FAQ: Can I use organic shampoo & conditioner to wash my dogs?

One question we get asked a lot is whether you can use your own organic shampoo to wash your dogs. It's not a good idea. Why?

The pH level of dogs vs humans

Just as humans & dogs have different diets, and humans can make their own Vitamin D but dogs can't (and they can make their own Vitamin C), the pH level of human skin and dog skin is different. The optimum pH level of human skin is 5.5, which is on the acidic side. In comparison, the pH level of a dogs skin can be anywhere from 5.5 to 8.6 (there's varying information online and it changes between breeds) but it's generally around the 7.0 on average.

You may think that picking up a bottle of organic shampoo or even a gentle baby shampoo is going to be soft & gentle on your dog's skin, but it's not. A dog's skin is alkaline, and this makes it a potential breeding ground for bacterial skin infections if the pH balance of their skin is disrupted. The outer layer of their skin becomes dry, and while their skin is thicker than ours, the epidermis (top layer) is very thin and easily damaged.

What about essential oils?

Looking past the damage that can be done with disrupting the pH balance on your dogs skin, you'll find that most human shampoos will contain essential oils, whether they're natural or contain synthetic ingredients. Not all essential oils are safe for pets. The list of essential oils that you should keep away from cats and dogs are different, and the toxicity is far worse when you're diffusing essential oils in the air and your pets breathe them in vs the mild lingering aroma from a soap bar.

Common essential oils used in human shampoo that could be harmful to pets include peppermint, thyme and ylang ylang. There are plenty more essential oils on the list that should be kept away from animals, but these are the most common to be found in your own shampoo.

Responsible pet shampoo manufacturers do the research on the pet safe essential oils and ensure bathtime is a happy and safe time.

Can it be done plastic free?

It's really important with giving your dog a bath that you choose a pet shampoo specifically designed for dogs. At Shop Naturally, in the past, we have always stocked a small selection of liquid dog washes. Now, the majority of the range is following the trend of plastic free and they're following the human trend of a shampoo bar - ditching the plastic bottle and using a bar that quite simply looks like a cake of soap. Whether you're using a dog groomer or doing it yourself, once you wet down your pet's fur, simply rub the bar up and down on their damp fur to create your lather.

natural dog shampoo

Ethique have a safely scented dog shampoo, an unscented dog shampoo + a conditioner. We also have a locally made option from No Nasties Home, quality with a budget friendly price tag.

Shop our range of natural dog shampoo.

This blog was originally published in August 2014 and was updated in May 2021

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