Can you use human shampoo on dogs?

Love Your Pets!

can you use human shampoo on dogs

Pets become part of the family. They are adorable members that cuddle up next to you when you feel lonely.  I love my cat and my dog when they wake me up in the morning by licking my face.

You give them your food, share your bed with them, and even use products you would use on your body and hair on them. You might even share your shampoo with them. But can you safely use human shampoo on dogs?

Can you use human shampoo on dogs?

One misconception that many pet owners have is that using human shampoo on pets is safe.  You must use the best dog shampoo for your dog.  Did you ever think that human and dogs have completely different skin and hair compositions?

Can you use regular shampoo on dogs? 

Human skin is three times thicker than a dog’s, which is why a dog’s skin is very sensitive. Both have an acid mantle that is found in the outermost layer of the skin, which is responsible for protecting the skin against bacteria, viruses, and other outside contaminants.

The answer to the important question, “Can you use human shampoo on dogs?” or “Is Human shampoo OK for dogs?” is no.  You should always use dog shampoo on your dog.

What Happens if You Use Human Shampoo on a Dog?

Using human shampoo on dogs removes the acid mantle on dog’s skin, stripping it of essential moisture and protection.  This can lead to skin irritation, dryness, and itchiness.  Using human shampoo on your dog could cause a bunch of problems that would require a trip to the vet.

What if I used human shampoo on my dog already?  If you used human shampoo, don’t freak out.  Your dog will most likely be fine.  Just keep an eye on them to see if they’re scratching more than usual and grab some dog shampoo.

can you use human shampoo on dogs

Can you Use Baby Shampoo on a Dog?

No.  Even though baby shampoo is more gentle than regular human shampoo it’s still not gentle enough for your dogs thinner skin.

can you use human shampoo on dogs

Can You Use Human Body Wash on Dogs?

Using human body wash to wash your dog is a no no.  Human body wash is formulated to be used on thick human skin, not on sensitive dog skin.  It would strip the good layer from your dogs skin and cause skin problems that might cost you a trip to the vet.  It just isn’t worth it.

I don’t Have Dog Shampoo: What can I Use?

If your dog really needs a bath and you have no dog shampoo, try brushing them out and then washing them down with warm water.  You can also brush them out and then use cornstarch as a dry dog shampoo to at least absorb the grease and oils that are on your dogs coat.  This should reduce dog smell until you can get a proper dog shampoo.

How are dog shampoos formulated?

A dog’s skin is very sensitive, which is why using shampoos specially formulated for dogs are necessary to keep them clean and moisturized. 

Dog shampoo ingredients

Dog shampoos have natural formulas to ensure gentleness on a dog’s skin and shiny hair. Examples of natural ingredients used in dog shampoo formulations include:

  • Glycerin, which is responsible for replenishing the moisture lost during the washing. It helps keep fur shiny and skin well-moisturized
  • Vinegar, which acts as a deodorizer. Despite its strong odor, vinegar is easily washed off leaving your dog’s hair smelling neutral. More importantly, it contains anti-bacterial properties. You can use either apple cider or white vinegar
  • Essential oils like chamomile, citrus, lavender, and other essential oils which provide a refreshing smell. Some essential oils help eliminate lice and fleas. For example, lavender helps eliminate fleas from dogs

Before you buy a dog shampoo, make sure to read the product labels. Other ingredients that you will find in dog shampoos are salicylic acid, colloidal oatmeal, hydrocortisone, menthol, and moisturizers such as aloe vera, vitamin E, tea tree oil, and honey.

For dog shampoos, the right level of pH is around 7. You can find pH levels on the labels, however some only indicate that the dog shampoo has a neutral pH level for dogs.

human shampoo on dogs

Eco Friendly Pet Shampoo

Picking an environmentally friendly pet shampoo can be difficult with all the differences in labeling and new age terms.  Researching the company that produces the product is key to determining if the product is really an eco friendly pet shampoo.  Check out my full post here for how to pick an environmentally friendly pet shampoo.  Some of the key things to look for are covered in the list below:

  1. Organic, certified organic is best (USDA for example)
  2. All Natural Ingredients
  3. pH balanced
  4. Simple to pronounce ingredients, remember less is more here
  5. Certified by a 3rd party to be Eco Friendly
  6. Biodegradable
  7. Bottle made with recyclable materials and is 100% recyclable or reusable

Can Humans Use Dog Shampoo?

