Can I Use Human Shampoo On My Dog?

It’s doggy bath time, which we all know isn’t the easiest of feats. And, just to make matters worse, you’re faced with a mucky pup and realise you’re all out of pet shampoo. The stress is real! 

Your regular shampoo is just sitting there on the shelf – how much difference could it really make? Join us here at Groomers as we discuss just that…

What shampoo can I use on my dog? Can I use human shampoo on my dogs?

There is much debate within the pet community on whether regular ‘human shampoo’ can be used to clean dogs. After all, shampoo is shampoo – right? Well, kind of. And yes, human shampoo will clean your dog. The actual question is whether human shampoo is a good, safe alternative to dog shampoo. This is where things get a little more complicated. 

Without this becoming too much of a science lesson, we need to quickly discuss the human acid mantle. This is a thin layer of acidity that covers the skin and offers protection to the top layer. Often better understood as a pH balance, humans tend towards a more acidic range which is reflected in the acidity of our personal cleaning products, such as shampoo. 

Dogs, on the other hand, have an acid mantle and pH balance that tends towards alkaline. This means human shampoo is too acidic to maintain your dog’s skin pH balance if used regularly in place of dog shampoo. The issue is, human shampoo may work on dogs coats on a superficial level. Human shampoo will often leave a dogs coat smooth and soft, meaning owners mistakenly feel they are getting good results and continue using the product. 

However, it’s the skin of your dog which takes the brunt of the damage. Dog skin is very different from human skin, and your shampoo can dry out dogs’ skin and cause major problems over time, making them more susceptible to parasites and stripping away the natural protective oils. If you use a scented or specialist human shampoo option on your pooch, the problem could be even worse. Human shampoos, therefore, are definitely not recommended as a suitable and safe alternative for your dog. 

So, what is the best shampoo for dogs? 

It should go without saying, but dog shampoo is always the number one option. You want what’s best for your dog, so treat them to a shampoo specific to them. Dog shampoos are specially designed for both the coat and skin of your furry friend, with a vast array of options to suit your breed and coat type, whether they need detangling shampoo or medicated dog shampoo. Plus, dog shampoos are designed for a better lather to help make doggy bath time just that little bit easier. Human shampoo won’t lather as effectively, meaning you’ll need to use much more product for a similar wash – not the most cost-effective option long term! 

I have no dog shampoo, so what can I use? 

It happens all too often; you’ve been out on your evening walk and your pooch has managed to find (and thoroughly enjoy!) that one muddy puddle. They’re in desperate need of a bath but, when you get home, you realise you’re all out of their favourite dog shampoo. The shampoo sitting on your shelf starts to look tempting and you’re left wondering “what exactly can I use to wash my dog if I don’t have dog shampoo?”. 

If you’re all out with no other option and clean warm water just isn’t doing the trick, you can use regular human shampoo as a very last resort. Where possible, look out for pH levels and aim for a shampoo with a neutral pH range – as close to 7 as possible is best for dogs. Human shampoo won’t harm your dog as a one-off but if definitely not recommended as a long term bathing solution. Think of it in reverse – you could probably use a dog shampoo as a one-off if you were totally caught short and, while not amazing for you, it would probably get the job done. That doesn’t mean you’ll be binning your trusted favourite shampoo options to share beauty products with your pooch, so don’t expect the same from them! 

If you are in this last resort situation with no dog shampoo handy, keep away from human shampoos with added fragrance or colour as these will be particularly harsh on your pet’s skin. Baby shampoo is generally a better option than regular shampoo as it is clear, odourless and gentle so, in an emergency, this is your best option. However,  to keep your furry friend happy and healthy long term, it’s best to make a conscious effort to have their favourite dog shampoo stocked up at all times.

Conclusion time! Is regular shampoo safe to use on dogs? Yes, as a one-off human shampoo is technically ‘safe’ in that it won’t cause instant harm. Is regular shampoo good for dogs? No! Your shampoo will upset the pH balance of your dog’s coat, drying them out and leading to skin problems. So why would you risk your beloved dog’s long term health by using anything other than a specialist dog shampoo? 

To find the perfect option for you and your pooch, be sure to explore the full range of dog shampoo and dog conditioner at Groomers. With options to suit oily coats, knotty coats and even specialised shampoos for anxious dogs, you’re sure to discover your new bath-time go-to. 

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