How to Bathe a Puppy in Baby Shampoo

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Dogs shampoo is ideal for your dog's bath time because it's specially made for his skin and coat. Human shampoo can be harmful and can make your dog more susceptible to disease. If your puppy really needs a bath and you don't have any dog shampoo, you can use baby shampoo as a safe alternative, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

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Human shampoo can be harmful and can make your dog more susceptible to disease.
Image Credit: Irina Kashaeva/iStock/GettyImages

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Human vs. puppy shampoo and conditioner

The skin of humans and dogs has an outer layer called the acid mantle, which protects the deeper layers of skin from exposure to harmful pathogens. It's important to keep the pH balanced so the acid mantle can maintain a strong barrier. Human skin has a slightly acidic pH of 5.4 to 5.9, and human hair fiber has a pH of 3.67. Human shampoo should have a pH of no higher than 5.5 to avoid negative effects. Dogs' skin has a more neutral pH of anywhere from 5.5 to 7.2, and they should use a shampoo with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

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Human shampoo throws off dogs' pH, making their skin itchy and flaky. It could destroy their skin's acid mantle and leave them vulnerable to viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections. With itchy skin, they're likely to scratch continuously, which puts them at an even greater risk of infection. Dog shampoo for sensitive skin is ideal, but baby shampoo is OK if you're in a bind. Baby shampoo is acceptable because it's made with gentler ingredients and has a pH of about 7, which is better for dogs.

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Tea tree shampoo for dogs

You could add tea tree oil to your dog's shampoo, but if you do, do it carefully. Tea tree oil may be added to dog shampoo as a treatment for pruritus (itchiness) and as a flea repellant. It's effective for most dogs. However, it's also a toxin, and as little as 10 to 20 milliliters (seven or eight drops) on a dog's skin can be fatal.

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Symptoms of tea tree poisoning include:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Itchiness
  • Rash
  • Tremors
  • Extremely low body temperature
  • Decreased heart rate

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If you're going to use tea tree oil, dilute it to 0.1 to 1 percent or stick to commercial products that contain tea tree oil in quantities that are safe for dogs.

Bathing your puppy with baby shampoo

Before you bathe your puppy, making sure she feels comfortable and safe will make bath time a more pleasant experience for both of you. She'll remember that feeling the next time she needs to take a bath. Bath time is a lifelong practice that's nice and easy for dogs who enjoy it, but it could be a great inconvenience under different circumstances.

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Run lukewarm water, as puppies' skin is sensitive, and get your puppy wet. Apply a small amount of baby shampoo, such as Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo, to your dog's skin. Be gentle and make sure you don't get any shampoo in your puppy's eyes or in other sensitive areas. Shield her face from suds.

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Thoroughly rinse all shampoo out of your dog's coat. Any leftover residue can cause irritation. Don't forget to use conditioner, as it helps to moisturize your puppy's skin and coat. Dry your dog appropriately for her coat.

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