From 4-Legger® - Makers of 4-Legger USDA Certified Organic Dog Shampoo

learn about ingredients in dog shampoo

Pet Shampoo Ingredients Common Terminology

Terminology in dog shampoo ingredients can be very confusing if you don't know what the words mean. We've created simple definitions of each word to make it easy to understand (and of course if you still have a question you can contact us)! 

Substances that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules made by the process of oxidation during normal cell metabolism). Free radicals can cause signs of aging in skin. 

Using the aromas of essential oils and natural extracts (fragrant essential oils from flowers or fruits) for therapeutic purposes - like the use of an aroma to enhance well being. 

Means an ingredient can be broken down into harmless (non-toxic) elements naturally. This word is often mis-used by saying an ingredient is biodegradable in water. That is not possible and why NO shampoo/soap should be used in rivers and streams. They should be used on soil so the product can biodegrade (break down). 

Chelating Agents
Chelating agents are ingredients that bind with metal ions or metallic compounds, preventing contamination or discoloration. They improve the efficacy of preservatives & antioxidants & play a crucial role in the stability & efficacy of personal skin care products.

Made with synthetic ingredients, it is a water-soluble cleaning agent which combines with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble.

Means an ingredient is not safe for the environment. 


Ingredients that soften and smooth the skin & reduce dryness, roughness & irritation – they are designed to make the external layers of the skin softer & more pliable. They increase the skin's hydration by reducing evaporation.

An emulsifier is used when you want to mix two components & keep them from separating. Emulsifiers enable oils to be dispersed throughout a water base to form a cream or lotion that does not separate.

This is a system in which two liquids that would not normally mix together are held in suspension by a small amount of an emulsifier.

An exfoliant is used to remove dead skin cells that have accumulated on the surface of the skin. Dead skin cells, left on the surface of the skin, slow down healthy cell renewal.

A deep infection of the hair follicle leading to abscess formation with accumulation of pus and necrotic tissue. Furuncles appear on the hair-bearing parts of the skin and the infectious agent is Staphylococcus aureus. However, other bacteria may also cause it.

A blend of essential oils, extracts and synthetics added to a product to deliver an aroma.

Humectants are ingredients in products that draw moisture in. Products with humectants are great for dry skin because they will attract moisture that is both applied directly on the skin as well as environmental moisture, such as that which comes from highly humid environment.

Supply water to your skin. Plant liquids are the best source of beneficial hydrating agents including vegetable glycerin, aloe vera & water.

Saponins (Glycosides) 
Substances that readily foam in water (foam boosters).

The oily and waxy substance created naturally by the sebaceous glands, in the middle layers of the skin, near hair follicles. The sebum naturally protects and moisturizes the skin. Too much sebum and the coat will be oily.

A liquid containing detergent or soap. 

A natural cleaning agent made with saponified oils. It can be USDA Certified Organic. 

Compounds that create surface tension to break down dirt and other impurities, due to their ability to dissolve the barrier between dirt, oil, and water.