Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs? Let's Rinse Out This Myth
Health and Wellness for Your Four-Legged Friend

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs? Let's Rinse Out This Myth

Dec 06, 2023

"Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?" is a question that often puzzles pet owners. But the answer might be a NO. And in this blog post, we'll explore why your favorite hair products may not be suitable for your pup while suggesting safe alternatives for keeping them clean.

Human Shampoo vs. Dog Shampoo: Understanding the Difference

Human shampoo and dog shampoo differ in several key ways, primarily due to the differences in human and canine skin.


  1. pH Balance: Human skin has a normal pH balance of 5.5-5.6, which is on the acidic side. Dogs, on the other hand, have a normal pH balance of 6.2-7.4, which is more neutral. Human shampoo is designed to keep the skin acidic, while dog shampoo is engineered to keep skin neutral. Using a human shampoo on dogs disrupts the acid mantle, leaving your dog vulnerable to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. It also makes their skin feel dry and flaky, which can lead to repeated scratching and abrasions.


  1. Skin Sensitivity: Dogs' skin is more sensitive than human skin. Humans have 10-15 layers of skin cells, while canines have only 3-5. Shampoo with the wrong pH balance and/or harsh chemicals can irritate a dog’s skin and strip away the protective oils from their coat and skin.


  1. Cleaning Effectiveness: Human shampoo is not as effective at cleaning dogs as dog shampoo. Dog shampoo is specifically formulated to clean a dog's coat and skin. It is also designed to be gentle on a dog's skin. Human shampoo can be harsh on a dog's skin and may not clean the coat as well as dog shampoo.


  1. Medicated Ingredients and Insect Control: Dog shampoos often contain medicated ingredients for specific skin conditions and ingredients for insect control, which are not typically found in human shampoos.


  1. Dandruff Shampoos: Human dandruff shampoos should not be used on dogs as they contain zinc pyrithione, which is not commonly used in dog shampoo. They also may contain coal tar, which may irritate your dog’s skin.


Can You Use Baby Shampoo on Dogs?

Baby shampoos are specially formulated to be gentle on a baby's delicate skin and eyes, with a pH level that's typically neutral or slightly acidic, around 7. This is closer to the pH level of a dog's skin, which is also around 7, as we mentioned above, compared to regular human shampoos that tend to be more acidic.


However, while the pH level of baby shampoo might be closer to what's ideal for dogs, it's still not always a perfect match. Dogs have their own unique needs when it comes to skincare, and dog-specific shampoos are designed with these needs in mind.


No Dog Shampoo, What Can I Use?

So, what can you use if baby shampoo isn't the ideal solution for washing your dog? Worry not; there are other safe and effective solutions you can resort to. Let's explore them.

Suggestions on What to Use When You Run Out of Dog Shampoo

If you're in a pinch and out of dog shampoo, there are a few options that can tide you over:


  1. Castile Soap: This is a natural, vegetable-based soap free from artificial ingredients and animal fats, gentle and non-toxic making it a safe option for your pup.
  1. Homemade Shampoo: You can whip up a simple homemade shampoo using ingredients like oatmeal, baking soda, and warm water. Oatmeal is known for its soothing properties, especially for dry and itchy skin. Baking soda helps with deodorizing, and warm water brings it all together.


Exploration of Substitutes for Dog Shampoo

While the above alternatives can help in a bind, they are not long-term substitutes for dog shampoos. The reason? Dog shampoos are specifically formulated considering a dog's skin pH level, hydration needs, and common canine skin issues such as fleas and ticks.


These improvised solutions may not maintain the right pH balance or provide the essential hydration that your dog's skin requires. Also, they might not be effective against specific dog-related problems like parasites.


How to Bathe Your Dog

With the proper shampoo in hand, you're ready to bath your dog. Here are the steps to follow:


  1. Prepare the Bath: Fill the tub with lukewarm water. It should be deep enough to reach your dog's knees. Keep the shampoo, towels, and any other necessities nearby.
  1. Get Your Dog Ready: Brush your dog before the bath to remove loose hair and tangles. This makes the bathing process easier and more efficient.
  1. Wet Your Dog: Slowly wet your dog from the neck down. Avoid getting water in their ears, eyes, or nose.
  1. Apply Shampoo: Use a dog-specific shampoo and gently massage it into your dog's coat. Start from the neck and work your way down to the tail. Don't forget the belly and legs!
  1. Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse until the water runs clear. Any leftover shampoo can cause irritation, so make sure to rinse thoroughly.
  1. Dry Your Dog: Towel dry your dog immediately after rinsing. For long-haired breeds, consider using a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting.


Using human shampoo or alternatives in a pinch is possible, but they should not replace dog-specific shampoos for regular use. Dogs have unique skin needs, and only shampoos formulated for dogs can meet those requirements, promoting optimal skin health and protection against common issues like pests. Remember, your pet's health and comfort should always be a priority.