Do You Have To Dilute Dog Shampoo? How to Tips and Chart!

Has it ever been bath time for your dog, and it just takes forever to spread the shampoo through all of their fur? I know I had such trouble when we got our first dog many years ago before you could look up these questions on the internet! If you’re having trouble, you probably need to dilute your shampoo with some water.

Dog Shampoo should be diluted according to the instructions on the packaging. Diluting dog shampoo helps the shampoo to spread out over the dog and penetrate through the fur. It also prevents skin irritation which can occur with full-strength shampoo. However, full strength may be needed for paws.

Keep reading to go over why you should dilute your dog’s shampoo and how that helps both you and your dog. We’ll also go over how to dilute shampoo with an included chart for understanding dilution ratios (don’t worry, it’s easy).

Finally, we’ll also tell you when you shouldn’t dilute your dog’s shampoo, as there are some circumstances where it is not warranted.

Why Should Dog Shampoo Be Diluted? 4 reasons

Many dog shampoos are very concentrated when they are packaged and can sometimes not be clear that you must dilute them. However, if your dog’s shampoo is a concentrate and requires dilution, diluting your dog’s shampoo has several benefits.

1. Dog shampoo can be thick.

Thick and viscous dog shampoo makes it especially difficult to spread around and cover all of your dog’s fur, undercoat and skin with the shampoo.

Spreading thick dog shampoo is especially difficult for dogs with long or curly hair.

You'll find yourself using more shampoo than is necessary and taking longer to rinse away the shampoo, which can begin to cause unrest with your dog if the bath is taking too long. And also costing you a lot more money in the long run.

You want the bath to be as short and effective as possible.

If you dilute the shampoo with water before putting it on your dog, it will make it more liquid/serous and easier to cover the dog. You’ll be able to get a better lather and get through all of that fur and rinse it out more easily!

2. Concentrated dog shampoo can irritate the skin.

Dog skin is sensitiveOpens in a new tab. to chemicals. Dog skin is primarily neutral in pH, and they only have 3 to 5 layers of skin cells, unlike humans, who have 10-12.

Because a dog’s skin is much thinner, it is much more prone to irritation that causes discomfort to the dog.

Diluting your dog’s shampoo will make it, so one area of the skin doesn’t get too much soap, which can dry out the skin and cause the dog to scratch itself.

3. Diluting dog shampoo is more efficient.

Diluting your dog’s shampoo helps you to use the right amount of shampoo and prevents you from wasting it. Again, this is not just better for the dog but also for your bank account.

If you follow the instructions on the bottle and don’t overly dilute the shampoo, you will use less shampoo to the same effect as applying it directly to the dog’s fur, making it more of a positive and safe experience.

Improper and less thorough baths can lead to wet dog smell! I wrote an article all about How to Get Rid of Wet Dog Smell After Bath with Causes Included here, if you want to know more!

4. Diluting dog shampoo makes baths faster.

While this may seem counterintuitive as you don’t want to speed through a bath and you want it to be as effective as possible.

But, taking a little bit of time before the bath to dilute the shampoo will make shampooing and rinsing your dog go faster. It won’t be as hard to spread or rinse out, making your overall time in the bath shorter.

It will also loosen up the dog hair that is being shredded and help improve your dog’s coat of fur and keep the skin healthier.

I wrote a post on Why Dogs Shed So Much After Bath; Causes, When to Furminate, which is linked for you here!

How Much Should I Dilute Dog Shampoo?

How much you dilute your dog’s shampoo depends on what kind of shampoo you purchase. Shampoo made for professional groomers is often more concentrated and requires greater dilution than consumer shampoo.

Some of the shampoos that are marketed as more natural options for consumers are lower concentrations, and you won’t want to dilute those as much.

My favourite pet shampoo is one by Burts Bees.

In order to know how much water to use to dilute your shampoo, I created and included a chart to show different dilution ratios, including the most common dilution ratios. The exact amounts have been rounded for ease of measuring.

Water amount to make
one litre of solution per ratio
Shampoo amount to make
one litre of solution per ratio
500 mL Water500 mL Shampoo
10:1910 mL Water90 mL Shampoo
16:1940 mL Water60 mL Shampoo
25:1960 mL Water40 mL Shampoo
50:1980 mL Water20 mL Shampoo

You should always check what the manufacturer calls for before diluting dog shampoo. If you dilute the shampoo too much, it won’t be effective.

Some shampoos sold are meant to be used as is and are already formulated at a lower concentration. Make sure to follow those instructions.

Because a lot of dog shampoos already come diluted, the instructions will just say to add the shampoo on wet fur, but if you notice that the shampoo is not spreading easily, you can add a little bit of water to another container with the shampoo to allow it spread more.

Use your judgment because the dog breed/type of hair and shampoo product can differ, making the shampoo act and spread differently.

How to Dilute Dog Shampoo

Once you know how much to dilute your dog’s shampoo, you can go ahead and get started.

You’ll want to have an old bottle or a large cup to mix your shampoo in. Or you can purchase a measured dilution container just for pet shampoo needs.

First, you’ll measure out the shampoo and add that to the container. Next, you’ll measure out the water and add it.

Next, you’ll either need to shake or stir the shampoo and water to get them to mix together. This is where an old bottle (instead of a cup) may be the better choice since you can simply close it and shake it up.

You’ll need to dilute the shampoo each time you wash your dog.

Storing diluted shampoo can make the shampoo less effective later, and it allows more bacteria to grow in the shampoo.

You can save time by writing down how much shampoo you need and the measurements the first time.

How to Use Diluted Dog Shampoo

The easiest way to wash a dog for most people is getting the dog in the tub and using a handheld shower head. After you’ve diluted your shampoo, you’ll get the dog wet. You want to get all of their fur wet before adding the shampoo.

After the dog is wet, you’ll take your diluted shampoo and pore it over all of the dog’s fur avoiding their eyes. Then you’ll start to rub the shampoo into the dog’s fur. If you’ve tried to wash your dog by spreading undiluted shampoo over them previously, you’ll be amazed at how much faster the process is now!

With the diluted shampoo, you don’t need to be too vigorous. Just make sure to get the soap everywhere. If your dog is especially muddy or dirty on their face or paws, you may need to apply some extra shampoo to your hands and then rub those areas.

Now you can rinse your dog off, towel dry, add in a gentle blow dry, and you’re done!

When Not to Dilute Dog Shampoo

Some shampoo is not intended to be diluted. If this is the case, it will usually say on the bottle not to dilute it.

Diluting dog shampoo that isn’t meant to be diluted could result in weakening the shampoo to where it won’t effectively clean your pup. You’ll find that some of the dog shampoos that boast all-natural ingredients or essential oils are a lower concentration and may not need to be diluted.

Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer for the best results, but most of the time diluting your dog’s shampoo even a little bit is really going to help at bath time.

I hope you have found this information helpful!

Have a great day,

Holly 🙂


Hi! My name is Holly. I am currently the fur mom to my beautiful three ragdoll cats, and I have owned multiple dogs over the years, including Siberian Huskies! To say the least I am experienced with all aspects of pet hair!

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