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Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs + Understanding Which Ingredients Are Best for Dog Shampoo | Pupford

August 25th, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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Whether your dog is bathed exclusively at home or you just freshen them up between groomer visits (pups who love to roll around outside, we’re looking at you!), bath time should be another way to give your dog the best. When it comes to bath time, many people wonder if you can use human shampoo on dogs... Quick answer, no! But let's dive into it. ⤵️

After all, a dog's skin and coat are such an important part of their overall health, so it should be cared for the same way you care for their insides.

There’s more to choosing a dog shampoo than you would think, so today we’re going to go over some common dog shampoo questions:

  • Can I use human shampoo on my dog?
  • Why shouldn’t I use human shampoo on my dog?
  • What ingredients should I avoid in dog shampoo?
  • What ingredients should I look for in dog shampoo?
  • How can I get my pup fresh and clean, naturally?

We’re here to answer these questions to help you make the best, safest choices when it comes to getting your dog squeaky clean. Let’s get started!

Related Reading: How to Clean a Dog Without Bathing Them


To state this as simply as we possibly can: NO you cannot use human shampoo on dogs!

Do not use human shampoo on your dog.

While it won’t cause disastrous consequences if done once, it can cause some uncomfortable side effects, especially during prolonged use.


human shampoo should never be used on dogs | Pupford

We’ll explain why with a little science lesson.

Skin (both human and dog) has a layer called the acid mantle, which protects the outer layer from bacteria and viruses while also locking in hydration. Pretty important, huh?

Well, when skin is washed, the acid mantle gets washed away. Most soaps and shampoos have ingredients to counteract the drying effect this has via a balance between acidity and alkalinity -- this is called pH balance.

Human skin has a pH balance of 5.5-5.6, which is considered acidic. Dogs, however, have a pH balance of 6.2-7.4 which is more neutral. So if you use a shampoo designed for a lower pH balance on a higher pH skin, it disrupts the acid mantle.

So if you use human shampoo on your dog, you’ll be damaging the outermost protective layer of their skin and leave them susceptible to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. It will also leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky, which will cause them to bite and scratch at it.

To summarize, your dog’s skin is more sensitive than yours so using a shampoo or soap designed for your skin isn’t ideal for them.

Instead, choose a shampoo that was specifically designed to be used on sensitive dog skin.


dog in a bathtub | Pupford

Unfortunately, dog products are not immune to the issue we see with a lot of human shampoos and soaps -- loading products with chemicals and packaging them in plastic bottles is the cheapest way to get products on the shelf.

But in doing so, we’re exposing our dogs to harmful ingredients that can damage their skin and coat.

Here are some of the most common ingredients you should avoid in dog shampoo:

  • Methylcloroisothiazolinone -- aside from being a mouthful to say, it’s also a known carcinogen and can cause organ damage
  • Fragrance -- this vague ingredient can be used to disguise chemicals like phthalates which can disrupt hormone balance
  • Artificial colors -- make it a habit across the board to avoid any “artificial” ingredients since they can contain dyes and chemicals
  • Mea/Cocomide Dea -- although derived from coconuts, it’s processed so much that it loses its healing properties and actually becomes harmful
  • Mineral oil -- it creates a layer on the skin that can lock in toxins
  • Parabens -- these store in your dog’s body and can disrupt hormone production
  • Formaldehyde preservatives -- while formaldehyde itself won’t be listed in ingredients, it has been reformulated into a “slow-releasing” compound. But it still can trigger a response in your dog that includes burning, itching, or blistering skin, which can lead to butt scooting & itchiness
  • Isothiazolinone -- these preservatives can be skin irritants and cause allergic reactions
  • Isopropyl-40/SD-40 -- this alcohol can be drying to the skin and can actually make it easier for other toxins to be absorbed through pores
  • Sodium benzoate -- when mixed with Vitamin C, it can transform into a cancer-causing chemical
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate -- both are cleaning agents that are skin irritants and can be toxic

If you see any of these ingredients on your dog’s shampoo label, it’s time to make a switch before the next bath! Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, just a few of the most common ones.


coconut and coconut oil | Pupford

So now that you know what to avoid, how do you know what a better choice is?

Here are some ingredients that we love, that you should look for in your dog’s shampoo:

  • Coconut oil -- it’s rich in omega fatty acids and provides a boost of moisture. Read more about omegas for your dog’s skin and coat here.
  • Olive -- this acts as an antioxidant to naturally keep skin healthy while soothing
  • Shea butter -- it adds moisture and has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Avocado -- it penetrates deeply to hydrate and boosts immunity to environmental factors
  • Babassu -- it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which keeps skin clean and promotes wound healing.
  • Neem -- it reduces inflammation, kills bacteria, and protects against environmental factors
  • Bentonite Clay -- it naturally detoxifies the skin to remove dirt, oil, and toxins
  • Nettle Leaf Powder -- it is a natural astringent and helps heal skin irritations
  • Certain essential oils -- some essential oils are perfectly safe and beneficial for your dog because they can promote relaxation and reduce inflammation and irritation. Some safe essential oils include lavender, cornmint, cedarwood atlas, bergamot, lemongrass, rosemary, eucalyptus, and geranium. For more information about which essential oils are safe or unsafe for your dog head here!

These ingredients will keep your dog’s skin and coat clean and healthy, with no irritation or risk to their well-being.


dog in a bathtub waiting for bath | Pupford

We wanted to help pup parents naturally get their dogs fresh and clean...

So we created a brand new dog shampoo bar made with only natural ingredients. It has nourishing and soothing ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, avocado, babassu, neem, and a blend of essential oils that are safe and beneficial for dogs.

Everything you need to clean and soothe your dog’s skin and coat, with no chemicals and no wasteful plastic bottles.

Some things we love about our new shampoo bar (which we think you will, too):

  • It comes in an oxo-biodegradable plastic seal, which is a fancy way of saying it’s better for the environment than a typical plastic shampoo bottle
  • It kills bacteria and helps heal sores and skin irritations
  • It repels bugs for less scratching and biting
  • It promotes the regeneration of healthy skin. Healthy skin = healthy coat = healthy, happy pup!

Click here to shop our new shampoo bar -- and don’t forget to show us your clean pups by tagging us on Instagram at @pupford!

🐶 Don't miss out, shop the Sudsy all-natural shampoo bar today! Shop and save here! 🫧 


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