Is It Safe To Use Human Shampoo On Dogs?

Many of us as pet owners know how troublesome it can be to keep your dog clean on a regular basis. Depending on the breed of dog and their own unique personality, they can put up quite a struggle when it comes to their regular bathing session. On top of that, finding the right cleaning products for the job can be a struggle in itself and many of us may be tempted to simply use our own, standard shampoos or conditioners on our pets as a quick fix solution.

While this may make sense to the unknowing pet owner, the reality of the matter is that a dog’s skin is very different from ours and human shampoos are obviously formulated to be suitable for our skin, not theirs. This is why such a large market has been established around catering for dog-based products, especially in the realm of shampoos and conditioners. I for one did not know this for a while and whenever I ran out of shampoo for my dog, I would substitute my shampoo for a few washes. While doing this once or twice may not cause your dog any immediate discomfort (although the results will vary from dog to dog), the reality is that this is simply not suitable for regular or continued use.

I think a lot of people tend to forget how much of an investment and a responsibility owning a dog is and many often fail to take into account how many variables there are to consider when owning a dog. So in reading this article, I hope that I can shed some light on the subject of keeping your dog clean and ultimately prevent your dog from shedding hair instead.

There is quite a lot of science involved with understanding why human shampoo is not suitable for dogs and I hope to boil this down for you to it’s simplest form so that it’s easy to understand. The more knowledge you have about how and why you should treat your dog a certain way, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right decisions in future.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dog’s?

Human skin requires shampoos that are designed to balance its acidic level

The short answer to this is no. However, like I mentioned earlier, one wash probably won’t harm your dog too much – but each dog is different and their reaction to the product might be more severe than one could expect. So it’s not really worth taking the risk, as it could cost you a lot more than simply buying the appropriate shampoo in the first place.

The reason for this is largely due to the difference in our skin types. One of the most important factors regarding our skin and keeping it in check is the acid mantle layer. This occurs on both human and canine skin and is essentially a lightly acidic barrier that covers the surface of the skin acting as a natural barrier against germs and bacteria. This layer is measured on the pH scale which ranges from 0 to 14 – less than 6 being highly acidic and above that, more mild and alkaline. The pH balance is the key difference between canine and human skin.

Human skin is generally a lot more acidic, ranging from around 5.2 to 6.2 and therefore requires shampoos and soaps that are designed to balance and maintain this acidic level. Dog’s on the other hand, have a  more alkaline or mild acid mantle or skin type, usually ranging from around 5.5 to 7.5. This means that in order to maintain their acid mantle and healthy, hydrated skin – their core defense against germs and bacteria – they have to be treated with a shampoo that helps them maintain and balance a more alkaline skin type.

When you wash your skin or hair with shampoo or soap, you effectively wash away the acid mantle on the surface of your skin, and this can take up to 12 hours to replenish itself naturally. Because of this, shampoos are generally formulated with moisturizer to help build up this layer in the interim – the same applies for dogs.

Which is why it’s important to use the correct shampoo, otherwise you are effectively stripping this protective layer away completely and leaving your dog vulnerable to a variety of germs and bacteria that can lead to infections in the long-term.

Once infected, the symptoms may include a rash, dry, itchy skin, peeling and sometimes even more serious bacterial infections (such as a streptococcal or streptococcus infection) that can even lead to more serious health complications such as flesh eating necrotizing fasciitis which can be horribly painful and a real challenge to treat. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry in my opinion – and choosing the right shampoo for your pet is the first step.

Why To Opt For A Natural Shampoo For Your Dog

I would recommend using a natural shampoo for your dog

Many of the reasons for why I would recommend using a natural shampoo for your dog are much the same as why I would recommend using one for yourself.

The issue with most of the conventional shampoos on the market these days is that they claim to be formulated to help treat specific skin-related issues. While this may be true to some degree, the truth is that they often contain a wide variety of chemical ingredients that can have negative effects on your skin and overall health.

Yet another of the key differences between our skin and a canine’s skin is the fact that a dog’s skin is a lot thinner than ours, which means that it is a lot easier for these chemicals to penetrate the surface of the skin and enter your dog’s system. So while the shampoo might be effective in say, relieving dry and itchy skin, using these products on a regular basis can damage your dog’s skin and health.

