can you use human shampoo on dogs

Let’s set the scene: It’s B-A-T-H time and you’ve finally managed to get your dog in the water. Congratulations, the hard part is over! Now it’s down to business. First question: Can you use human shampoo on dogs?

Many pet owners simply give their dog a brush over and rinse when it comes to bath time, which is fine depending on their level of activity. If your dog spends most of their time around home then there isn’t much reason to thoroughly wash them frequently. If they get their paws a bit dirty, then sure, a rinse of their legs can help. If they’re outside all day or if they’re a working dog, then they’ll need to have a thorough wash a little more often. No matter what they do, for a proper clean you really need to lather them up with shampoo - and it has to be the right shampoo.

There are many myths surrounding the appropriateness of using regular shampoo on dogs and we definitely do not endorse it. Regular shampoos have a higher acidity that will absolutely ruin your dog’s skin over time. They have more chance of harming your dog’s sensitive areas and they may also contain a fragrance that your dog won’t like such as citrus. Understandably there will be times when in an emergency you may need to wash your dog without any dog shampoo and in this case, a very small amount of regular shampoo can suffice.

Before we launch into which shampoo to use, let’s scrub up quickly on the basics…

Dog Washing 101

It's Bath Time!

When you’re washing your dog there’s a few things to consider:

  • Start with a clean basin, bucket or bathtub
  • You won’t see any results in your dog unless the tub is clean first. You wouldn’t take a bath in a grimy, dirty tub, so why should your dog? Thoroughly wipe down the tub with a sponge or give it a good blast with the hose before you get your dog to jump in.

  • Temperature
  • The outdoor and water temperature are all important factors when you’re bathing your dog. If the water is too cold, they become vulnerable to illness and if the water is too hot then they’ll be exposed to a world of discomfort. Test the water before you let your dog in the bath to ensure it’s at a comfortable temperature. Pick a nice day to wash your dog if you’re going to bathe them outside. It’s important that they aren’t freezing cold in the chilly wind or boiling hot under the summer sun.

  • Get comfy
  • This isn’t just advice for your dog – it’s for you too! Both you and your dog should be totally comfortable during bath time. If you have to stand up while you’re bathing them, make sure you have a mat underneath your feet for added comfort. If you’re kneeling down, make sure all the equipment needed is within reach. Most times having another person with you while you’re bathing the dog helps keep everything run smoothly. This could be a great time to get the whole family involved where everyone has a role in washing the dog. As for your dog, a tasty treat and lots of pats will keep them calm enough to stay still for you while you’re washing them.

  • Be gentle as you wash
  • Washing your dog shouldn’t be rushed. Be extra careful as you wash around their ears, face and privates. These are sensitive areas and if not treated properly can leave your dog in a world of pain. To wash these areas correctly, use an old face washer and gently wipe around to remove any dirt or grime. Keep soap away from your dog’s ears and eyes as much as possible, however if you do accidentally splash some in their face, give them a little break and return to washing when they’ve calmed down or recovered.

Is ‘human shampoo’ safe to use on my dog?

Sure, regular shampoo will do the job when you’re out of dog shampoo, but you really shouldn’t make a habit of using it. It goes without saying that human shampoo is of course made for humans, catering specifically for the human acid mantle (the thin layer of acidity that covers the skin to protect the top layer of skin). The human acid mantle has a pH balance of 5.2 to 6.2 while the pH balance for dogs ranges from 5.5 to 7.5, leaning towards the latter. This makes human shampoo too acidic for dogs. As mentioned, a one off bath with human shampoo won’t do a world of harm, but can cause damage over time. Where possible, we recommend you use a shampoo without any added fragrances like chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus or citrus as these may sting or burn your dog’s skin.

Can I use baby shampoo on dogs?

If you’re caught out at 10pm with a muddy dog and no dog shampoo, a tiny dab of baby shampoo as a last resort can do the trick.

The science suggests that baby shampoo is slightly better to use, as it has a more appropriate pH level. Why is this? As you know, baby shampoo is often advertised as 'tear free' and If you've ever had children who've gotten shampoo in their eyes, you'll understand the appeal! Our eyes have a pH level of seven, as does baby shampoo, which ensures it is more appropriate for your dog's skin, who's pH level as we know ranges from 5.5 to 7.5.

However, the fragrances and colourings in baby shampoo can still cause damage over time, which is why we recommend it as a last resort only.

A squeaky clean dog getting dry!

What are the benefits of using Dog Shampoo?

Dog Shampoos have so much to offer, and the best part is there’s such a huge range to choose from - you and your little friend are going to be spoilt for choice!

Dog Shampoos are great for maintaining your dog’s coat. With every wash your dog’s fur will look shiny and smooth. They’ll smell fragrant and all the debris in their coat will have been washed out thoroughly. Each fragrance used in dog shampoos is made from safe and non-toxic ingredients, so it won’t threaten your dog’s skin.

Dog Shampoo is so much easier to apply than other shampoos. Because it’s specifically made for dogs, the shampoo lathers up quickly so you can get on with bath time efficiently. Because it’s tailor made for dogs, the shampoos can help with a number of ailments or sensitive skin issues, so you can help out your dog just by giving them a bath using one of these shampoos.

Sensitive skin

These shampoos are made with natural ingredients so they don’t irritate sensitive skin, making bath time comfortable for your dog.

Puppy Shampoo

It’s puppy’s first bath time! This can either be the cutest moment of dog ownership or the biggest nightmare you’ve ever had! Keep everything relaxed and start off with one of these puppy-friendly shampoos.

Flea treatment

Whether they’re fighting off fleas now or if you’ve just managed to remove all the parasites, use these shampoos to ensure the debris and flea dirt has all been cleared away and their damaged skin has been repaired and soothed.

Everything in between

These everyday shampoos simply get the job done. They thoroughly clean and leave your dog feeling squeaky clean and they’ll smell fantastic!


If you’re tired of the same old home brand style doggy shampoo then spruce up bath time with these heavenly scented shampoos.


It’s not just once a year that your dog sheds – depending on the weather and climate, your dog may end up shedding a little each month. You can help them out by using one of these great de shedding shampoos to clean out all the old fur in their undercoat and top coat completely.


What is important to take away from this is that while it is safe in most cases to use human or baby shampoo as a one-off, it must be unscented and clear. Human shampoos do not have the right level of pH to cater for puppies or adult dogs and this means that your dog’s skin would suffer over time because of the acidity in the human or baby shampoo. The easiest way to combat this is to use a dog shampoo which are available for all kinds of dogs with all kinds of coats. Most dog shampoos are naturally scented so they’ll leave your dog smelling wonderful without burning their skin. It’s certainly an upgrade from eau de ‘wet dog’.

Posted by My Pet Warehouse