Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

As you prepare your fluffy friend for a much-needed bath, you could be asking yourself whether it’s okay to use human shampoo on dogs. Human and dog skins have varying pH balances that make human skin products less gentle on the dog’s skin. To help you better understand why human shampoo is not good for dogs, let’s first have a look at the skin and how human and dog skins differ.

The skin has a thin layer called the acid mantle, which, apart from keeping the body hydrated by reducing evaporation and absorbing water, protects the topmost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, from contaminants such as bacteria and viruses.

When we bathe, the acid mantle gets washed away, and in order to counter this, soaps and shampoos contain ingredients that moisturize and protect the skin from contaminants until the acid mantle renews itself. The acid mantle needs the proper pH balance (the balance between alkalinity and acidity) to properly do its job.

However, the human skin has a normal pH balance of 5.5-5.6, which is acidic while the dog’s skin has a normal pH balance of between 5.5 and 7.2, which is more alkaline. So, what does human shampoo do to your dog’s acid mantle?

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

No. Using human shampoo on your dog disrupts the acid mantle by lowering the pH balance. This leaves your dog vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Human shampoo also makes the dog’s skin feel dry and flaky, which can cause repeated scratching and abrasions making it easy for bacteria to invade and cause diseases.

Dog’s skin is also more sensitive than ours and has just 3-5 layers of skin cells compared to human skin which has 10-15 layers of skin cells. Using a shampoo with the wrong pH or one with harsh chemicals will not only irritate the dog’s skin but also strip away the protective oils from its skin and coat.

Can I Use Baby Shampoo on Dogs?

A tiny dab of baby shampoo is safe for your dog because it has a dog-friendly pH of about 7. Since dogs’ skin pH balance range between 6.2 and 7.4, baby shampoo will not do much harm. However, only use baby shampoos as a last resort because they contain fragrances and colorings that can cause damage over time.

When Can I Human Shampoo on My Dog?

You can only use human shampoo on dogs as a last resort. Although human shampoo disrupts the acid mantle exposing your dog’s skin to infections, using it as a last resort is okay. Just be sure not to use human shampoo on your dogs regularly as it can lead to skin infections.

Recap: Is Human Shampoo Safe for Dogs?

Human shampoo is not safe for dogs as it lowers the skin’s pH balance and disrupts the acid mantle that protects the skin’s topmost layer from infections. You can, however, use human shampoo on dogs for emergency reasons when you have no dog shampoo. Using it regularly weakens your dog’s skin protective layer exposing them to disease-causing contaminants.

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