Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Human Hair? (Revealed)

It’s a well-known fact that you cannot use human shampoo on dogs. But can you use dog shampoo on human hair?

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Human Hair

Whilst you technically can use dog shampoo on human hair, it is absolutely not recommended. Your dog’s skin and your own have different properties, which means that your shampoo is formulated differently. Using dog shampoo might cause irritation or allergies.

Dog Shampoo Vs. Human Shampoo

The skin and hair of humans actually have a much higher pH balance than that of dogs.

Our normal levels are between 5.5. to 5.7, whereas the normal pH balance for a dog can be anywhere from 6.2 to 7.4.

Their normal level of pH is, therefore, more alkaline than ours, and ours is more acidic.

Critically, we also both have what’s called an acid mantle.

Before you worry about that, it’s actually completely normal to have an acid mantle.

It’s made up of mostly sebum, and acts as a protectant and barrier, preventing both viruses and bacteria from entering our inner systems.

Similarly, your acid mantle preserves the structure of your skin. Having a healthy acid mantle is essential to your skin’s overall health.

The integrity and balance of your acid mantle can be compromised by using harsh cleansers or exfoliants, amongst other factors.

Shampoo for dogs is more likely to include cleansing products that might disrupt your acid mantle, leading to redness, irritation, and sensitivities.

As such, the main difference between a dog and human shampoo is as follows:

Dog shampoo

This will be more alkaline in pH than human shampoo, as a result of the fact that their skin’s pH level is more neutral.

Human shampoo

Our skin is more acidic than that of dogs, and our shampoo is also more acidic, in order to maintain and restore our acid mantle.

Using a dog shampoo on a human, or vice versa, is therefore not ideal, as it will cause disruption to the acid mantle, which can lead to major sensitivity issues.

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Human Hair?

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Human Hair

The short answer is that we would not advise using dog shampoo on human hair. Even if you are really pressed, we’d recommend ensuring that you’ve always got some dry shampoo on hand instead.

That way, even when you run out of normal shampoo, there’s something to tide you over in the meantime.

The only dog shampoo that we’d ever consider saying can be used on human hair is dog shampoo that contains oatmeal.

Oatmeal is added to many skincare brands in order to help with eczema and other skin conditions, as it helps to gently cleanse without stripping skin of its natural oils.

Some shampoo for pooches will include oatmeal – particularly if they’re formulated for four-legged friends who are prone to itchiness or sensitivities.

Oatmeal shampoo may also contain phenols and avenanthramide, which is what helps to reduce the itching.

It’s possible to make your own oatmeal shampoo for both yourself and your pooch by mixing blended oatmeal with a cup of baking soda.

Is Dog Shampoo Safe For Humans?

As detailed above, we would not recommend using dog shampoo on humans.

If there’s a product that’s been formulated with dogs in mind, it won’t be balanced for humans, and may therefore cause irritation.

Reasons To Not Use Dog Shampoo On Your Hair

1.    You may absorb toxicity

Remember that many dog shampoos are designed to help with the management of fleas and ticks.

In order to keep these pests at bay, they can have very aggressive chemicals in them.

If you expose your skin and hair to these by using dog shampoo, you’re exposing yourself to serious toxins, which may absorb into your body.

This is absolutely best avoided.

2.     It will disrupt your pH balance

Dogs require a shampoo with a neutral pH level because of the more alkaline pH levels on their skin and hair.

Using dog shampoo on human hair and skin might be fine the first time, but it certainly won’t do any good if you use it more than once.

You may notice greater areas of sensitivity on your scalp or irritation.

At worse, this may result in bacterial infection, as the acid mantle has been compromised and made more vulnerable to infection as a result.

3.     Dryness

Even if you manage to use dog shampoo without disrupting your pH level or destroying your acid mantle, your hair and scalp will undoubtedly become drier.

Your hair will look lifeless and stripped of moisture – particularly if the shampoo contains major chemicals – and you may even experience split ends or serious breakage.

Can You Use Dog’s Anti-Flea Shampoo To Get Rid Of Lice?

Can You Use Dog’s Anti-Flea Shampoo To Get Rid Of Lice

Yes, dog shampoo can be specifically designed to get rid of lice, ticks, and fleas.

It’s for this reason that you might hear rumors that dog shampoo can be used on kids’ hair if it becomes infested with lice. We would recommend avoiding this.

Dog shampoo will contain serious toxins, chemicals, and insecticides in order to manage these pests.

Using this on little children who are growing is a bad idea. By compromising their acid mantle, you’re exposing them to infection by things far more sinister than either lice or ticks.

Your little one might end up scratching itchy scabs and inviting infections that require antibiotics in order to manage.

They will likely also experience allergic reactions or irritations like rashes as a result of having had anti-flea dog shampoo applied to their hair and scalp.

Any dog shampoo that contains pyrethrins should be avoided. This is a pesticide that is applied because it’s highly toxic to insects.

At the least, these can seriously irritate your skin and may cause burns and scratches.

Otherwise, known side effects include irritation of the respiratory tract, blurred vision, trouble breathing, nausea, and seizures.

Pyrethrins can be used in dog shampoo. They are naturally derived from chrysanthemum flowers, but they are nonetheless seriously toxic to humans.

You need to be sure that neither your skin nor eyes are over-exposed to them.

If you’re using dog shampoo, it’s possible that the shampoo may get in the eyes, and it will certainly sit on the skin. It’s therefore sensible to avoid using dog shampoo entirely.

If you’re looking for natural ingredients by which to manage lice, you can use a combination of essential oils including peppermint, cedarwood, tea tree, cinnamon, rosemary, and citrus.

Remember to always use a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba if you’re planning to directly apply these to either your skin or hair.

Can You Use Human Shampoo On Your Dog?

Can You Use Human Shampoo On Your Dog

Just as you can’t use dog shampoo on humans, you can’t use human shampoo on dogs.

Haircare designed for humans is more acidic than any shampoo designed for dogs. Even if it’s baby shampoo, it’s still too harsh for dogs.

Human shampoo may well cause distress to your four-legged friends in the following way:

1.     Disrupting the acid mantle

Remember how we mentioned the acid mantle?

If you use human shampoo on dogs, because of the lower pH balance, it will seriously disrupt the acid mantle in a way that’s highly irritant to dogs.

They may therefore be more vulnerable to skin sensitivities, but it might also have more serious side effects. Your acid mantle – and your dog’s!

 It is there to protect against viral and bacterial infection. It’s designed as a barrier between you/your dog and your surrounding environment.

A dog with a disrupted acid mantle may therefore contract parasites, be more easily bitten by fleas or ticks, or experience skin issues.

2.     Dry skin

Even if your dog’s acid mantle survives being shampooed with human shampoo, you’ll undoubtedly be dehydrating it.

As a result, your dog may itch and scratch more than normal. This risks further infection if any bacteria get into an open wound.

3.     Can be deadly

Human shampoo can be deadly for our four-legged friends. If you’re a pooch owner, you’ll likely know that your dog can’t eat substances like chocolate or grapes.

The same applies to certain topical substances, such as tea tree oil, which may irritate them. Haircare products contain so many different ingredients.

Unless you know exactly what they are, and whether or not they’re toxic to dogs, it’s really best to use a product formulated specifically for dogs.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Alice Carlill

Alice is an experienced writer and researcher with a background in the Creative Arts. She is a published poet and is currently completing her Ph.D., having worked in a variety of industries, including as a theatre dramaturg. Alice is passionate about the environment, so is always on the lookout for the best zero-waste products that are vegan and cruelty-free.