Can you Use Baby Shampoo On Dogs & Puppies? Is it Safe?

We’ve all been there, you’ve come home from a walk, your pooch has rolled in something obnoxious and stinks to high heaven, but you have run out of dog shampoo, which begs the question. Can you use baby shampoo on dogs?

Find out below but if you have ever wondered what is the best dog shampoo? Now is the time to find out!

In this article, we will examine

  • Can you use baby shampoo instead of dog shampoo?
  • The differences between human shampoo and dog shampoo
  • Why not use human shampoo when washing your pup?
  • How to bath your furry friend
  • The different types of doggy shampoo

The answer is yes; you can wash a dog with baby shampoo but as a last resort.  Baby shampoos are water-based and don’t contain some of the harsh chemicals other shampoos may have. They only contain glycerin, potassium acrylates copolymer, which is used as a thickening agent and sodium trideceth sulfate, a cleansing agent that doesn’t cause irritation.

Baby shampoo also has a Ph level of around 7.0, which is ok for dogs. Meaning it is a safe alternative; however, to keep your dog’s coat in prime condition, it really is best to buy a product designed for the purpose. They may be more expensive, but you will have peace of mind knowing you are looking after your dog’s coat.

The Difference Between Dog Shampoo and Human Shampoos

PH Levels

7.1 -7.4 is the sweet spot for dogs and it’s essential we don’t upset the PH Balance as it can result in problems such as red spots, infections and itching. Most human shampoo has a PH level of around 5-6, which is not suitable for dogs and can cause a host of issues. Baby shampoo is slightly higher, making it a safer alternative, but it still shouldn’t be used on a regular basis.


Dog products contain ingredients specially formulated for their skin and fur. For example, a flea shampoo may contain insecticides to eliminate parasites. They may also contain salicylic acid, colloidal oatmeal, menthol, aloe, essential oils and hydrocortisone, which can relieve itching, allergy symptoms and dry skin.

Then there are the added ingredients such as coconut oil or olive oil to keep their hair glossy. Whilst these may seem similar (apart from the insecticide) to the ones we use, but the blend results in a less acidic formula to the ones we use and that includes baby shampoo.


Human shampoo is usually scented, brightly coloured and creates a lot of foam; these things are achieved by chemicals that may not be safe either for us or our pets. Parabens, for example, are known to be cancerogenic, whilst Cocamidopropyl Betaine, a foam booster that is used in human shampoos, may cause allergies, eczema or other skin irritations.

The Benefits of Using Dog Shampoo

Maintains PH balance

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to use dog products to maintain the proper balance and PH level of your pup’s skin which is much higher than ours.

Keeps Fido Germ Free

Your dog may sleep in your bed; they may play with children or mix with other dogs, so it’s important to keep them germ-free, so they do not pass any bacteria to either humans or other dogs.

Fleas and Ticks

Some shampoos for dogs have ingredients to kill fleas and ticks, which obviously are not found in baby shampoos.

Your Pup will Smell Sweeter.

Most baby shampoos are fragrance-free, but if you go to a dog groomer, you’ll know that many formulated for a dog’s fur have fragrances like baby powder, banana, citrus or coconut, especially useful if they love to roll in fox poo.

Promotes a Healthy Coat

Doggy shampoos have ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, almond oil, aloe vera and vitamin E that moisturise the skin and promote a healthy coat.

Can Help with Allergies

Many dogs suffer from skin conditions and allergies, which regular products used by humans could exacerbate; dog-specific products contain blends of natural ingredients such as oatmeal as that can help soothe sensitive skin.

Improves Dry Skin

A dog’s skin can easily become dry and many dog shampoos are formulated to moisturise your dog’s epidermis as well as keeping them clean and smelling fresh; baby shampoo won’t hydrate your dog.

Fights Infection

Another benefit of using a shampoo for dogs at bath time is that many are antibacterial or antifungal; sometimes both, these can save trips to the vet, unlike bathing your dog with baby shampoo.