Yet another reason for switching to natural products is that for every chemical-based treatment available on the market, there is a natural alternative that is just as effective and a lot healthier too. Natural shampoos give you the benefit of healthy and holistic ingredients, while still being as easy to use as a normal shampoo. So you get the best of both worlds for roughly the same cost – if not cheaper.

Top 3 Natural Ingredients for Dogs

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is highly effective in preventing the buildup of free radicals

Vitamin E is an incredibly potent natural moisturizer that can help to strengthen your dog’s overall  health and immune system as well as encourage a healthy coat. Vitamin E is also highly effective in preventing the formation and buildup of free radicals on the surface of your dog’s skin.

Free radicals – These oxygenated molecules can enter your dog’s system and cause cell damage and overall cell degeneration. So preventing them is key to a healthier, happier dog. Vitamin E can applied topically in liquid form, or included in your dog’s diet to help from within.

Tea Tree Oil

This is one of my personal favorites as it’s very potent, highly effective and can help to treat a wide variety of skin related issues that commonly affect dog’s. However, it is important for me to stress that tea tree oil should always be properly diluted (2 drops to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil) before applying it to your dog, or it could have a effect on your dog’s skin.

That being said, tea tree oil can be used to help treat skin irritations such as rashes and dry, flaky skin as well as keeping wounds and sores free of bacteria and infection. This is very important for maintaining your dog’s health and can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

Tea tree oil can also be mixed with a variety of other natural ingredients to form a powerful anti-flea and tick treatment. This can help to get rid of the parasites as well as allow any existing wounds or sores to heal. A definite must-have for any pet owner.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil goes a lot further than most in terms of treating and maintaining your dog’s health

I love using lavender oil on myself and around my home, so I always have a vial of stuff in my kitchen cabinet. Besides having a heavenly scent, this oil goes a lot further than most in terms of treating and maintaining your dog’s health. It can be used to help treat skin issues that may be the result of allergies as well as keeping sores and wounds free of germs and bacteria and ultimately infections.

But besides the topical applications of this incredible essential oil, it can even be used to help reduce stress and induce drowsiness in your pet – making it a perfect addition for those long car rides with a stressed out pooch, or for a dog that is suffering from anxiety.

By being purely natural, you can also use it freely without having to worry about any serious adverse effects, although I’d advise monitoring your dog’s health carefully to ensure that it isn’t suffering from any allergic reactions etc.

DIY Dog Shampoo Recipe and Guide

There are a wide variety of different recipes available online

It’s important to note that there are a wide variety of different recipes available online to help treat different ailments that may be commonly related to your dog’s health, and I’d recommend looking into these if you need a more specific formula.

However, for the sake of this article, I’m going to include a rather simple and straightforward standard natural shampoo for dogs that can help you save money over time, or provide a suitable option for if you happen to run out of shampoo in an emergency situation. This is also a dry shampoo, so it’s easy to apply and won’t irritate your dog’s skin – plus no wet dog smell! What you need:

  • 1 cup of Baking soda.
  • 1 cup of Cornstarch.
  • 7-8 drops of Lavender oil.

Simply add the baking soda to the cornstarch and mix well. Then while stirring the mixture, slowly add the essential oil to the mixture. If you feel it needs a few more drops of essential oil, feel free to add. Also note that you’re not limited to only one essential oil – you can mix and blend as you’d like. The only limitation is your imagination.


Using natural products on you and your dog is something I would highly recommend to anyone. They’re generally cheaper, safer and more cost effective than the conventional chemical treatments we’re used to using.

If your dog’s health really matters to you, please avoid using any conventional ‘human’ shampoos as they’re not formulated for a dog’s skin – I hope the differences are understood by now. Taking the right steps in treating your dog’s skin and health is the best way to avoid any costly visits to the vet and to ensure that your dog is healthy and happy. Prevention is always better than the cure!

For more articles by Edumuch on dogs, see Titer Test for DogsDiatomaceous Earth For Dogs and Fish Oil for Dogs

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply