We have all done it, started to wash our dog, and discovered we are out of dog shampoo. Then we have an idea, can I use human shampoo on my dog? It would be best if you did not use human shampoo on dogs. However, if you are left with no other choice, a small amount of baby shampoo is recommended, as it is much less harmful.
Dog shampoo is specifically designed to keep your canine friend clean and smelling fresh, and if you care about your pet, you'll want a shampoo made for a dog with all-natural ingredients that won't dry out your dog's skin or strip away any oils.
Why Should you not use Human Shampoo on a Dog?
It is essential to understand that dogs and humans have very different types of skin and very different pH balances. Human skin has a pH balance of 5.5-5.6, which is slightly acidic. Dogs have a pH balance of 6.2-7.4, which is more alkaline.
Shampoo with the wrong pH balance, exposure to soaps and chemicals, and excessive washing with the shampoo can inflame a dog's skin and strip away the protective oils. This disrupts the acid mantle, a thin film on the skin's surface that acts as a barrier that protects the outermost skin layer, the stratum corneum, making their skin dry and flaky.
The skin barrier is similar to our skin. It has oil and sweat glands, hair follicles, and sebaceous glands that produce oil. It also has nerve endings that respond to touch, heat, cold, pain, and pressure. The skin barrier protects dogs from harsh environments, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
What are the effects of Human Shampoo on your Dog’s Skin?
Dryness, excessive shedding, itching, and even hair loss are the effects that can arise if you use human shampoo to wash your dog. They contain chemicals, perfumes, and dyes that are too strong for the dog's sensitive skin. If the skin barrier (acid mantle) is disrupted, your dog may end up scratching incessantly, leading bacteria, viruses, or contaminants to invade the skin and cause infections.
In addition to the issues already mentioned, there's also the problem that human shampoo contains chemicals that can harm your dog if ingested.
The chemicals in human shampoos that can be harmful to your dog
Human shampoos often contain ingredients that are not good for our dogs. Chemicals and harsh detergents can cause skin irritation and eye infections and are toxic if inhaled. This comes as a surprise to many dog owners, who are often shocked to find out that the shampoo they use on their own hair is toxic to their dogs.
This leaves many of us querying what we are actually putting on our own heads, as choosing a shampoo can be pretty daunting if we are striving for the perfect mane.
There are several chemicals in human shampoos that are not safe for dogs. These include:
- isopropyl alcohol, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system depression;
- propylene glycol, which can cause redness and irritation of the skin, mouth, and throat;
- ethyl alcohol, which can cause central nervous system depression;
- fragrance ingredients that can cause skin or respiratory tract irritation.
It is best to avoid using shampoos that do not contain the ingredients listed above.
Why would someone want to use human shampoo on their dog?
In today's society, pets are treated as family members, with most owners feeling that not only do they deserve the best but that their canine companions deserve the same. However, quality dog shampoo can be expensive, and depending on how much you use; some will only last a few washes. This is why some choose to use human shampoo on their pet, not knowing the risks involved adding that it is worth the risk to save some money.
Another use is to use human shampoo on their dog in an emergency to get their dog clean as soon as possible if there is no dog shampoo available at that time.
According to the American Kennel Club, if it's in an emergency and you have no dog shampoo, then you should know that it’s okay to use human hair shampoo, preferably baby shampoo, as a one-time measure to save your pet.
Tips for using human shampoo on a dog
We all love giving our canine companions a little bath when they get too dirty, so here are some tips on shampooing your pet if you have run out of their product and have to use a shampoo that is used for human use.
It would be best to use a shampoo recommended for babies instead of an adult shampoo because the latter could seem harsher on your dog’s skin and fur, making it less likely that you will need to repeat it.
- Use a shampoo that has a shortlist of ingredients. Preferably with the least amount of chemicals. Ingredients such as oatmeal, lavender, tea tree, and aloe vera would be good as these are less likely to damage your dog’s skin.
- Wet your dog well. Dog and human shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulfate. It is an emulsifier and foaming agent which needs a lot of water to do its job.
- It's best to rub a small amount of shampoo on your hands before massaging it onto your pet's fur to avoid too much product.
- Avoid rubbing the shampoo into their skin as this may irritate the acid mantle, the protective layer of the skin, when it is being washed.
- If you must wash their head, avoid getting shampoo in their eyes or mouth. The shampoo is not toxic when it is in small amounts, but it can cause irritation to the eyes, and if ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Give your dog a thorough rinsing. It should take much longer to do this than usual as you want to remove as much hair product as possible to prevent further issues later on.
How to find the best shampoo for your dog?
There are many different shampoos for dogs on the market which can be pretty daunting. It is essential to find one that is specifically made for your dog's breed and coat type. Shampoos for dogs are an important way to prevent drying out the skin and fur of your dog.
Maintaining the skin barrier to do its job will help protect and keep the body hydrated by absorbing water and reducing evaporation. They're also a great way to make sure you can keep your pet clean and smelling fresh.
The good news is that there are many different shampoos specially formulated for dogs, which means finding one specific to what type of coat your dog has should be easy and make it less daunting.
Using human shampoo on dogs is not a good idea because a dog’s skin is different from human skin, and you should always use a product designed for the application you want to use it for. Therefore use dog shampoo on dogs and human shampoo on humans; dogs also have a much better sense of smell than we have and do not always like products that are too fragrant.