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Can You Use Human Shampoo / Soap on Your Dog?
No, you cannot use human shampoo / soap on your dog because there are vital differences in the structure (thickness, pH, glands) and functions of human and dog skin. It is best to use a dog shampoo, if not, a simple bath with water greatly helps!
Our dogs are our best companions. They share all our emotions with us and are the most loyal and loving pets to have.
Along with our feelings, they also share our living space.
To ensure good health for them as well as ourselves, we need to make sure there is a certain level of hygiene maintained in the household.
Grooming our dogs is an important process that cannot be skipped.
It ensures their overall health and well-being. After all, a healthy pet is a happy pet. We discuss below in certain detail why dogs need to be shampooed and groomed.
Why do Dogs need Shampoos?
There is no such dog in the world that wouldn’t love jumping into a huge pile of garb that it should be strictly kept away from and roll around in it.
One can credit this to their playful nature or just the usual excitement.
But there are a certain number of factors that determine why dogs need regular cleaning up just like humans.
These key factors are discussed below.
Just like humans, dogs sweat too. It can be due to the climatic conditions or if you have a really active pooch that loves to run around in the sun. Dogs are nothing if not super active.
A sweaty coat can be itchy after some time and can also cause rashes. High levels of physical exercise are one of the most common reasons as to why your dog might need that shampoo from time to time.
To treat dandruff
Dogs can develop a dry flaky skin due to their genes or any other external contributing factors. For this, there are special formulations available in the market.
These can help ease a wide number of skin or coat related problems for your pooch. These problems can range from dandruff, itchiness to red, flaky skin.
To prevent skin infections
If our pets have been exposed to some mud or other garbage, there is a high chance that they have come in contact with some unruly germs that they do not have sufficient immunity against.
Bacterial and fungal skin infections are very common in dogs and regular shampooing will ensure that such a problem is taken care of before it manifests into a more serious infection.
To get rid of dog odor
If you want to keep your house smelling nice, a potpourri is not going to cut it if there’s your pet walking around after happily rolling around in filth.
Shampoos specially formulated for dogs are helpful in this case. They are gentle on the skin and work effectively for removing the dirt and odor from the coat.
To keep wounds clean
If one’s dog has an open wound or has scratched itself way too many times leading to an injury, one has to make sure that the wound is kept clean and well-patched to prevent serious infections.
Disinfecting or anti-microbial shampoos can be of use in this case.
To keep the ticks and fleas away
There are also special shampoo formulations to help your furry friend get rid of the tiny parasites that are troubling it. A good sign that your pet needs a wash with such a shampoo is if you notice them scratching at themselves too much.
A good wash with special flea shampoos can help considerably to give comfort from the itching and scratching.
Summarizing, if one ever notices a change in the temperament of their pet, it can be an indicator of some underlying cause.
It could be fleas or pain due to infection. There are a wide variety of shampoo formulations available in the market for dealing with all sorts of problems from itchiness to shedding.
It always pays to keep an eye out for the small things and take the necessary steps as soon as possible. Prevention can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy.
A more detailed article on Dog Shampoo, types, and benefits here>
How is Dog Skin Different from Human Skin?
Before understanding, if you can use dog shampoo for humans, let’s try to understand the difference in the skin of humans and dogs.
There are certain differences between human skin and dog skin. These are elaborated below.
The epidermis of a dog’s skin is thinner than human skin.
We, humans, have apocrine glands that only produce sweat. But, the dogs have these glands performing two more functions apart from producing sweat.
They secrete certain pheromones that give us the “dog-odor” also, they help to seal the epidermis, keeping it secure. Dogs also perspire from the pads on the bottom of their feet.
Humans have only one hair follicle growing out of the epidermis, while a dog has a bundle of it growing out of a single pore (compound follicles). The whole bundle sheds at once when the root dies out.
Bottom of feet
Very obviously the human skin and dog skin is hard on the sole. For canines, the paw pads don’t only protect them from various surfaces but also, act as shock absorbers.
This forms the roughest portion of dog skin.
Another important fact is that the tissues from this area cannot be replaced with any other skin graft of the dog. This is because of the unique functions offered by them.
pH levels of skin
Canines are known to have nearly the highest pH amongst all species. This means that human skin is comparatively more acidic as compared to that of a dog’s.
The value of this statement gets established with the fact that bacteria can grow in a high pH environment. Hence, any sort of minute imbalance in pH levels of dogs can cause them a lot of trouble.
Acidic would cause burns and alkaline could cause infections, which lead to further damage inwards, since, their epidermis is shallow.
Can we use Human Shampoos / Soap on Dogs?
As elaborated in the previous section, there are vital differences in the structure and functions of human and dog skin. Therefore, it goes without saying that human shampoo / soap cannot be used for dogs.
Some of the fragrances that are added to human shampoos are so harmful to a dog’s skin that it can sting if used directly on their skin.
The pH levels of human skin lean more toward the acidic side as compared to dogs. Dog’s skin’s pH levels (6.2 to 7.4) are slightly higher as compared to humans. Therefore, a regular shampoo can prove to be too acidic for their skin.
Some do claim that baby shampoos can still be a safe option to use for dogs, because of their ‘tear-free’ formula but the fragrances and colors added to make the product appealing are still causing damage to the dog’s skin.
If it’s an absolute emergency, the best alternative would be to use home-made concoctions to get the cleaning done.
Can I use Baby Shampoo on my Dog?
Baby shampoos are milder and thus much less harsh as compared to usual human shampoos. While even they can dry out the skin of your dog, they in an extreme situation can still be used as an alternate.
The primary reason why a baby shampoo can still be used (in extreme case) is good quality baby shampoos do not have hard chemicals, odors and are extremely gentle to the skin.
In the end..
Human shampoo may clean the dog, but it is not good for your dog as a dog and human skin are very different.
If you do not have a shampoo and have a dirty dog, remember, your dog does not need a shampoo every time. Even a good bath with just water (maybe warm) should help a lot in cleaning the coat and take care of dirt.
It is best to use the products that are specially formulated for dogs because they are created to target specific problems with the breed.
This can act more effectively and safely to clean and wash the dog as compared to any other product.