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Can You Use Baby Shampoo On Dogs? Is It Effective For Cleaning?

giving a bath to miniature schnauzer dog

Dogs aren’t the cleanest animals on the planet. They require our help with bathing more than cats do. It’s not uncommon for your dog to come home smelling like poop or an animal carcass. Your dog probably enjoyed rolling in it!

As gross as it is, these are things dogs do instinctually. But now your dog smells like garbage, and you can’t have that in your house. This can only mean one thing- the pooch needs a bath.

There are plenty of dog shampoo options available to help clean your dog. But what do you do if all you have is baby shampoo?

divider-dog paw

Can I Use Human Shampoo On My Dogs?

We don’t recommend using human shampoo on your dog—for a few reasons. The primary reason is that animals have a different skin pH level than humans.

Our skin ranges between 5.4 to 5.9 on the pH scale. This means our skin is more acidic. On the other hand, canine skin is more alkaline, resting between 5.5 and 7.2 on the pH scale.

Technically, baby shampoo is human shampoo, but it has a different effect on animals than adult shampoo. Scientists have formulated baby shampoo to gently cleanse a baby’s fragile skin without irritation based on the pH level of baby skin.

Baby skin pH levels are higher than adult skin, around 6.34 to 7.5. These levels change as we age. So, what does this mean? Because baby skin is more alkaline, baby shampoo is safe for dogs, but we don’t recommend its use. 

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo

When you're grooming your own pet, choosing the right pet shampoo is half the battle. We recommend Hepper's Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo because the all-natural, pet-safe formula does a great job of cleaning and moisturizing while avoiding irritation and itching. This soothing shampoo features oatmeal and aloe vera and does not contain sulfates, phthalates, dyes, or soaps. Your pet will love this shampoo as much as you do! 

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


Will Baby Shampoo Soothe My Dog’s Skin?

baby having a shampoo bath
Image Credit: Vitalinka, Shutterstock

Baby shampoo might be wrong if your dog suffers from skin allergies, dry skin, hot spots, or anything else. Baby shampoo cleanses your dog, but it’s unlikely to soothe your dog’s skin. Remember, it’s still a human shampoo intended for human use.

If you’re planning on using baby shampoo to wash your dog, it needs to be a one-time occurrence. Otherwise, you risk irritating your dog’s skin. Dogs have different needs, just like humans. If baby shampoo works for one dog, that doesn’t mean it will work for yours.

However, sometimes push comes to shove, and you need to use what you have. If all you have on hand is baby shampoo, make sure it’s unscented. You can also dilute the shampoo to avoid aggravating your dog’s skin.

Also, try testing the shampoo on a patch of your dog’s skin and wait a few minutes if you have the time. If you don’t notice any irritation, you know it’s okay to use it on your dog’s skin.

Does Baby Shampoo Kill Fleas and Ticks?

Baby shampoo can kill fleas on your dog. The trick is to suffocate the fleas using warm, soapy water. So, it’s not the baby shampoo doing the work. In fact, most soaps will kill fleas. You could use Dawn dish soap to kill the fleas, and you might notice the same results.

If fleas and ticks are a concern, you can use natural home cleaners as dog shampoos to deter these pests. A simple combination of baby shampoo and vinegar often does the trick!


Other Safe Dog Shampoo Alternatives

pump green glass bottle with liquid castile soap
Image Credit: LuminoOne, Shutterstock

It helps to know that you have options for bath time emergencies. Luckily, you can use a few natural products to keep your dog clean. You might already have these products on hand!

  •   Vinegar: Vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial cleanser that works well for your dog. It also has anti-fungal properties and can even deter pests like fleas. You can use a diluted mix of water and white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Both are nontoxic and help keep your dog clean.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is excellent for absorbing odors. You can sprinkle baking soda on your dog’s coat, massage it into the fur, and thoroughly brush it out.
  • Castile Soap: Castile soap is a plant-based soap with no synthetic ingredients. You can find this soap in liquid form or bar form. Both are nontoxic. Just make sure to dilute the soap. Otherwise, it might dry your pup’s skin.
  • Dawn Dish Soap: You’ve probably seen the commercials about Dawn’s efforts for cleaning oil off wildlife. Dawn dish soap can also clean your pup! It’s not a soap you should use all the time because it can strip your dog of its natural oils but grab the Dawn if it’s a bath time emergency. If your dish soap isn’t Dawn, we can’t recommend using it.

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Final Thoughts

Sometimes we don’t have what we need, when we need it. And that’s okay! Baby shampoo is a safe alternative if you don’t have dog shampoo. It matches your dog’s skin pH levels, is gentle, and can be tearless depending on the brand.

Even though it won’t help with fleas and ticks, it can effectively clean your pup. It’s always best to use dog shampoo, so we encourage you to buy some. But if you have a smelly dog in desperate need of a bath, break out the baby shampoo and start scrubbing!


Featured Image Credit: SashkaB, Shutterstock

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