Can You Use Normal Shampoo on Dogs?


Have you ever found yourself pondering the question, "Can you use normal shampoo on dogs?" If you've ever been caught without dog shampoo on hand, you might be tempted to reach for what's in your shower instead. However, there's a little more to it than you might think.

Defining the problem

It's a common misconception that what's good for our hair, like a rich, foamy shampoo, is also good for our furry friends. But here's the rub. It could actually do more harm than good. Let's explore why.

Importance of the right shampoo for dogs

Just as you would choose a shampoo based on your hair type or concerns, dogs require the same level of care. Not all shampoos are created equal, and using the wrong type can lead to a host of issues.

Dog’s skin versus human skin

Understanding why we cannot use our shampoo for dogs requires a basic understanding of skin pH levels and how they vary between species.

Understanding the skin pH

Skin pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the skin's surface is. For example, a skin pH level of 7 is neutral — meaning, neither acidic nor alkaline.

Human skin pH

The pH of human skin typically falls between 5.5 and 5.75, making it slightly acidic. This helps to keep harmful microbes at bay and maintain skin health.

Dog skin pH

On the other hand, a dog's skin pH usually ranges from 6.2 to 7.4, which is more neutral. This difference, although seemingly small, is quite significant.

Effects of pH imbalance

Using a product meant for human skin on a dog can disrupt their skin's natural pH balance, leading to increased skin sensitivity, irritation, dryness, and even infections.

Impacts of using human shampoo on Dogs

Now, what happens when you use a regular, human-formulated shampoo on your canine companion?

Immediate effects

Using human shampoo on dogs may initially cause dry, itchy skin, leading to discomfort for your pooch.

When we opt to use human shampoo on dogs, we may unknowingly set our pets on a path towards discomfort. Human shampoos are formulated to cater to the slightly acidic nature of our skin, which, unfortunately, is not the same as our dogs'. As a result, using human shampoo on dogs may disturb their natural skin pH balance, which is slightly more alkaline. This imbalance can cause the skin to become dry and stripped of its essential oils.

Now, imagine the feeling of dry, itchy skin. It's uncomfortable, right? Our dogs feel the same. They may start to scratch excessively, leading to further skin damage. This itching is not only bothersome, but it can also cause considerable distress for your pet. It can disrupt their daily activities, disturb their sleep, and generally cause a significant decrease in their quality of life.

Moreover, constant scratching can lead to abrasions and open wounds, leaving your pet susceptible to bacterial or yeast infections, which can cause even more itching, creating a vicious cycle. So while it may seem convenient to reach for your regular shampoo during your dog's bath time, the subsequent discomfort it can cause your beloved pooch makes it a practice best avoided.

Long-term effects

Long-term use of human shampoo on dogs does more than just cause immediate discomfort. It can potentially pave the way for more severe, chronic skin conditions.

Your dog's skin pH balance, which, as we’ve already discussed, leans towards the more neutral side, is pivotal in maintaining their skin health. However, when this balance is continually disrupted by the use of human shampoo, it can lead to a variety of skin conditions.

Conditions such as dermatitis, characterised by inflammation and extreme itchiness, can become a recurring issue. Similarly, seborrhea, which causes scaly patches and red skin, can also manifest. These conditions are not only uncomfortable for your dog but may require extended veterinary care to rectify.

The imbalance in the skin's pH can also adversely affect your dog's coat, making it appear dull and lifeless. Essential oils naturally present in your dog's fur are stripped away, taking away the shine and softness of their coat.

Furthermore, an unhealthy skin environment could turn your dog into a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal infections. As the natural skin barriers are compromised, harmful microbes get an open invitation to invade and colonise. Infections such as ringworm, a type of fungal infection, or bacterial skin infections (pyoderma), can become a recurrent problem, causing distress to your pet and leading to costly veterinary bills.

The long-term use of human shampoo can have a significant, detrimental impact on your dog's skin health, the quality of their coat, and their overall well-being. It is always best to use products specifically designed to suit your dog's unique skin pH and grooming needs.

Alternatives to normal shampoo for dogs

But fear not, there are alternatives to using human shampoo on your dog.

Vet-Recommended, Natural dog shampoos and grooming products

There are several dog shampoos available on the market that are specifically formulated for dogs' skin and fur type.

For example, at Cooper & Gracie, we offer:

The Natural Dog Grooming and Shampoo range by Cooper and Gracie brings an exclusive selection of dog-care products formulated with your pet's well-being at the core. Our products stand out due to their natural, chemical-free composition, making them gentle yet effective on your dog's skin. Whether it's tackling itchy skin with the C&G Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin or ensuring all-round grooming with the Dog Shampoo and Conditioner, these gentle formulas cater to every need. They not only assure cleanliness but also ensure a shiny, healthy coat and happy skin for your dog.

