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Home > Dogs > Can Humans Use Dog Shampoo? Vet Approved Safety and Efficacy

Can Humans Use Dog Shampoo? Vet Approved Safety and Efficacy

Man getting shampoo treatment from hairdresser

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Anyone who purchases dog shampoo might find themselves wondering whether or not it can be used on human hair. This question can arise out of natural curiosity or out of a desperate situation where dog shampoo is the only option available. While you can use dog shampoo in a pinch to wash out dirt or sweat from your hair, you should not use dog shampoo regularly. It is not an effective shampoo for humans. That is because dog shampoo is fundamentally different than human shampoo. It is designed for use on fur, not hair.

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Made for Dog Fur Not Human Hair

Dog shampoo is specifically designed for use on dogs and not people. While this sounds innocuous, it actually is quite a big difference. Dog fur has a completely different pH balance than human hair, and it needs different compounds to stay strong and healthy. Human hair prefers a slightly acidic pH balance, while dog fur prefers a neutral to basic pH balance. This difference means that dog shampoo will throw off the natural balance of your scalp and hair, which can lead to some unpleasant side effects.


Side Effects of Using Dog Shampoo

Shampoo from a bottle onto a hand
Image Credit: lin3179, Pixabay

If you use dog shampoo regularly, you will start to run into problems with your hair’s health. First, many canine focused shampoos come with strong chemicals that kill or deter fleas and other common pests found on dogs. These chemicals can irritate a human scalp leading to itching and burning.

The mismatched pH balance will also lead to dry skin and dandruff in humans. A bad pH balance on the scalp can even predispose you to fungal skin infections and bacterial growth. Gross!

Finally, the hair itself will become brittle and flat. Healthy hair is hair that receives all of the necessary compounds to keep it strong and growing as well as a healthy pH balance and oil content. Dog shampoo will work to counteract all of these thingst leaving your hair limp and dull. It can even lead to some hair breaking easily and falling out. None of these things are desirable for a good head of hair.

Can You Use Dog Shampoo To Combat Lice or Fleas?

What about using dog shampoo to help combat lice or fleas? People can pick up these pests the same as dogs can. While that is true, there are better and more effective methods designed for people. In a pinch, you could use a dog shampoo that features chemicals designed to ward off fleas. It might help with lice. But there are medicated shampoos designed specifically for people that would be better.

Using dog shampoo once, in any capacity, won’t lead to long-term issues. Using dog shampoo repeatedly or regularly will lead to issues. If you want to give your hair a wash with dog shampoo to try and get rid of lice or fleas, you can.  But it might not be very effective, and you should definitely not make a habit out of using dog shampoo in place of regular shampoo.

Related Read: Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Rabbits?



Using dog shampoo once to try it out won’t have a noticeable effect on your hair. It does not clean better than human shampoo. However, over time, using dog shampoo can lead to some serious negative side effects for the health of your hair and scalp. It is best to leave the dog shampoo for the dogs and use regular human shampoo for your own hair.

Featured Image Credit: jackmac34, Pixabay

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