Why Using Human Shampoo On Dogs is Dangerous

Did you know that prolonged use of human shampoo for dogs will ruin their skin?

If not, you better pay attention to the important things I'm about to tell you about using any type of human shampoo on dogs.

I will also discuss the consequences pet owners usually encounter when they do that.

Because human shampoo is cheaper, many pet owners choose this route when bathing their pets, but it's a dangerous road to take.

As a pet groomer, bathing and shampooing dogs is what I do regularly.

Below, we'll discuss dog shampoos that use human shampoo on pets. 

I'll provide some insight and information about why you should never use human shampoo on your canine.

I will also share the type of dog grooming products that I use to bathe my dog.

Why Using Human Shampoo On Dogs is Dangerous

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Yes, dog shampoos can be expensive

Dog shampoo can indeed break the bank for some pet parents.

I'm not the one to spend $15+ on shampoos, even for myself.

However, that's not to say I don't splurge on my dog because she gets more stuff than I do.

Dog shampoo is like the human stuff, and the same laws apply: if you cheap out, you're getting exactly what you paid for.

Plus, if you have a dog with a skin condition, such as sensitive skin, specialty shampoos can be up to $30, if not more.

For example, dog shampoos like the Pet Head Inc PH10117 Natural Oatmeal Shampoo are going for around $150.00 at the time of this writing.

I just saw this on Amazon. It's crazy.

However, feel free to do so if you have the money to afford some of these insanely expensive dog grooming products like the shampoo above.

All the positive reviews are probably correct. 

I wouldn't be surprised if they manufacture the best dog shampoo you can buy for that price.

RELATED: Grooming Different Types of Dog Coats

But most of us pet parents cannot afford dog shampoos for that price.

However, there's one option you can consider if you want an affordable, safe-to-use grooming product for your pup, and I'll talk about it later.

That's the stuff that I use.

Your dog's pH balance

Below you can see a picture of a dog's pH balance.

Dog Shampoo - Canine Ph Balance Chart
Photo: caninecaviar.com

Your dog's pH balance is extremely important and should never be ignored.

Like human skin, a dog's skin and coat can become highly irritated and damaged if you ignore their requirements.

I will now go into more detail about a dog's pH balance and the proper pH balance for their skin.

As you can see above, 7 is labeled as pure water, where it stays.

However, using human shampoo messes up your dog's pH balance to a great extent.

RELATED: Step by Step – How to Bathe A Dog At Home Correctly

A dog's skin has a balance of around 7.5, while human skin has a pH balance of about 5.5.

Again, pure water is at 7.

The human shampoo has quite a lot of acidity, which dogs are more sensitive to.

To better explain the above canine pH balance chart, levels from 5 to 6.2 are considered normal for human skin. 

In contrast, dogs' levels range from 5.5 to around 7.5, a more alkaline concentration.

Humans have a more alkalinity concentration.

If you're looking for a more scientific argument as to why you should never use a human shampoo on a dog, then you have one.

Shampoo formulated and manufactured for human skin will disrupt the dog's acid mantle.

This creates an area for viruses, parasites, and bacteria to go crazy on a dog.

In short, using human shampoo on your dog instead of a proper dog shampoo formulated for canines puts him at a higher risk for bacteria.

This leaves them vulnerable to severe skin conditions, such as skin infections.

RELATED: How to Calm Your Dog Before Grooming

Your dog will also have problems with dry skin, severe sensitivity, or even both.

This will cause your pup to relentlessly scratch, break the skin, and cause it to bleed. 

Because his acid mantle has been severely disrupted, an infection will break out five times more easily, if not more.

My dog's coat

Why Using Human Shampoo On Dogs is Dangerous for Dogs

For those of you who already know my dog, Anastasia, from my previous columns, you don't necessarily need to read this part, but I do recommend it. 

My dog Anastasia is an Emotional Service Animal, also known as an ESA, a working therapy dog.

Because she's in public with me so much, her coat tends to get very dirty.

We also spend hours a day at the dog park together when I'm not writing articles.

You'd think that staying on top of her coat and making sure it's always clean would be an expensive hassle because of the prices for dog shampoo these days.

That is not the case, however. 

I spend at most $5 every time I need to grab more of my secret weapon.

My point is that I get so many compliments on her coat, and I always get questions on how I keep her skin so clean, shiny, and always looking good.

What I usually tell people catches them off-guard because I don't use dog shampoo.