Proper dog grooming and care

Beyond shampoo, regular grooming and proper care are crucial for your dog's overall health.

Importance of regular grooming

Regular grooming serves a dual purpose - it keeps your dog looking their best and also functions as a health check-up. While it's easy to see the aesthetic side, the health benefits are just as important, if not more so.

When you set a grooming routine, you're doing more than just maintaining your dog's appearance. You're essentially conducting regular, hands-on check-ups on your pet. As you brush through their fur, bathe them, or even trim their nails, you get an opportunity to feel and see any potential abnormalities. This could include skin issues like rashes, dry patches, lumps, or unusual hair loss. Early detection of these signs can lead to timely treatment and potentially prevent minor issues from escalating into serious health concerns.

In addition to this, grooming sessions provide an ideal opportunity to check for parasites like fleas and ticks. These can often be overlooked but can lead to significant discomfort and health issues for your pet.

Finally, regular grooming helps to prevent skin infections. Cleaning and brushing your dog's fur keeps the skin beneath it healthy, preventing the build-up of dirt and oil that can lead to bacterial or yeast infections.

Therefore, regular grooming is an essential part of pet ownership. It not only keeps your dog looking good and feeling comfortable but it also allows you to monitor their health and ensure they stay in the best possible shape.

Tips for effective grooming

Effective grooming is a multifaceted process that goes beyond just the occasional bath. It's a crucial part of pet care that encompasses several different aspects, all of which contribute to the overall health and well-being of your dog.

Firstly, regular brushing of your dog's fur is essential. It helps to remove loose hair, minimising shedding around your home. Additionally, brushing can distribute natural oils from the skin across the coat, promoting a healthy shine. It also offers the chance to check for any skin issues or parasites such as fleas and ticks.

Cleaning your dog's ears is another vital aspect of grooming. Dogs, especially those with floppy ears, are prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning can help prevent the build-up of wax and debris, reducing the risk of such infections. Remember to use a vet-approved ear cleaner and avoid inserting anything into the ear canal to prevent damage.

Lastly, bathing your dog is fundamental, but it's vital to use dog-specific shampoos. These shampoos are formulated to match the natural pH balance of your dog's skin, reducing the risk of dryness, irritation, and itchiness. Furthermore, all of Cooper & Gracie’s dog shampoos contain only natural ingredients that help to keep your dog's coat shiny and healthy.


While it may seem convenient to use regular shampoo on dogs, it's not a practice that's recommended. Dogs have unique needs that human shampoos simply don't cater to, and using these products could lead to potential harm for your furry friend. Always opt for a dog-specific shampoo or a vet-approved alternative to keep your dog's skin healthy and their fur shiny.


  1. Can I use baby shampoo on my dog?
    • While baby shampoos are generally milder than adult ones, they are still not formulated for dogs and may disrupt their skin pH balance. It's best to use products specifically made for dogs.
  2. What can I use if I don't have dog shampoo?
    • If you're in a pinch, homemade solutions with oatmeal, baking soda, or apple cider vinegar can work. But it's always better to use dog-specific shampoos.
  3. How often should I bathe my dog?
    • The frequency depends on your dog's breed, coat, lifestyle, and any skin conditions they might have. As a rule of thumb, a monthly bath is sufficient for most dogs.
  4. What are the signs that a shampoo is not suitable for my dog?
    • Signs may include excessive itching, dryness, redness, rashes, or a dull coat. If you observe any of these, it's time to switch to a different product.
  5. Is it harmful to use human conditioner on dogs?
    • Similar to shampoo, human conditioners can also disrupt a dog's skin pH balance and potentially cause skin irritation.

Natural Dog Shampoo and Conditioners from Cooper & Gracie

Don't compromise on your furry friend's comfort and health. At Cooper and Gracie, we understand your dog's unique grooming needs and have formulated the perfect solution for them. Our range of Natural Dog Grooming and Shampoo products are specifically designed to be gentle on your dog's skin while ensuring a deep clean and shiny coat. For instance, our C&G Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin is an excellent solution for sensitive, itchy skin. It contains no harsh chemicals and is packed with nourishing ingredients. Or perhaps, consider our Dog Shampoo and Conditioner - a complete, all-natural solution for your dog's bath time. Remember, your dog's well-being starts with the right grooming products. Invest in quality, invest in your pet's happiness. Visit Cooper and Gracie today to give your dog the care they deserve.