Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

If you have a dog, you know how important it is to keep them clean and healthy. But what if you run out of dog shampoo or forget to buy some? Can you just use your own shampoo on your dog? The answer is no. In this article, I will explain why human shampoo is bad for dogs and what you can do instead.

Human Shampoo vs. Dog Shampoo

You may think that shampoo is shampoo, and it doesn’t matter what kind you use on your dog. After all, it’s just soap, right? Wrong. Human shampoo and dog shampoo are very different products, and they are not interchangeable.

The main difference between human shampoo and dog shampoo is the pH level. pH stands for potential of hydrogen, and it measures how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline.

Human skin has a normal pH level of around 5.5, which means it is slightly acidic. This helps protect our skin from harmful bacteria and fungi that can cause infections. Human shampoo is designed to match this pH level and keep our skin healthy.

Dog skin, on the other hand, has a normal pH level of around 6.5 to 7.5, which means it is more neutral or slightly alkaline. This helps protect their skin from parasites and allergens that can cause itching and irritation. Dog shampoo is designed to match this pH level and keep their skin healthy.

If you use human shampoo on your dog, you will disrupt their natural pH balance and damage their acid mantle. The acid mantle is a thin layer of oil and sweat that covers the skin and acts as a barrier against germs and moisture loss. If you wash it away with human shampoo, you will leave your dog’s skin vulnerable to infections, dryness, flaking, itching, and scratching.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Another difference between human shampoo and dog shampoo is the frequency of use. Humans typically wash their hair every day or every other day, depending on their hair type and personal preference. Dogs, however, do not need to be bathed as often.

The general rule of thumb is to bathe your dog once a month or whenever they get dirty or smelly. Of course, this may vary depending on your dog’s breed, coat type, activity level, and health condition. Some dogs may need more frequent baths than others, especially if they have skin problems or allergies.

Bathing your dog too often can also be harmful to their skin and coat. It can strip away the natural oils that keep their fur shiny and soft, and make them more prone to matting and tangling. It can also dry out their skin and cause irritation and flaking.

What to Do If You Don’t Have Dog Shampoo

So what should you do if you don’t have any dog shampoo on hand and your dog needs a bath? The best thing to do is to go to the nearest pet store or order some online as soon as possible. Dog shampoo is not very expensive, and it will last you a long time if you use it sparingly.

But what if you have an emergency situation where your dog has rolled in something disgusting or gotten into something toxic? Can you use human shampoo on your dog then? The answer is yes, but only as a last resort.

If you have no other option but to use human shampoo on your dog, make sure you choose the gentlest one possible. Avoid any shampoos that contain harsh chemicals, fragrances, dyes, or alcohol. These can irritate your dog’s skin and eyes even more.

A good option is to use baby shampoo or mild dish soap on your dog. These are usually pH balanced and gentle enough for sensitive skin. However, they are still not ideal for dogs, so use them sparingly and rinse them off thoroughly.

Another option is to make your own homemade dog shampoo using natural ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. For example, you can mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. This will create a mild cleansing solution that will help remove dirt and odors from your dog’s coat.

You can also add some oatmeal or cornstarch to the mixture to help soothe your dog’s skin and reduce inflammation. Oatmeal and cornstarch are both natural moisturizers that can help restore your dog’s acid mantle and prevent dryness.

To use this homemade dog shampoo, wet your dog’s fur with warm water and massage the solution into their coat. Avoid getting it into their eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with clean water. Repeat if necessary until your dog is clean and fresh.


Human shampoo is not suitable for dogs and can cause serious harm to their skin and coat. It can disrupt their natural pH balance, damage their acid mantle, and expose them to infections, dryness, flaking, itching, and scratching.

Dog shampoo is specially formulated to suit the needs of your canine companion and keep them clean and healthy. It is the only shampoo you should use on your dog, and you should use it sparingly and only when necessary.

If you don’t have any dog shampoo on hand and your dog needs a bath, you can use human shampoo or homemade dog shampoo as a temporary solution. However, you should do this only in an emergency situation and not as a regular practice.

I hope this article has helped you understand why human shampoo is bad for dogs and what you can do instead. I learned this the hard way when I used my own shampoo on my dog and he ended up with a nasty rash. I felt so bad for him and I vowed to never do that again.

Now I always keep a bottle of dog shampoo in my bathroom cabinet and another one in my car. You never know when your dog might need a bath, especially if they love to explore and get into trouble. But with the right shampoo, you can keep them clean and happy without harming their skin and coat.