RELATED: How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs

Even though my dog has a grain allergy, I don't use specialty dog shampoos, regular shampoos, or anything related.

Most canine shampoos are too hard on my pet's skin because they upset the dog's pH balance, but my secret weapon is perfect for her needs, and I'm sure it would be perfect for your dog's skin, too.

Why Using Human Shampoo On Dogs is Dangerous for Dogs

Click on the image to the right to enlarge it

That's my Anastasia.

You can see her coat's shine, and I take great pride in that.

Since I always want to look my best in public because it makes me feel good about myself, and I want my dog to have that feeling, too.

You can spend a ton of money on overly expensive dog grooming products that will ensure total coat perfection.

OR, you could go with a straightforward trick that takes minutes to do during your dog's bath time.

This is all the while, without breaking the bank, an essential factor for most of us pet parents living on a budget.

My secret weapon to my dog's coat perfection

Using human shampoo can be a quick fix if your dog needs a bath from, say, rolling around outside, but if you don't have any proper shampoo, is it worth the risk to your dog?

It's really not. And if you don't have any dog shampoo on hand, then my little secret will work.

Take a look at this:

Why Using Human Shampoo On Dogs is Dangerous
This is the cheap baby shampoo I'm using on my dogs. It works!


I use baby shampoo with my dog

Yes, it's technically human shampoo, but for babies.

It works because the ingredients and the effect are entirely different from what you get in an actual human shampoo designed for adults.

Yes, it's that simple, and it's CHEAP.

You can pick one of these babies in your local store for around five dollars a bottle.

How did I devise the idea to use baby shampoo on my dog's coat?

Good question. 

I started using baby shampoo on my canine Anastasia by accident.

One day my pup and I were visiting a friend who has kids.

We were all outside playing in his backyard with his kids.

And Anastasia decided it'd be a good idea to knock over the bowl of water we left for her and roll around in the mud she had just made.

RELATED: Grooming Your Dog at Home

My friend was giving us a ride home after his kids left, and I wasn't about to bring my muddy best friend into his clean car.

So, I asked if we could use his bathtub so I could give her a quick wash.

My friend also has a German Shepherd mix dog, so he has dog shampoo on hand.

However, when it was time to grab the dog shampoo, I grabbed his kid's baby shampoo instead.

Silly me.

I didn't notice until I had finished bathing my dog, and she was already being dried with a towel. 

Honestly, I freaked out.

I was worried I had just damaged my dog's skin beyond repair.

Anastasia also has a grain allergy, so I was worried that the baby shampoo would cause it to flare up, and she'd have to go to the vet.

Fortunately, none of that happened!

Once she ran herself dry, I noticed how gorgeous her coat looked.

She was sparkling in the sun!

My friend and I were pleasantly surprised, so I called my vet to see if this was an okay thing to do.

My veterinarian confirmed that baby shampoo is good for dogs and that I worked myself up too much for no reason.

After that day, I never bought anything else for my dog but baby shampoo.

It continues to work wonders: shiny, clean coat and absolutely no damage to the dog's hair or skin.

RELATED: How to Get Your Dog to Love Bathing

As I said before, I'm not the one to skimp out when it comes to my dog, but from now on, I will only use baby shampoo.

It costs less than $5, won't harm your dog's skin, and creates a beautiful, healthy, clean coat every time.

This brand pictured above is a Target brand, but you can buy any brand of baby shampoo.

I usually buy this one on a budget, but Johnson's is also a good choice.

Babies have skin pH balance similar to dogs: sensitive and incredibly vulnerable to acids and the like, which is why baby shampoo works so well for canines.

If you're pulling your hair out trying to find a specialty dog shampoo for your Fido that works and does not irritate your skin, STOP. 

Go to your local store, grab some baby shampoo, go home, wash your pet, and then come back here and thank me in the comments.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs: Final Thoughts

Your dog's coat can be healthy and glowing without you having to break the bank and go overboard with anything.

You can make bath time simple with one solution or the most challenging time of your life.

READ NEXT: 5 Best Medicated Dog Shampoos for Dog’s Skin Problems

Katherine is certified in Domestic Animal Sciences and Animal Grooming with primary focus on dogs. She has had her pet canine, Anastasia, for two years now, who is also her ESA service dog. Katherine has written multiple articles about pets and their grooming, and has knowledge on multiple specialty pet grooming products for dogs.