Different Types of Shampoo for your pup include:

  • Ones for fleas – These kill or repel parasites
  • Antibacterial – baby shampoo won’t tackle bacterial infections and may make them worse.
  • Antifungal – Bathing your pup regular with these products will prevent yeast infections and ringworm.
  • Deodourising – Perfect for pooches who like to roll in smelly things
  • Whitening – Ideal for brightening the coats of white breeds
  • Detangling – Make grooming your dog easier with a detangling shampoo
  • Ones for dry skin – These will keep Fido’s body hydrated and help get rid of dandruff
  • Hypoallergenic – Especially formulated if your dog suffers from allergies

Why Human Shampoo is a No-No for Dogs

Human products have a lower PH than a dog shampoo and tend to be on the acidic side, so they can upset the PH levels in your dog’s skin; if used regularly, they can harm the acid mantle making your pooch vulnerable to parasites and infections. Even though the baby shampoo is milder, it should still only be used as a last resort.

The Acid Mantle

Too much washing strips your dog’s skin of its acid mantle, a thin layer protecting the stratum corneum, which is responsible for reducing evaporation and keeping Fido hydrated; most dog shampoos are formulated to moisturise and protect the stratum corneum until the acid mantle renews itself.

We Have Thicker Skin

The reason regular human shampoo is so harsh is not just down to its acidity either. Our skin is 3 times thicker than our canine companions, so even a mild shampoo with no harsh chemicals can irritate your dog’s skin and cause redness and sores, which no dog owners want.

Bathing your Dog 101

This great video by Animalogy shows you how to bathe your dog easily and this guide shows you how to create homemade dog shampoo.

What Shampoo to Use if Your Dog Has Sensitive Skin

There are countless options if you want a dog shampoo for sensitive skin; you may think a baby shampoo is gentle but used regularly, it may still harm your dogs skin. It’s always best to buy shampoo, especially for delicate canine skins.


Is Johnson baby shampoo safe for dogs?

It’s perfectly fine to use baby shampoo as a one-off, but using human shampoo on dogs can lead to problems in the long term. If you do use human shampoo, make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all traces.

Can you wash a dog with Fairy Liquid?

Dish soaps and detergents are made to cut through grease on pots and pans, so they are not really suited to a dog’s body. That been said, many homemade doggy shampoos include a small amount of baby shampoo or dish detergent; however, it’s not something we recommend

What’s the best shampoo for my dog’s itchy skin?

For itchy skin, a shampoo that contains something like aloe vera or oatmeal is best; we love the Cooper and Gracie range. If you need advice for dogs losing hair, see this in-depth guide.

Can you use head and shoulders on dogs?

While Head and Shoulders can be be used on the odd occasion and shouldn’t harm your dog, its always best to use a product designed for canine use human shampoos can dry out a dog’s skin and cause irratation. 

Is Dry Shampoo same as Baby Shampoo

Dry dog shampoo and baby shampoo are completely different and you can find which is the best dry shampoo for dogs in this thorough guide.

Can I Make Shampoo for My Dog

Making shampoo is an option as long as you have the right ingredients and steps. Luckily for you, we have an article on how to make dog shampoo at home which guides you through the process.


Baby shampoo is a safe alternative if you need to bathe Fido and have no dog shampoo in the cupboard. It’s mild compared to many human shampoos; it has a low irritation cleansing agent, which should do the job without causing any damage.

Regular shampoo is no substitute for puppy alternatives; they destroy the acid mantle, which can lead to all sorts of viruses and infections. Your furry friend will start to scratch, which in turn will open abrasions for bacteria to feed on. You will also notice an unpleasant odour from the bacteria; as a result, making you wash them more, which in turn creates a vicious circle.

As with anything relating to your pup’s health, always consult your vet if you are unsure.

Donna Hepburn

Published author, content writer and qualified dog behaviourist I have owned dogs all my life from Boxers, Rottweilers and Akitas, to Staffies and currently a very demanding Frenchie who is harder work than all the others put together.

I had a collar making business for over 10 years and am involved with several doggy charities. I currently live in the northeast and when I am not writing about dogs I enjoy, travelling, cooking and reading.

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