Ummmm, not sure why you’d do this, maybe you’re desperate!  Since dog shampoo is much gentler than human shampoo and is usually made with organic and natural ingredients, you can use dog shampoo.  Since it’s formulated for dog fur, don’t expect to look great afterwards.

How to do I Choose Dog Shampoo?

So you may be wondering, how do I choose a dog shampoo?  Does your dog have any skin issues?  Do they need a hypoallergenic dog shampoo, a moisturizing shampoo, or a medicated shampoo for fleas and ticks?

Here are some of the top selling dog shampoo brands available. Remember frequent bathing can strip away the natural oils from your dog’s skin leading to dry and itchy skin.

The grooming products available on the market, no matter how mild they are, can disturb the pH balance of the skin of the dog.The brands are evaluated based on their compatibility with different skins and coats, pH balancing of the skin by preserving the natural oils, and anti-allergen properties.

Best Dog Shampoos for Odor

While dogs don’t need to take a bath as often as we do, giving your dog a bath periodically is important for their health and hygiene.    You want to ensure that you are using the best dog shampoo to remove odor from your dog.

We like to use and recommend natural products when possible and try to find products that contain oatmeal, natural extracts, and are vegan and/or organic.  Bonus: this doesn’t mean they are more expensive! 

Many of the shampoos made to combat odor consist of better ingredients that soothe your dogs skin and condition its coat.  You can even buy a dry dog shampoo that fights odor!  No more messy time consuming baths!

Paws & Pals Natural Oatmeal Dog-Shampoo And Conditioner - 20oz Medicated Clinical Vet Formula Wash For All Pets Puppy & Cats - Made with Aloe Vera for Relieving Dry Itchy SkinIf you are looking for an all-natural, paraben free and a product that does not cause irritation or inflammation to your canine buddy’s  eyes/nose, do opt for the OxGord Natural Oatmeal Dog-Shampoo  and Conditioner.

Dry Dog Shampoo, Waterless, No Rinse Foam Mousse - Best for Bathless Cleaning of Coat and Removing Pet Odor - Mango & Pomegranate Scent, Natural with No Harsh Detergents, Made in USA, 100% GuaranteedAnd if your choice is to removes odor and dirt off your dog’s coat without the messy activity of a bath then do opt for the Paw Choice Dry Dog Waterless No Rinse Foam Mousse shampoo.


Best Dog Shampoos for Fleas

Fleas feed off of your dogs blood and the bites leave them irritated, itchy and your dog may even be allergic to them.  It’s a great idea to research the best dog shampoos for fleas before deciding which one to use on your puppy or dog.  

Read the ingredients and reviews to learn if the product is gentle on your dog and any side effects it may have.

An effective anti-flea medicated product kills the adult fleas and hopefully their eggs as well, ending the flea’s life cycle, thereby alleviating your dog from discomfort.  Does dog shampoo expire? 

YES! Please be mindful when purchasing that you use all of the product before the expiry date for it to be most effective and not harmful to your pet.  When in doubt, throw it out!

Anti-flea shampoo can be used like a regular product and it doesn’t cause any harm to the dog’s coat and skin. The same can be used with a spot on treatment product or with a flea collar for more effective treatment.

Don’t forget a flea comb is part of your weapons against infestation: you can comb out the eggs, flea dirt, and adult fleas to provide immediate relief.

Best Medicated Dog Shampoo

Like humans, dogs need regular bathing and grooming because these are important parts of general pet care. Aside from giving them the right food, using the best dog shampoo that works for their skin is essential to keeping them healthy.

Is your dog always scratching? Do you find that there are some white patches and flakes that appear in your dogs coat when it scratches? If your pet is suffering from ringworm, pyoderma, fleas, allergies and other skin problems, your dog may require a medicated shampoo.

Your dog or cat will get quick and long lasting relief from skin issues from using a medicated shampoo.  Remember to follow the directions on the bottle for maximum results.  Please work with your vet if your pets skin problems do not go away after using a medicated shampoo.

Top 10 Dog Shampoo Brands

Sometimes the best way to pick a dog shampoo that is good for your dog is to read reviews and listen to other customers.  We posted a round up of the top 10 dog shampoo brands here.  This post covers everything from medicated dog shampoos, to dog shampoos for fleas, to natural and organic dog shampoos.

What can I Use as a Substitute for Dog Shampoo?

The only thing we recommend that you use instead of dog shampoo is warm water or a shampoo that you make at home from ingredients you can find in your kitchen.  Check out our homemade dog shampoo recipes.

Have you tried any of these shampoos?  Let us know in the comments below!