What's The Difference Between Dog Shampoo And Human Shampoo?

You've just filled up the bath for your dog. Suddenly, you realize that you're out of dog shampoo. Does this mean you won't be able to wash your dog? Or can you use human shampoo on your dog?

dachshund taking bath in sink
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While it may seem harmless, you should avoid reaching for that bottle of human shampoo. It's best to put off a dog bath until you can get to the pet store and get a proper bottle of shampoo for your pooch. Dogs have distinctive needs, and you don't want to risk making your dog uncomfortable.

The differences between human shampoo and dog shampoo

Human shampoo is made of a special formula that is suitable for human hair and skin, while dog shampoo is just for dogs. Dog and human skin do not have the same pH balance, which is a balance of alkalinity and acidity. Human skin is more acidic, with a pH balance of 5.5 to 5.6, while dogs have a neutral pH balance of 6.2 to 7.4. Also, humans have 10 to 15 skin cell layers, while dogs have three to five.

If you use human shampoo on your dog, it could result in your dog having dry and flaky skin and being vulnerable to things like viruses, parasites, and bacteria. It will also eliminate some oils that protect his coat and skin.

If you're in a bind—let's say, your dog rolled in another pup's feces while on you were on a walk or he's covered in dirt from the yard—then using a little human shampoo shouldn't cause a big problem. Usually, your dog will only develop problems on his coat and skin if you use human shampoo every time you bathe him.

Golden Retriever enjoying a bath
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Dog bath tips

When it comes to giving your dog a bath, you need to do more than use the proper shampoo. Make sure you aren't bathing your pup too often; only bathe him when he is dirty or smelly. Once every other week at most should be fine. If you do it more often, you could strip away the natural oils on the coat and skin and cause his skin to become flaky and itchy.

If your pup has long hair, brush it before the bath. The water should be warm but not hot, and you should towel dry in case the blow dryer is too hot. When rinsing, you need to go from the head to the tail and protect your dog's eyes and ears from the water.

Choosing a dog shampoo

When buying a dog shampoo, opt for ones that are organic and contain natural ingredients. Steer clear of shampoos with a lot of chemicals and dyes. Natural shampoos may contain things like pet-safe essential oils, aloe vera, and oatmeal, which should be safe for your dog. If you notice a rash on your dog or he is scratching himself after a bath, then he may be having an allergic reaction to the shampoo.

tiny wet dog in bathtub
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You also have the option of making your own dog shampoo. Take 2 cups of warm water, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 1/4 cup of dish soap, mix all the ingredients together in a bottle, and use them on your pup next time you give him a dog bath. In case your dog has dry skin, go with a homemade oatmeal dog shampoo. Just combine 1 quart of warm water, ½ cup of baking soda, and 1 cup of uncooked, ground up oatmeal to make it. If you're in a hurry, you can also use dry dog shampoo as an alternative. You can also make homemade dog bath wipes for when you're in a pinch!