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Can You Use a Human Conditioner on Dogs? Is It Effective?

dog taking a bath

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

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

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After washing your hair, you may reach for your favorite conditioner to leave your luscious locks smooth and shiny. Since hair conditioner works so great on your hair, you may be wondering if you can use human conditioner on your dog.You should not use a human conditioner on your dog because dogs have different skin than humans. More specifically, your dog’s skin has a different thickness and acidity (pH) than your skin. Human conditioner and shampoo, for that matter, are too harsh for your beloved dog’s skin. This is why there are special dog conditioners and shampoos on the market that are made specifically for the type of skin and dogs’ hair.

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What Can Happen If You Use Your Conditioner on Your Dog

Our friends at the American Kennel Club (AKC) tell us that human skin has a normal pH balance between 5.5–6.5, which is rather acidic, and that our canine friends have a more neutral 6.2–7.4 pH balance.

Human hair products, including conditioners, are made to match our pH levels, so our skin doesn’t become irritated or dry after washing our hair. The same is true for dog shampoos and conditioners. They’re made to match the pH levels of dogs’ skin to prevent irritation and dryness.

What does all this mean? It means that if you use your conditioner on your dog, his skin may become irritated or dried out. This can lead to dry, flaky, and itchy skin. And if your dog were to continuously scratch at his itchy skin, it could lead to abrasions.

When a dog has abrasions, he’s constantly scratching; the open sores can easily be invaded by bacteria which could lead to an infection. So put that human hair conditioner away and buy a conditioner made for dogs!

English bulldog having a bath
Image Credit: ChasIKS, Shutterstock

Use a Shampoo and Conditioner Combo

While you can use both a dog shampoo and a dog conditioner on your pooch, a good idea is to use a 2-in-1 product. A dog shampoo and conditioner in one bottle can save you both time and money. This type of product both washes and conditions your dog’s hair so you don’t have to apply shampoo, rinse, then apply conditioner and rinse.

A shampoo and conditioner combo is perfect if your dog doesn’t enjoy being bathed. It will cut the bathing time in half so your pooch can get out of the tub or shower faster. Even though your dog can’t talk, he will thank you for thinking of him by showering you with big sloppy kisses!

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Now that we’re on the topic of dog hair care, you may be wondering how often you should bathe your dog. You should give your dog a bath whenever he gets dirty. For example, if your dog comes in from playing outside in the mud, you should put him in the shower to remove all that mud.Other than that, you should give your dog a bath several times a year so you can clean his fur and check him over for signs of skin problems or lumps that could indicate he has a health problem.

Dogs with long hair or curly hair need baths more often than dogs with short straight hair. Dirt, dust, and grime easily accumulate on a long-haired or curly-coated dog, plus the hair is prone to matting. If you have a long-haired or curly-coated dog, you should use a brush or comb after bathing your dog to work out any tangles and mats you see.

A short-haired dog needs a bath every two to three months, while one with long or curly hair needs a bath every 6-8 weeks. If your pooch falls somewhere in between and you’re unsure how often to bathe him, ask your vet. Dogs with skin conditions may need to bathe with special products a couple of times a week under veterinarian direction.

dog groomer
Image Credit: Karlin Richardson, Pixabay

Grooming Products You Can Share with Your Dog

Even though you shouldn’t use a human conditioner on your dog, there are a few grooming items you can share with your four-legged friend. You can use any of the following grooming items on your dog without worry.

  • Comb: It’s fine to use a human comb on your dog if you need to. Maybe you lost your dog comb or simply don’t have one. Just be sure the comb has smooth rounded teeth, so you don’t scratch your dog’s skin or rip out his hair.
  • Hair Ties: You can use your hair ties on your pooch if you want to tame his unruly mane. For example, if your dog can’t see because he’s got lots of hair hanging in his face, you can tie his hair up using one of your hair ties.
  • Clippers and Scissors: You can use your hair clippers and scissors on your dog when he needs a trim. Essentially, dog clippers and human hair clippers are the same as hair-cutting scissors. However, many dog scissors on the market have rounded ends for safety so keep that in mind when you need to trim around your dog’s eyes or private parts. These special dog grooming scissors are safer than regular scissors so consider picking up a pair. Always disinfect your clippers and scissors after using them on your pet.
dog grooming
Image Credit: Peakstock, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

While it’s tempting to use your favorite hair conditioner on your dog, you shouldn’t do that. Dogs have different skin and hair than humans. That’s why there are so many dog shampoos and conditioners on the marketplace. Pick up a bottle of dog hair conditioner you can use after bathing your dog to leave his hair silky smooth and smelling fresh!


Featured Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

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