Is there really any difference between dog shampoo & human shampoos?

HappyTails2We hear this question all the time– “what’s the difference between my shampoo and my dog’s shampoo?”

You may be surprised to learn that a lot is different. Of course, if you run out of Fido’s shampoo and you use your own to wash your dog a couple of times, nothing will happen. Your dog’s hair won’t fall out and life will probably go on as normal.

But there are areas in which human and dog shampoos differ. You may not notice the ill effects of human shampoo if used only a couple of times, but after repeated use, you’ll start to see.

1. Ingredients. Dog’s have different problems that humans do. We usually don’t sit around and scratch our heads as much as dogs scratch. This is because dog’s eliminate toxins differently than we do. We can sweat them out. Since dogs really don’t sweat, their toxins are eliminated through their kidneys and bowels. Try an all natural herbal detoxifier that you add to your dog’s food. As a topical solution to relieve itchy skin and soothe skin inflammations try products with colloidal oatmeal , boswellia, burdock and comfrey. The best shampoo to help relieve itchy skin is Comfy Dog Oatmeal Shampoo for Dry & Itchy Skin.

2. Ph Balance. A dog’s skin is about 7.5 while human skin is about 5.5 (to put it in perspective, water is about 7.0). Therefore, a dog’s skin is more alkaline so ideally a dog’s shampoo should be between 6.5-7.5 or it could be irritating to the skin. Highly acidic shampoos may also diminish the hair’s protective qualities, removing valuable oil from the coat and skin. the result is dry, irritated skin and a dull coat. Of course it’s a vicious cycle because the dog will scratch which only makes the problem worse.

3. Dog’s have sensitive skin– A dog only has about 3-5 cell-layers thick while we have about 10-15 layers thick. So, harsh shampoos with lots of chemicals and those that aren’t PH balanced will be irritating.

The case for conditioners – Shampoos by design are used for cleaning- removing unwanted grime from the skin and coat. But shampooing, without sealing the coat afterwords, leaves the hair shaft open– at that point residue can enter and oils and hydration escapes.

What you can do is use a conditioner after shampooing to close the hair cuticle and restore hydration, moisture and elasticity.

Conditioners also fill in the damaged hair that drying, brushing, dematting and rubbing causes. Just normal wear and tear chips away at the hair cuticle. Conditioners can help to remove the cuticle to a smooth state and one that gives a more lustrous appearance and feel.

The best deep conditioner I’ve used is Fur Butter (or Fur Worse). It’s an oatmeal based ultra rich conditioning treatment for dry, damaged and long coats. It’s the richest conditioner I’ve used and leaves the dog very soft & silky.

So now you know the difference– there really is one!

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17 Comments


  1. Wow, I didn’t know this. I’ve used normal shampoo on my dog once, indeed when I ran out of dog shampoo, but from now on I’ll always keep a spare flask. Thanks!

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  2. OMG. That is soooooooooo silly. WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY TEST HUMAN PRODUCTS ON ???????

    Let me give you the right information….and not some pet product salesman. You can and should wash you dog with human shampoo and avoid the not regulated ‘scam’ pet shampoo. You might as well be washing your dog with dishwashing liquid. Vets prescribe human shampoo like ‘selsun blue’ and others as medicated shampoos for pets alllllll the time.

    OMG. I can’t believe this really bad information. Excuse meeeeee. You can wash a baby with baby shampoo but not a dog ? OMG. Have you seen what dogs roll in ???

    I can’t go on….I am to discusted by this article. Do you know that all pet food can be consumed by humans ?
    And noooooooooo milk does not give worms.
    Know what I mean

    Reply

    1. Can I use dog shampoo? Or would I be better off using laundry detergent?

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  3. I think it’s fair to say that clearly Francine off her rocker.

    You are absolutely 100% correct and Francine obviously has no idea what she’s talking about. “OMG! Nooooooooooo.”

    I’m amazed at all the false misinformation I’m finding on the web which says that dish detergent is fine for dogs. If people were as sue happy over dogs as they were over humans, you would soon see all of that disappear.

    I do have one question for you though that I can’t quite figure out. What about making your own shampoo? We live in a world where people are trying to call themselves holistic naturalists. These are the same people who regularly have exterminators come to their house with pesticides. In any case, what is your opinion on the use of oils and vinegars in place of shampoo?

    I never did very well in chemistry, but vinegar is very acidic if I remember properly, but it has such wonderful properties and does make the coat silky… at least after one use. What would be a good companion so it could best be used, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Reply

    1. Do you know how bad a dog will smell with his natural oils mixing with vinegar? That’s not only gross but messed up

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      1. I agree. I followed someone’s instructions and added vinegar to my puppy’s “refreshing” wipes and the smell of vinegar and pup was not pleasant! I don’t even think she liked it!

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  4. So I can use my own shampoo and conditioning on my puppy ??

    Reply

  5. Very nice round up!

    If you have to use baby shampoo, the best choice would be Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. It’s mild and tearless and it will not harm dog’s skin.

    Reply

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