Dog soap for sensitive skin

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins
Yields: 6 small soaps

Skin pH is a tricky thing. And while certain ingredients used in soaps and shampoos might be great for our skin and hair, it doesn’t mean it’s also good for our canine friends and can cause itching, flakiness and be generally irritating to a dog.

Human skin has a pH level on the acidic side, around 5.5, which helps us combat germs and infection on our skin. Dogs, however, have a much more neutral skin pH, between 6.5 and 8, which is why it so important to use the right products for dogs as not to irritate their skin.

I always test a soap or any product that is designated for use on dogs. Since soaps have a tendency to be slightly more alkaline, a good trick is to add citric acid. One teaspoon of citric acid to 1000 g of soap can bring the pH down approximately by 0.5. So you don’t need much.

This recipe is formulated especially for our fur babies with sensitive skin, and contains shea butter, colloidal oatmeal and castor oil, which will help balance and soothe the skin.


ONE: Cut the soap into small cubes and add them to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 20 second bursts, until the soap has melted. Try to avoid the soap from reaching boiling point!

I am using shea butter melt and pour soap base, from Pure Nature, because shea butter is great for dry and sensitive skins and helps balance and nourish the skin. Alternatively, you can also use the triple butter soap base, which is more nourishing, or the SLS-free soap base, for very sensitive skins.

TWO: Mix together two teaspoons of colloidal oatmeal, 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid and 1 teaspoon of castor oil, and then add the mixture to the soap. (In the picture I added the oatmeal directly to the soap, and as you can see it has formed clumps, which despite whisking furiously, I couldn’t make disappear). Oatmeal has been used throughout time to soothe dry, irritated and inflamed skin. In addition, it is also full of skin-loving vitamins and minerals, which help nourish the skin. I’m also adding castor oil, which is also known to help restore skin’s moisture balance and helps promote a healthy, shiny coat. And the citric acid will bring down the pH of the soap.


FOUR: Give everything a good stir to ensure everything is well dispersed throughout the soap and then pour it into your mold. I’m using little paw molds that I found on AliExpress. Leave the soaps to harden for a few hours before unmolding. Make sure you package these soaps into little cello bags or glad wrap, because these melt and pour soap bases attract humidity and little beads of moisture will form on the surface if not properly packaged.

PS if you like this cool dog paw mould, I got it from AliExpress 😉

Dog soap for sensitive skin

  • Difficulty: beginners
  • Print


  • 240g shea butter melt and pour soap base
  • 2 teaspoon colloidal oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon castor oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon citric acid


  1. Cut the soap into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 20 second bursts until melted.
  3. Mix 2 teaspoon of colloidal oatmeal, 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid, and 1 teaspoon of castor oil together and add to the melted soap. Mix well.
  4. Pour the soap into  your soap mold and leave to set and harden before unmolding.
  5. Package the soap into little cello bags or glad wrap.


  1. Hi I have heard some dogs can be intolerant to wheat, so is the oatmeal gong to be safe for that type of dog? or could I use gluten free oatmeal?

    • My apologies for the late reply. The oatmeal in soap is fine for dogs as it is a rinse off product and doesn’t remain on the skin, or more importantly it won’t be ingested. Additionally, you may not realise but oats are actually gluten free, and many people with coeliac disease can eat oats without problems. Oats contain a protein called avenin, which is similar to gluten but not the same. The problem with oats is that they are often processed on the same equipment as gluten-containing grains, leading to cross contamination. Gluten-free oats are basically just pure oats that have been processed in facilities that avoid cross-contamination.

  2. My daughter and I made this soap just yesterday. Her one dog seems to be allergic to everything, and his skin sometimes is very red and itchy, so we’re hoping this shampoo bar helps him! I chose an SLS-free soap, per your recommendation, and also substituted 1/2 tsp of vitamin E oil in place of 1/2 tsp castor oil. The resulting soap was VERY thick. Is this normal, or was my substitution a bad idea? My soap may have been a little short also, since I had trouble weighing it. Not much, maybe 8 grams short.

    • Hi Shar! I’m not quite sure what the reason is for the thick consistency. It could be a number of things. It could be the soap base that you were using. The soap may not have been sufficiently melted. Or as you said, the amount of soap vs the other ingredients wasn’t correct. The added coloidal oats will thicken the mixture already, so having not enough of the fluid ingredients will thicken it considerably. And lastly, the soap could have cooled down during the making, and have started to solidify already. I hope this helps for when you make it again! PS if your dog is very itchy, I would suggest not washing/bathing your dog at all, and only when he is really dirty. Sometimes itchiness and irritated skin in dogs is due to frequent washing. Dog skin is very sensitive and not really made for washing. Dogs keep their fur clean by ‘dirt bathing’. Unfortunately not quite how we humans like it though!

