Sometimes, dogs can suffer from dry skin or skin irritations just like people. When it becomes a concern, the best thing to do is to take your dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis and the proper medication. However, if your dog does not seem uncomfortable and you simply want to cleanse and moisturize her skin, you can do this in the comfort of your own home with dog shampoo and a human lotion, like one from Jergens. Although using a human moisturizer isn't ideal for a dog's skin, it's generally safe to use in small amounts.
How is dog skin different from human skin?
You're probably wondering why using a human lotion on dogs isn't the best idea, and the answer is that dog skin is different from human skin. Human skin has a natural pH of around 5.5, while the pH of dog skin ranges between 6.2 and 7.4. Essentially, your dog's skin is much more neutral than human skin, which is slightly more acidic.
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This means that products crafted for humans, like lotion and shampoo, can possibly cause irritation for your dog if used frequently and in large amounts. Dog skin is also much thinner than human skin — about three times thinner. This means that it's much more sensitive to any additives in lotions as well.
Dog dry skin and Jergens lotion
Ideally, you want to use a dog-specific moisturizer on your pup, but if you don't have one on hand, you can use a bit of Jergens lotion in very small amounts instead. When choosing which Jergens moisturizer to use on your dog, look for one with natural and nontoxic ingredients, like aloe, coconut oil, honey, argan oil, or shea butter, as these are soothing to your dog's skin. These ingredients will calm the skin and even add a bit of moisture to her coat.
Before using any type of moisturizer on your dog, place a tiny bit of lotion on your finger and test it on a small patch of your dog's skin. Wait a few hours and watch for any signs of redness or irritation on the spot where you tried the lotion. If there are no ill effects, you can use the lotion on a larger area of skin.
Using lotion on dogs
If your dog's skin seems dry and itchy, you should not slather your dog in human lotion. Not only will this make his coat greasy and matted but your dog will likely lick the lotion off his coat.
Fortunately, most Jergens lotions don't contain any potentially harmful ingredients, like dibucaine, lidocaine, or 5-fluorouracil, all of which are toxic to dogs. Even still, you'll want to prevent your dog from licking the lotion off his coat to prevent any potential stomach upset that could result.
To moisturize your dog's skin without getting him greasy and coated in lotion that he can lick off, first give him a bath using a dog-safe shampoo containing a skin-soothing ingredient, like oatmeal. Once you wash and rinse your dog, it's time to moisturize him while he's still damp to dilute the lotion. For a small dog, dispense only about a dime- to quarter-size amount of lotion into your hands and lightly apply it evenly to the dog. For a medium to large dog, use a quarter to half-dollar size, or about a tablespoon. Brush it through and your dog will be left with a shiny coat.
Dog dry skin causes and considerations
Dogs get dry skin for a variety of reasons, from food or environmental allergies to flea infestations. Because of this, you'll want to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine the cause of her dry skin. Your vet can also prescribe dog-specific creams and lotions for her skin that are safer than lotions for humans.
- Jergens: Products
- American Kennel Club: Dry Skin on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
- VCA Hospitals: Applying Ointments, Creams, and Lotions on Dogs
- American Kennel Club: Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?
- Vetwest: Skin - The Difference Between Canine and Human Skin
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Poisonous Household Products