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Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Author WDF Staff

03.06.2021.


There are so many dog products on the market that some owners get confused and wonder which products they can do without. That is completely natural, and one of the most common questions we get is, “Can you use human shampoo on dogs?” If you are wondering the same thing, here is what you should know.

Should you use human shampoo on your dog?

This is the main question, and the answer is - not really. Your skin and your dog’s skin are completely different, and something safe for you doesn’t mean it’s safe for your dog. Dogs and humans have different pH levels and the total number of skin layers. Here is what you should know about these two basic differences.

Different pH levels

Humans and dogs have a thin layer called the acid mantle. Its main job is to protect the top layer of the skin from different types of contaminations. You can think of it as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. When we bathe our dogs, this layer gets removed. The good news is - many types of dog shampoo have ingredients that will help your dog’s skin get moist and hydrated while the layer renews itself. Dogs have an average pH level of 6.2-7.4 (7 is neutral), while humans have 5.5-5.6, which is more towards the acidic side.

Skin layers

The second biggest difference between our skin and our dog’s skin is the total number of skin layers. The smaller the number of layers, the more sensitive the skin is. Humans have between 10 and 15 layers, and dogs only have 3 to 5. If you use human shampoo on your dog, there is a chance you will strip protective layers and harm your dog’s sensitive skin.

dog in shower

What if you use human shampoo on your dog?

If you already used human shampoo on your dog, there are some things you should look out for. There were cases when dog owners used the wrong shampoo or used human shampoo because they were uninformed, so don’t beat yourself up too much. Just make sure you are more careful next time.

The first thing you should know is - if that is not something that commonly occurs, and you don’t always use human shampoo on your dog, chances are your dog will be perfectly fine. They might have skin that is slightly more acidic, so human shampoo shouldn’t harm them. However, if you continuously use human shampoo on your dog, there is a good chance you can damage their acid mantle and strip away the protection.

If you constantly use human shampoo on your dog, the acid mantle will be stripped away, and you are risking your dog’s health. The dog’s skin is sensitive, and some of these issues can arise;

  • Dry skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Rashes
  • Skin infections

When the acid mantle disappears, you effectively remove the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. They only need a tiny opening and can cause all sorts of issues for your dog.

What products should you use?

The answer to that should be pretty straightforward - dog shampoo. Dog shampoo is specially formulated for your dog, and it will take care of the pH balance. It will remain unchanged, and your dog’s skin health will stay in great shape. Even if your dog doesn’t require baths that often, having a dog shampoo at home will make it less likely you might use human shampoo on your dog.

What about baby shampoo?

Suppose there is a bathing emergency and your dog rolled into something that smells terrible. In that case, you can use baby shampoo as an emergency shampoo. Baby shampoo is a lot milder and, therefore, safer to use on your dog. However, make sure there aren’t any chemicals in it and look for things like aloe vera, oatmeal, tea tree oil, and other natural ingredients that are extremely mild and gentle to your dog’s skin.

In conclusion

There is a good reason why there are products specifically developed for dogs. As a general rule, you should never use human products on your dog. If you have the option of taking your dog to a professional groomer, you can ask for advice about dog shampoo, and you can be sure the groomer is using products that are safe for dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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