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Can I Use Human Shampoo On My Dog?

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

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 realize 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?

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. 

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