5 Things to Know About Reading Pet Care Ingredient Labels

You’ve fulfilled your duty as Responsible Pet Owner: you’ve checked the label before dropping that pet shampoo in your cart, virtual or not. But what do those things written on the label mean exactly

Before you head to the checkout counter (or page), it’s important that you understand what you are looking at. The ingredient list is where all the really important information is, but sometimes it can just seem a bit impossible to decipher, especially when it includes a lot of unpronounceable words. 

That being the case, we sat down with Founder George Carlos and Dr. Kitsie Torres of Island Vet to help you navigate the world of pet care. Ready to feel more confident when reading your ingredient labels? Read on below to achieve your pet’s fur goals fast.

No-nonscents formula

With new local pet brands popping up left and right, choosing the right shampoo for your furry companion can quickly become homework, and a hard one at that. Dr. Kitsie’s advice? Keep it simple. “One of the first things I check is the fragrance,” she says. She warns to steer clear of shampoos that are heavily scented because dogs and cats have much more sensitive noses than humans, with the canine snout 40 times stronger than the human equivalent and feline nostrils between nine and 16 times the olfactory power of humans. “If the scent feels strong for you, imagine how it would smell for your fur baby,” she adds. 

Have a smelly dog or cat in your hands? You might really like this cleansing bar from our Neem Pet Care Line. It has actual neem leaves to gently scrub dirt away, and honey to deeply cleanse and exfoliate. No fussy fragrances, just a formula that works!


Sniff through the brand’s website

Researching the brand is very important, too. “I go through the brand’s website and look at several reviews before purchasing a product,” Dr. Kitsie shares. One of the pet shampoos that won the vet’s approval is the Jicama Brightening Wash with Green Tea Seed Oil & Aloe Vera, which she uses on her 6-month-old Coton de Tulear x Bichon Frise puppy. It does not contain colorings or bleach in its formula, using only 100% Jicama extract to reduce stains caused by tears and saliva. 

Pet-owner-slash-founder George is also a proud mom to her bichon frise, Drogo. Before our founder launched Fetch! Naturals, her pup encountered skin irritation caused by chemical-laden products. What restored Drogo’s coat was a dog shampoo that used neem in its formula. Since then, George is a firm believer that the best pet shampoo is both natural and effective.

Natural doesn’t always mean safe

While it makes sense that more consumers and more brands are focusing on natural ingredients in products, it’s important to know that natural is not always an indicator that a product is safe. There are a handful of natural or organic ingredients that are toxic for pets. Think: poison ivy and arsenic. 

We handpick natural ingredients—ideally local ones like Neem and Jicama. Those that are backed up by scientific studies,” George reassures. “Aside from standard practices such as cruelty-free, non-toxic, and all natural labels, we make sure that our products go through proper quality checks to ensure that they are truly safe and effective.” 

For local products, Dr. Kitsie encourages checking if the products have been certified by the Bureau of Animal Industry, Food and Drug Administration, and other government institutions.

Make a no-no list 

It can be difficult to find products that deliver the healthy, shiny fur of your pet’s dreams while also skipping damaging ingredients. The key: make a no-no list. In general, here are a few ingredients to avoid when looking for a safe shampoo:

  1. Parabens. Used to preserve products and keep them bacteria-free. However, they have been linked to reproductive issues and skin irritation. Studies have shown that parabens are easily absorbed into the skin and have even been found in traces in bodily tissue. 
  2. Sulfates. A type of surfactant used to create a lather and hold on to dirt and oil and carry it away from fur. That said, they can strip fur of beneficial moisture and oils. These ingredients can also serve as a skin irritant, causing irritation, dryness, and inflammation in some pets with sensitive skin. 
  3. Fragrance. A misleading term that can be used to disguise harmful chemicals such as Phthalates, which are known for disrupting the hormonal balance in dogs. Shampoo labels that specify the scent source are safe to use. However, try to avoid shampoos with artificial scents. 

You can avoid common harmful ingredients by opting for natural products. They are free of synthetic chemicals, so you won’t even have to check the label (of course, the Responsible Pet Owner inside you thinks otherwise).

Bestsellers are your best friend

When asked what the most purchased product is, George says it’s “definitely the Neem Leave-On Rinse.” (Questions? Comments? Violent reactions? Or is this also your Fetch favorite?)

I think it sells well because it’s one of the more versatile products we have,” says George. “This one product is your antibacterial spray, tick and flea repellant, deodorizer, and hotspot soother all in one.

And guess what? This one is also our founder’s best friend during the rainy season when Drogo just refuses to take baths. Oh, Drogo!

Shopping for pet care essentials is no small feat, but we hope that with this guide, you can start adding to cart with confidence. Long story short: Your Fetch pack is always here to help. Come back to this blogpost anytime you need a quick refresher!




  • 7 Dog Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid 


  • Is Perfume Dangerous for Pets? 


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