Can I Use Human Shampoo On My Dog?

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Every dog must be bathed regularly to prevent dirt and bacteria from building up on the skin. However, reaching for just any shampoo to clean your dog simply won't do. Using human shampoo on dogs can negatively affect their skin and coat health because it doesn't contain the ingredients they need; it can damage skin and coat health because it contains the wrong ingredients, leading to dry, itchy skin. Human shampoo is not designed for your dog's skin pH levels and can leave them vulnerable to skin infections, viruses, and parasites.1

Any human shampoo can harm your dog's health, so it's important to find a safe dog shampoo that can help treat or manage certain skin conditions based on your dog's needs. Can you use regular shampoo on dogs? Unfortunately, the answer is no, but in this article, we'll teach you why you need safe dog shampoo, the ingredients to avoid, and the products our vets recommend for healthy skin and coats. 

Why You Shouldn't Use Human Shampoo On Dogs

Can you use human shampoo on dogs? You shouldn't. Dogs should have their own shampoo for several reasons. The first is that their skin has a different pH balance than human skin. Therefore, human shampoo is designed for your skin's particular pH balance, not your dog's. All skin has an acid mantle that protects the top layer from viruses and bacteria while reducing evaporation to keep the skin hydrated.1 Bathing effectively removes the acid mantle, so most soaps, shampoos, and personal hygiene products contain ingredients to help it renew itself. However, the acid mantle requires the proper pH balance to protect the skin.1 

Your dog's skin is less acidic than yours, so using a human shampoo designed for a more acidic pH balance can affect the acid mantle's ability to protect their skin from viruses, bacteria, and even dangerous parasites.1 It also significantly dries the skin, leading to itching and flakiness. 

Ultimately, dogs have more sensitive skin, so using the wrong shampoo or shampoos with harsh chemicals can leave them dry and itchy by stripping the skin of the protective oils it needs to stay hydrated and keep the skin and coat healthy. Dogs whose acid mantles cannot repair themselves because of the wrong shampoo ingredients are more likely to experience dry skin, itchiness, rashes, and infections.1 

List of ingredients not safe for dog shampoo

What Ingredients Are Not Safe For Dog Shampoo?

When learning how to bathe a dog, you must consider the type of shampoo and its ingredients. While many gentle dog shampoos are available, you should always read the ingredients label to avoid any harsh chemicals that can strip your dog's skin of its natural oils. Ingredients to avoid include: 

  • Artificial colors and fragrances
  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde and Isothiazolinone preservatives
  • Paraben
  • Mineral Oil
  • Polyethylene and Propylene glycol

6 Dutch Vet-Approved Dog Shampoos

Finding the right shampoo is crucial to their health and wellness. You never want your dog to have irritated, itchy skin that leaves them open to the possibility of infection. Unfortunately, with so many options available on the market, choosing the right one for your dog can be difficult. We've taken the guesswork out of finding the right dog shampoo. Here are the top Dutch-approved dog shampoos chosen by our very own vets.  

https://www.dutch.com/products/ketohex-shampoo

1. KetoHex Shampoo

KetoHex Shampoo is a veterinary formula dog shampoo designed to remove bacterial and fungal conditions in dogs and cats, helping manage skin conditions and infections. This antiseptic shampoo is designed for pets with dermatological conditions ranging from itchiness and dry skin to yeast infections. 

2. MiconaHex+Triz Shampoo for Dogs & Cats

MiconaHex+Triz Shampoo is designed to treat moderate to severe fungal and bacterial infections while hydrating skin and repairing the skin barrier. This veterinary formula dog and cat shampoo can help fight dry skin, dandruff, and skin issues due to allergies, ringworm, yeast, fungus, and bacterial infections of the skin. 

3. DermaBenSs Shampoo for Dogs & Cats

DermaBenSs Shampoo helps treat pets with seborrhea, a skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and irritating skin. This soap-free shampoo contains ingredients that moisturize, repair, and restore damaged skin. The formula is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal to simultaneously hydrate and de-grease the skin. It works by increasing the amount of water the outer layer of skin can absorb to promote healthier skin and faster regrowth. 

4. Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo

Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo is a medicated dog and cat shampoo that soothes irritated skin from allergies and many other skin conditions to restore the pH balance. It contains skin-soothing natural ingredients like ophytrium to strengthen and protect the skin barrier to prevent itchy, irritated skin. It's made with gentle ingredients and without soap, sulfates, and parabens to moisturize skin and detangle fur. 

5. Douxo S3 Care Shampoo

Douxo S3 Care Shampoo is formulated with the gentlest ingredients to soothe itchy, irritated skin. It removes excess sebum, oils, and flakes and contains the same effective natural ingredient as Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo: ophytrium to repair and strengthen the skin barrier. In addition, it's made without harsh ingredients like soaps, sulfates, dyes, and parabens. This shampoo can help dogs suffering from allergies, seborrhea, and a range of skin conditions that may affect their quality of life. 

6. Douxo S3 Pyo Shampoo

Douxo S3 Pyo Shampoo is an antiseptic and antifungal dog and cat shampoo designed to soothe, cleanse, and strengthen irritated skin caused by allergies, parasites, and infections like pyoderma. It contains natural ingredients and helps strengthen and restore the skin barrier balance of protective microbes. Like other Douxo S3 products, it's made without harmful chemicals, soaps, or sulfates. 

