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

Ingredient Name
Natural or Synthetic?
How Safe Is It?
Can It Be Organic?
Learn more
Calendula
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Calendula is excellent for cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and dry itchy skin! It increases the flow of blood and oxygen to that area to accelerate the healing process.
Carnauba Wax
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A natural vegetable wax obtained from the leaves of the Brazilian palm tree that grows un-endangered in native forests. Each year leaves are pruned by hand to harvest the leaves without harming the tree. To our knowledge there has never been an instance where this species of palm tree was threatened or posed a threat to the environment. Note this is not the same species of palm tree that palm oil is pressed from. The vegan carnauba wax is harder than other waxes but still helps to form a protective barrier to seal in moisture (it’s a natural humectant) while allowing the pores to breathe.
Castile Soap
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Made with saponified oils, is the most gentle all natural shampoo available on the market. It is the ONLY shampoo made with truly all natural ingredients and minimal processing. 

It can also be organic!
Caprylyl Glycol
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While naturally derived from coconut, palm, sunflower (etc) oil, it is considered a synthetic as it is a multi-step process to synthesize. The first step is saponification of oils to obtain the glycerin. The glycerin is then mixed with stearic acid, a fatty acid that comes from animal and vegetable fats and oils.

It serves primarily as a skin conditioning agent. It can be used in combination with Grapefruit Seed Extract and Potassium Sorbate or other preservatives to boost the anti-microbial properties. 

It can increase skin penetration of other ingredients so be sure all of the other ingredients in the product are safe and non-toxic.

Allowed in EcoCert products but not allowed in USDA certified products through the National Organic Program.
Caprylhydroxamic Acid (CHA)
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A fairly new preservative and broad spectrum anti-fungal agent with strong chelating properties shown to lower mold growth. 

A 2017 study showed a strong link between allergic contact dermatitis - red or itchy skin - and CHA. Critics of the study noted that participants with damaged skin likely resulted in increased penetration of the CHA on the skin. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review noted that caution should be taken with the use of CHA in a manner that would result in increased penetration, such as formulation with penetration enhancers.
Carbomer
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This ingredient is used to create a gel like consistency  - increase viscosity. Generally thought of as safe but may cause minor skin irritation.
Carrageenan
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Derived from Chondrus crispus, a species of red seaweed commonly called Irish moss. There is a lot of controversy about why this ingredient is bad mostly because it has shown to clog the skin pores (which is bad). It can help to retain moisture on the skin and is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Castor Oil
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Castor Oil is extracted from the seeds of Ricinus communis, the castor oil plant. While it is relatively safe, it can increase the penetration of other ingredients thorugh the skin barrier.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
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Cedarwood is a natural pest deterrent with natural properties to improve the appearance of your dog's skin.

As with all essential oils, using a high grade essential oil that has been naturally extracted is imperative for the health and safety of your pet! 
Cetearyl Isononanoate
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An ester of Cetearyl Alcohol and a branched chain nonanoicacid used as a skin and hair conditioner. Used at less than 12% in a formulation it is less likely to cause skin irritation. We gave it a neutral rating as we don't know the concentration and more research is needed on this ingredient for long term impacts.
Cetyl Alcohol
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May be used in a number of applications - from fragrance to boosting foam or a thickener. It has links to organ system toxicity and is not friendly to the environment (ecotoxicology). Can have a plant or animal origin.
Charcoal

(activated)
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Generally recognized as safe.

More research is needed on the environmental impact of using this ingredient and whether or not it is bioaccumulative.
Chlorhexidine gluconate
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A fast acting, broad spectrum antimicrobial agent, with a low potential for causing skin reactions  that can continue to kill bacteria on the skin up to 24 hours after use.

It has been shown to readily go through the skn barrier. Because of limited safety data, CHG is not recommended for use in children <2 months of age and for that reason we've thrown up the warning flag for using it on dogs. There are safer alternatives (like tea tree dog shampoo for dogs which should never be used on cats).
Chlorphenesin
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A preservative, it has links to organ system toxicity to the eye, liver, and kidney and evidence of links to allergies.
Citral
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A naturally occuring scent ingredient but is usually synthetically produced on a large scale. It has links to allergies and contact dermatitis. Classified as an irritant.
Citric acid
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Citric acid may be used to adjust the pH of a product to make it more neutral. The goal when doing this is to get the pH closer to 7 - that of your dog's eyes so the manufacturer can claim "tear free". Unfortunately, these same shampoos often use ingredients that you would not want on your dog's eyes. So, yes they may be tear free, but the product is not safe and non-toxic!

As a note, your dog's skin is better served by a more alkaline pH and being careful around their eyes. If you do get shampoo in your dog's eyes, rinse with water and prevent them from rubbing the affected eye. 

Some dogs may have skin sensitivity to citric acid although rare. 

Cocamide DEA
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A foaming agent that has links to organ system toxicity and contamination concerns. 

Cocamide MEA
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A foam producer that started as a coconut and has been chemically altered into a moderate cancer causer, hormone and thyroid disruptor and an organ toxin.

Cocamidopropyl betaine
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A synthetic surfactant associated with irritation & allergic contact dermatitis. Reactions could be due to the ingredient itself or impurities. Nitrosamines (a common contaminant) are known to cause cancer.

Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine
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A a plant derived synthetic hair conditioning agent and foam booster. It is a relatively new ingredient that may have links to skin allergies but appears with the limited data available to be relatively safe. 

Cocamidopropylamine Oxide
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A tricky ingredient to rate, it is an environmental toxin with known links to eye and skin irritation but it throught to be relatively safe. It got a not safe ranking based on being an  environmental toxin.

Coco-glucoside
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Is a synthetic used as a foaming, cleansing, conditioning, and thickening agent. It is made from reaction of coconut oil fatty alcohols and fruit sugar (glucose). While synthetic, it is considered safe with minimal links to allergies.

Coconut Glucose
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Another name for coco-glycoside. Is a synthetic used as a foaming, cleansing, conditioning, and thickening agent. It is made from reaction of coconut oil fatty alcohols and fruit sugar (glucose). While synthetic, it is considered safe with minimal links to allergies.

Coconut Oil
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Extremely hydrating, a great moisturizer that helps to provide a protective layer, retaining moisture in the skin while allowing the skin to breathe. As a mild oil, it is very good for inflamed or irritated skin, and on dogs with skin sensitivities.

There is of course organic and non-organic coconut oil. Prefer organic as it is non-GMO, no pesticides or herbicides used. 

Colloidal Oatmeal
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Oatmeal that has been ground into a fine powder and mixed with a liquid.

There are organic options for colloidal oatmeal but they are very rare and involve using a patent-pending extrusion process, which solubilizes the oat kernels to produce a natural or organic oatmeal without the need to process the oats extensively. Because this processing is more expensive, it is rarely used. We have it a "pretty safe" rating becuase of the differences in processing.