Dry shampoo or waterless shampoo can be a good way to keep your dog fresh smell between baths. But does it work, and it is safe?

Dry shampoos are much more convenient, but just like ‘regular’ dog shampoo, dry products can be overused and can contain a toxic mix of chemicals and additives that are harmful to your Morkie and to you.

Dry — or waterless– shampoo comes in a wide range of formats, including Sprays, Aerosol, Powder, Foam, and Mousse.


All work with alcohol or starch-based formulas to absorb grease and oil from the hair.

They work cosmetically to make hair or fur look cleaner, but the scalp isn’t cleaned by these products. And whatever is absorbed, sits on the hair, along with the shampoo product. That residue can build up over time, making hair brittle and easy to break. Too much residue on the scalp can lead to inflammation, itching, scaling and reduced hair growth.

Does waterless shampoo work on dogs?

The main reason we pick this convenient way to clean our dogs is to reduce the smell.

All the products do that to varying degrees but they’re a temporary fix. 

Manufacturers are enthusiastic about the miraculous results their products deliver, but in reality, dry shampoo doesn’t really clean an animal; it can’t repel dirt and oil. It simply absorbs the oils on the coat.

Dry shampoo just sits on the coat until the next bath

Since it doesn’t get rinsed off, that oil and product just sit there on the coat.

That’s ok for the occasional cleanup or emergency but should be alternated with ‘real’ water-based shampooing to actually remove the dirt, oil, and debris.

Dry shampoo can be more convenient, but does it really work?

upset, wet dog

As expert Julie Anne Lee DCH RCSHom reminds us in DogsNaturallyMagazine.com,

the skin is the largest organ in the body, protecting your dog from everything in the world.

It’s a barrier and a defense against germs, bacteria, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sunburn and much more.

Washing it too often, or covering it up with toxic ingredients, is harmful to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.  We’re encouraged to do both thanks to –the Fear Factor perpetuated by marketers, that says everything must be perfectly clean and sterile! 

Like the hand sanitizer rebound

This Fear Factor tactic was used to sell more hand sanitizer products, and that has failed us because we’re making germs and bacteria more resistant than ever. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that overexposure to antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance, making it more difficult or even impossible to treat. Using hand sanitizers may actually lower your resistance to diseases by killing good bacteria, which helps protect against bad bacteria. 

This is the same principle for bathing your dog: don’t do it too often, otherwise, you’re removing good bacteria and beneficial oils.

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How safe is waterless shampoo?

Dry shampoos can be a toxic, soupy mess!

Pet products like shampoos don’t fall under any regulatory rules or laws about contents. Manufacturers can use just about anything. And they’re not obliged to tell the truth on the label, so it’s hard to find safe products.

Some of the dangerous ingredients in dry shampoos include:

  • Preservatives, FD&C Blue #1 (artificial colors) and Fragrance (artificial fragrance). These are all directly linked to cancer.
  • Ammonium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, which is often contaminated with known cancer-causing compounds.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine which can trigger immune system failure, and allergies. 
  • The ingredients that make the product absorbent, including Ethanol, can help other toxins get absorbed into your dog’s system 


A better way for a fast cleanup

If your Morkie needs a quick clean up, thoroughly brushing his hair will go a long way in freshening him up. You can also dip his feet in water and dog shampoo for a rinse; a dog’s feet can be a significant source of stink since that’s where they sweat.

If you’re using a waterless shampoo or wipes, be sure to look for products like Burt’s Bees, below.  They’re free of Phthalates, artificial color and fragrance, and petroleum by-products. 

Look for products like Burt’s Bees, free from artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives and other toxins.

cups to rinse dogs paws

These cups are handy for rinsing dog’s paws.

But relaxing Morkie in a pink robe, pretending to be at a spa

A thorough combing can freshen your Morkie.

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