    • Hi Shar!

      I agree with Jackie, frequent bathing may just aggravate the skin issue. I have a beagle named Jewel with a similar issue and I found that dusting a powder made of colloidal oatmeal and French green clay (1:1) helps in soothing the skin and reducing the redness & itching. Once the issue settles down, which may take a few days of application, I give Jewel a bath with soap made from Jackie’s dog soap recipe 🙂 Just make sure the powder is not licked by your pet. Green clay will stain, A patch test would be necessary.
      Hope this helps.

    • Hi Mary! You can just leave it out if you don’t have castor oil. The oats are the most important ingredient in this soap.

  3. Hello, thank you for your article, knowledge, and recipe!
    I’m NOT a “DIYer” but I try hard for my fur babies. I rescued a mini bull who was severely neglected and abused. She barely had any fur left and her poor skin was covered in… well, I don’t exactly know what!
    After many trips to the vet, her back teeth literally falling out randomly on the floor, a full dental, (And I believe she’s only 3 or 4), trying to determine what allergies she has, getting her on a very limited ingredient vet prescription food, and lots & lots of love, (just as much from my sweet girl- and next we’re on to PT)!
    We are proud to report a year later her fur has grown almost entirely back and her skin is doing awesome!! She still has some patches on her back, that even though her hair covers now, I’m still trying to clear up. I *think* these patches are dry skin- it’s hard to tell bc we think she just had sensitive skin, in addition to all of that, she will always have a limp due to a previous surgery that has left her with some scars/weird looking patches that will always be there around her hips.

    I’ve been using oatmeal and Shea, but you could you please tell me what soap do I use to cut up and what soap base you are referring to? Can I use anything that says it’s “citric acid”? Any link to Amazon would be so beyond helpful and appreciated I can’t even express how much. I’ve learned the hard way this year that not all products are created equal! And with my girl I have to be one of those dog moms that even I think are a bit ridiculous!

    Also, if it’s not too much trouble, I’m trying to make her a “comfort stick” using deodorant tubes I bought. Do you have any advice on what to put in them and how to make? Again, not a DIYer here, so go easy with me and feel free to talk to me like a 5 year old!
    Again, any direct amazon links will be so much appreciated… bc half the time I can’t figure out what I’m looking for, even after I know what product to look for, then I can’t figure out what’s a good brand or product to actually buy. No clue Shea butter could be so hard to pick out??
    I always say, it takes a village! I feel like I’ve needed a state to me to help my sweet Dacia. She’s worth every single bit of it! I’ve been using a “doggie shampoo wet brush” very gently that seems to be really helping.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, for your time and thoughts/ recommendations,

    Shawna and Dacia

    • Hi Shawna and Dacia! Poor doggie and what a wonderful person you are to take her in and looking after her so well. You are truly amazing! Just to let you know, I am in no way an expert or even qualified in dog care. I just love animals and I do my best to look after mine as best as I can. What I do know about dogs is that they have a different pH to our skin. Theirs is much closer to neutral (7) than ours (5.5-6.5). And their skin is usually much better equipped to stay in balance naturally, but also quick to react (negatively) to skin products like soap and oils. I think using oatmeal and shea butter is probably the best thing you are doing for Dacia already. That’s probably what I’d be doing too. Shea butter is one of the most nutritious butters/oils, with around 15% being vitamins, minerals, phyto-sterols etc. Most oils have less than 1%. Rather than a comfort stick, I would keep just gently rubbing a bit of shea butter into her dry patches, which keep using the wet brush after to help remove some of that dry skin. I don’t know of any other products though, unfortunately. If you do want to use other products, I’d avoid dog products, because many of them are really unsuitable and would be too harsh on her skin. You could look at things like baby nappy rash balms or the ones that they use to remove cradle cap. Look for ingredients like calendula, chamomile and such. I hope this helps!

      • Thank you for your response!
        Yes, I couldn’t love my babies any more!
        But, honesty, I’m the lucky one! Clearly, I’m a huge animal lover of all kinds as well- they are able to give us so much more… or such a different perception on love and life, than human to human relationships. They are very good teachers. The human/animal bond is amazing to me.
        I don’t really use a lot pet products unless recommended by my vet, especially with my Dacia. She’s not only teaching me about how to love unconditionally and selflessly, now she’s teaching me to be better at DIY products!
        I am very, very familiar with our skin, but I didn’t know the pH of dogs skin. Luckily I can apply what I know about our skin to make sense of her skin.
        That’s a great idea. I definitely look into the baby balms you mentioned!! I use a ton of Shea butter, calendula, and chamomile for myself already!
        I bought some Our Earth’s Secrets Goats Milk Melt and Pour Soap Base for her and will continue the Shea and oatmeal.
        Have you ever heard of soaking a dogs paws with water & epsom salt? The rescue we got her from was doing this due to the awful condition of her paws.
        Thank you so much for your feedback! Happy holidays!