FAQs

What shampoos are harmful to dogs?

Any human shampoo can be harmful to dogs because they strip their skin of the natural protective oils that prevent bacterial and fungal infections while keeping the skin hydrated. In addition, human shampoo may be more harmful to some dogs than others, based on specific skin conditions. For example, dogs with dry, irritated skin should never use human shampoo because it can cause allergic reactions, irritation, and even dryer skin. 

Can I make dog shampoo at home?

While we recommend using a vet-formulated dog shampoo to bathe your dog, we understand you might not always have some on hand. You can make your own dog shampoo at home with warm water, non-toxic dish soap, and white vinegar.2

Non-toxic dish soap removes dirt, oil, and grease without stripping your dog's skin of its natural oils, while white vinegar acts as an antibacterial deodorant and can improve coat health. To make dog shampoo at home, you need 2 cups of warm water, ¼ cup of dish soap, and ½ cup of white vinegar.2  Since the mixture won't be as thick as dog shampoo, you should put it in a spray bottle and shake it to mix, then work it through your dog's skin and fur and rinse until the shampoo is completely gone.

If your dog has dry skin, you can add or substitute a few ingredients to soothe itchy skin. For example, you can use baking soda and uncooked oatmeal instead of dish soap. Of course, if your dog has a specific skin condition, always consult your vet before trying a new shampoo because certain ingredients can worsen existing skin conditions. 

How often should you bathe your dog? 

How often to bathe your dog depends on their lifestyle. For example, you'll need to bathe a dog that spends most of its time outdoors more than one that enjoys playing indoors. In addition, how often you bathe your dog depends on several other factors, including their coat type and various skin conditions. For example, dogs with long coats need more frequent baths because their fur rubs against the ground. Meanwhile, dogs with specific skin conditions may need to bathe more frequently to eliminate infections. 

Most dogs should be bathed at least once every two or three months. However, you should avoid over-bathing your dog as it can strip their coat’s natural oils and cause skin irritation. In addition, you may need to bathe your dog on an as-needed basis when they get dirty, but you should continue to stick to a bathing schedule to prevent dirt and oil buildup that can cause skin irritation and odor. Luckily bathing a dog is easier than bathing a cat because you can do it outside in a tub or pool during the summer months. Still, many dogs hate baths, so you may need to work on training to get them more comfortable in the tub. 

What other dog grooming is necessary?

Bathing your dog isn't the only thing pet parents need to do to ensure the health and happiness of their pets. Other types of dog grooming include:

  • Brushing: Dogs with long coats should have their fur brushed regularly to prevent painful tangles and knots. Of course, how often you brush your dog depends on their fur type. For example, short-haired dogs may not need to be brushed, while long-haired dogs should be brushed every few days. 
  • Ear cleaning: Dog ears can get dirty over time, especially if your pup has a habit of digging in the yard or going on adventures outside. Not cleaning your dog's ears can lead to painful ear infections, so you should aim to clean your ears regularly and after bathing to remove moisture and bacteria. Most dogs should have their ears cleaned at least once a month, but always clean your dog's ears after swimming to ensure they're properly dried. 
  • Trimming nails: Most dogs need their nails trimmed at least once a month. However, how often your dog needs their nails trimmed depends on how fast their nails grow and their lifestyle. For example, dogs who spend a lot of time walking on pavement and hard surfaces typically need their nails trimmed less often because hard surfaces file down the nails. However, every dog is different, so if you hear your dog's nails clicking on the floor, it's time for a nail trim
  • Fur trimming: Dogs with long fur typically need to be groomed every few months, but your dog may need their fur trimmed every month, depending on their coat type. Every dog has different grooming needs, so you should learn as much as you can about your dog's breed. 
  • Tooth brushing: You should aim to brush your dog's teeth daily to prevent plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to periodontal disease. However, most dogs are resistant to tooth brushing, so you should at least try to care for your dog's dental health at home by using dental chews and other products that can remove bacteria from their mouths. In addition, you can take your dog to the vet for a professional cleaning every year to prevent tooth decay and other potentially life-threatening illnesses caused by periodontal disease. 

Black and white puppy in bath with soap on its head

Final Notes 

Taking care of your pet means more than feeding and walking them daily. Their skin and coat must be properly cared for. Can you use regular shampoo on dogs? No. You should always use dog-specific shampoo to treat specific skin conditions. Even if your dog has healthy skin, you should never use human shampoo because it can cause irritation and dry skin that can lead to infection. 

Unsure what dog shampoo is best for your pooch? Consult a Dutch vet. We can help you find the right safe dog shampoo based on their medical history and skin issues to help them heal and prevent dry, itchy skin. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Reisen, Jan. “Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs? Why Dog Shampoo Is Better.” American Kennel Club, 30 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/human-shampoo-on-dogs/.

  2. Reisen, Jan. “Easy Homemade Dog Shampoo.” American Kennel Club, 25 June 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/easy-natural-homemade-dog-shampoo/.

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