Dog Shampoo vs Human Shampoo

Love Your Pets!

dog shampoo vs human shampoo which is better

Is there a reason why pet owners should use dog shampoo vs human shampoo?

Dog skin and human skin are totally different. Even the hair and fur isn’t the same. This is the most important thing that pet owners should know because sometimes, pet owners use human products on their dogs.

Let’s compare dog shampoo vs. human shampoo, and the effects of using human shampoo on dogs.  

Which is better—dog shampoo vs human shampoo?

The answer is obvious: A dog shampoo is best for dogs, and a human shampoo is best for humans. It is as simple as that. However, pet owners use human shampoo for their dogs to save money. It actually costs them more because human shampoos do more harm which could cost them later.

Here are some reasons why dog shampoo is better than human shampoo for dogs.

Skin types

dog shampoo vs human shampoo

Human skin is three times thicker than dog skin making dog skin very sensitive to the point that even shampoos for babies or human shampoos for sensitive skin are not recommended for dogs. Let’s take a look at both the human skin and the dog skin.

Both dogs and humans have a vital part of the skin—the acid mantle, which is the thin outermost acidic layer that guards the skin against bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants. Bath soaps and water wash away this layer.

This is why many health and beauty companies formulate soaps with moisturizers to replenish this acid mantle. If this layer is not present, the skin is prone to bacteria which can lead to flaky and dry skin or irritations.

human shampoo vs dog shampoo

Dog Shampoo vs Human Shampoo and pH Balance

pH ranges between 0 to 14. A pH of 6.4 and above means a high alkalinity, and 6.4 and below means a high acidity. The acceptable pH level in a human shampoo is between 5.2 to 6.2. Human shampoos are formulated with this pH level.

However, a dog’s skin has an average pH of 5.5 to 7.5, nearing an alkaline concentration. Dog skin is much thinner, compared to human skin, which makes it very sensitive. Human shampoos can cause the acid mantle in the dog’s skin to be seriously disrupted.

If a dog skin’s acid mantle is absent or diminished, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants will cause dryness, flakiness, and even serious diseases.

What Can I use as a Substitute for Dog Shampoo?

If you don’t have any dog shampoo, we recommend just rinsing off your dog with warm water and a mit to scrub off any dirt.  This way you are as gentle as possible to your dogs skin and fur. 

If you have some castile soap around the house, that would be a gentle choice for your dog.  Check out our homemade dog shampoo recipe if you want to try making your own shampoo.

dog shampoo vs human shampoo

Can I Use Baby Shampoo on my Dog? What about using Dove Soap?

If you don’t have dog shampoo around the house, there are a million things you can come up with to use instead.  All of those soaps etc are great for washing your baby or yourself, but they aren’t good for dogs pH skin balance or their fur.

dog shampoo vs human shampoo

Can I Use Dawn Soap to Wash my Dog or Human Body Wash on my Dog?

If you’re in a pinch to remove fleas, blue dawn is known for being gentle and helping with flea infestations.  This is a once and awhile substitute for flea shampoo and a long term flea prevention plan with topicals/flea collars etc. 

You can’t use dawn soap every time you wash your dog, it will dry out their skin and fur, resulting in costly skin problems.

Human body wash is exactly that: it’s formulated to be used on human skin and could contain ingredients like essentials oils that are toxic to dogs.

Only use dog shampoo on dogs to avoid issues with your dogs health.

Awesome Ingredients to Look for in Dog Shampoo

The ingredients for dog shampoos include colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, menthol, and salicylic acid which relieve itching and indications of allergy. 

Natural base oils such as Argon oil and coconut oil keeps your dog’s hair moisturized and glossy.

  • 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 and repel fleas from dogs

Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Shampoo

You have to ensure that you read the labels before purchasing dog shampoos and try to avoid the following ingredients:

  1. Artificial Colors
  2. Cocomide DEA of MEA
  3. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  4. Formaldehyde
  5. Fragrances
  6. Isopropyl Alcohol
  7. Isopropyl (SD-40)
  8. Methylchoroisothiazolinone
  9. Methylparaben and Parabens
  10. Mineral Oil
  11. Phthalates
  12. Polythylene Glycol
  13. Polysorbates
  14. Propylene Glycol
  15. Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

dog shampoo vs human shampoo

How to choose shampoo for dogs

Dog shampoos should maintain the normal pH level of the dog’s skin. Some dog shampoos indicate the pH level on the labels. Look for dog shampoos with apH level of around seven.

Aside from the pH level, the product labels also list the ingredients. Do not choose a dog shampoo that contains artificial scents or colors.

You should buy a dog shampoo with natural moisturizers such as aloe, vitamin E, and honey, and natural scents such as eucalyptus, chamomile, citrus, and lavender.

These natural fragrances not only make dogs smell pleasant, but also keep mosquitoes and other insects away. Organic dog shampoos may cost more, but they are the best dog shampoos on the market today.

Buying a separate shampoo for your dogs may feel a bit expensive, but when you see the results, you will be satisfied. Your dog will feel great too and you will be keeping him healthy. 

Depending on the condition of your dogs skin and coat, you may have to choose a special shampoo such as a medicated or a flea killing shampoo.  These are all formulated with your dogs pH balance and skin types in mind.  We’ve written a round up post on how to choose a dog shampoo to make choosing easier for you.  

Otherwise, using human shampoo may cause dryness and flakiness. It will surely remove the acid mantle of the dog’s skin and might allow the bacteria, virus, and other contaminants to permeate the skin. These contaminants could make your dog sick.

How Often should I bathe my Dog?

Your beloved pooch does not need a daily wash but rather you only need to shampoo them a few times a month. Dog skin is too sensitive to endure a daily shampoo routine, and your dog won’t mind if they are not washed every day.

If you prevent them from getting dirty, they will stay clean and fresh, even on days of no wash. With this routine, a typical bottle of dog shampoo should last for one whole year.


Dog shampoo vs human shampoo are formulated with totally different ingredients.  Your dog deserves the best products so don’t use human shampoo on them. Your shampoo might make your hair healthy and well moisturized, but it won’t do any good for your dog. Dog shampoos contain ingredients and are specially formulated for the dog’s very sensitive skin.

Treat your pet right. Use the right kind of shampoo and other pet products with the right ingredients.