  4. I don’t understand why if they have pH 6 to 8 you use citric acid to lower it and acidify it. It would not be, on the contrary, to place something alkaline so that the
    ph !?

    • Hi Erica! The pH of our skin and those of animals is in a very precious balance, which is optimised for that particular animal or for us. It serves to protect us from infections as its main function. Soaps are cleansers and normally have a pH of around 9.5, which is very high. A dog’s skin is more sensitive than our skin (surprisingly), because it is more neutral than ours. Adding anything extra to a dog’s skin, alkaline or acidic, will upset the balance of the skin. Their skin and fur function to keep their acid mantle in this optimal balance. Personally, I don’t advocate using soap at all on dogs, unless really dirty. Anyway, if you are using a product on a dog’s skin, you want it to be as close to its pH level as possible. This is why I’m bringing it down with the citric acid, but also with a superfat. The extra oil in the soap as well as the citric acid, will use up some of the soap molecules when you start lathering up the soap, leaving less (active/unbonded) soap molecules in the water/soap mixture. I hope this kind of makes sense. If you’re wondering why we use soap on our skin – it is actually also not good for our skin to use too much soap and too often. The milder a soap, the better for our skin!

    • When you use ready made soap bases, like this melt and pour soap, any extra oils added will only seep out. So unfortunately, you can’t add it to the soap. Sorry!

    • I use a similarly based soap on my pugs and put tea tree and lavender in them. Top of my head, I can’t remember how much of each. BUT, if you Google how much is safe of each oil for pets and do below that, you’ll be fine. The soaps hold the oil just fine. I also sell them and they sell very well. Many people love them. Essential oils and all.

      • Yep, lavender is fine, and I would use it at the amounts you would use for children. I wouldn’t use tea tree oil on dogs, as it is actually poisonous to them, but in soap, it’s probably diluted to such low concentrations that you’ve been fine until now. As a precaution, I wouldn’t actually sell them with tea tree oil in them, just to be on the safe side (liability). Hope this helps!

  5. STOP!!! PLEASE LISTEN! Peppermint and lemongrass are toxic to dogs!
    I make these bars for a dog groomer friend of mine (minus those two ingredients) and she LOVES them.
    So PLEASE change the recipe before someone’s fur friend gets hurt!

    • HI Candace & Jackie, Would really appreciate if you could please recommend safe essential oils to add to this recipe to repel ticks & fleas. I want to use it for my beagle who gets seizures and cannot be given oral medications like Bravecto to prevent fleas and ticks. Many thanks.

      • Hi Janvi! To be on the safe side, I wouldn’t use any essential oils. However, you can use neem oil, which is apparently also effective against ticks and fleas. I hope that helps!

      • Many thanks Jackie! Appreciate your suggestion. Would half a teaspoon of neem oil be sufficient?

      • Thank you Jackie! Will follow your advice regarding neem oil. On another note, I read a blog which mentioned lye is not good for dog skin, liquid Castile soap base is better. Is that so? I did make shea butter & oatmeal soap as per your recipe without the essential oils and gave my beagle Jewel a bath and she seemed fine with it. Would love to know your thoughts on this. Many thanks and I really appreciate your work and inputs.

      • She would have been fine without the essential oils. In fact, less is always better, for both humans and our furry friends. The more components we combine, the more chance of reactions we can have. Oatmeal is an excellent choice for sensitive skin. Regarding the lye: lye is not good for any skin – it’s caustic 😉 But I’m guessing that the author meant soaps produced with lye. When you make soap, you use oils and lye, which when combined react in a chemical reaction called saponification. Both the oils and the lye molecules are broken down into and then rearranged into soap and glycerine molecules. I always like to imagine it like lego: you have a house, but you want a boat. So you break down the lego house into lego blocks, and then build a boat out of them. I hope that makes sense! Liquid castile soap is made exactly the same way. Using olive oil and lye, you make a soap paste, which is then diluted with water. The author might be buying their castile soap already made, but it would have been made initially using lye as well. Thank you for your nice comments and I’m glad you’re getting some use out of it!

      • Thank you Jackie for your wonderful explanation regarding lye & castile soap. Makes so much sense.

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