster!

  3. Hi I don’t want 10 bars of soap so if I just halved your recipe would this work ok? I am new to sosp making so still feeling my way @

    • Dogs have a pH closer to neutral than us humans. Our skin has a pH of around 5.5-6. However, you cannot make a soap that is lower than a pH of 8 – chemically it wouldn’t be soap anymore. To reduce the pH, I have added extra oils plus it has a high superfat as well. It is always important not to lather too much and make sure you rinse well to remove any remaining soap. I also only washed the dog when he got very dirty.

  4. do you have a hot process dog soap at all by chance please? i do hot process and im really struggling to find a base recipe i can work off. Or can i just convert this into a hot process one by using the same amounts but just do it the hot process way?
    Many thanks for any help 🙂
    P.S. I am new to the hot process method but everyone loved my melt and pour dog shampoo bars so i want to create a really nice hot process one eventually.

    • Hi Krystle! You can use the same recipe, but add 10% extra water (for the cook) and at the end add 1 tablespoon of yoghurt or sodium lactate, which will make it less gloopy and easier to pour. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Krystle,

      I made this recipe using hot process and it came out really well. Good luck on your hot process journey

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.