Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs & Cats?

Here’s what you need to know about the differences between shampoo formulated for pawrents and their furbabies.

When it comes to maintaining the well-being of our beloved pets, every responsible pet owner knows that the choices we make in their care can greatly impact their health and happiness. While we might cherish the idea of sharing our favorite shampoo brand with our furry friends during bath time, is this seemingly convenient option really in the best interest of our pets? 

Your shampoo may leave your hair smooth and silky, but using human shampoo on your dog or cat could potentially lead to skin irritation or long-term harm, especially if your pet suffers from sensitive or itchy skin problems.

Why should you not use human shampoo on your pets?

It’s a well-established rule among pet experts: avoid using human shampoo on your pets. You see, there are fundamental differences between human skin and our pets’ skin that make this practice less than ideal. For starters, dogs and cats have thinner skin and have a distinct pH level that sets them apart from us.

3 ways human shampoo can be too harsh for your pets’ skin to handle, causing them permanent damage over time.

1. Pets have a thinner layer of skin compared to humans.

Pets have a distinct skin composition that sets them apart from humans, and this differentiation has significant implications for their grooming routine. One of the key differences is the thickness of their skin. In comparison to humans, your pets’ skin is typically comprised of only 3 to 5 layers of skin cells, while we have a thicker and more robust epidermal layer made up of 10 to 15 layers of skin cells.

MEDIKURIN PettoGard Pet skin vs Human skin

Obviously, this means our pets’ skin is more sensitive and prone to damage compared to ours. As a result, it becomes imperative to use specially formulated pet shampoos that take into account their delicate skin nature.

2. Pets’ skin has different pH levels compared to humans.

Our human skin typically maintains a mildly acidic pH level, ranging from 5.5 to 5.6. Meanwhile, dogs and cats have a more pH-neutral skin, fluctuating between 6.2 to 7.4. The topmost layer of skin, known as the epidermis, is protected by a delicate barrier known as the acid mantle – which is a thin layer that acts as a shield, guarding the skin against external contaminants and preventing it from drying out. 

When we use human shampoo on our pets, this protective acid mantle can be disrupted and washed away, leaving their skin vulnerable. On the other hand, specialized pet shampoos are formulated with ingredients that both moisturize and safeguard their skin until the acid mantle naturally renews itself. Without this protection, our pets can experience dryness and discomfort from using acidic human shampoos..

3. Human shampoos are formulated differently compared to pet shampoos.

Human shampoos are designed for cleaning and conditioning human hair, which is vastly different from pet fur. On top of having a more acidic pH, human shampoos often contain chemicals that can lead to skin irritation and allergies in cats and dogs. These ingredients also pose a risk of toxicity if ingested in large amounts accidentally.

MEDIKURIN PettoGard How Human Shampoo is Different From Pet Shampoo

In contrast, pet shampoos are specially formulated with ingredients that cater to the specific needs of our furry friends, focusing on their unique skin and coat requirements.

How does human shampoo affect pets’ skin?

The use of human shampoo on pets can have subtle yet long-term adverse effects on their skin. Although immediate symptoms may not be apparent, prolonged exposure to human shampoo can potentially harm your pets’ overall health and well-being.

Some ingredients that are used in a large quantity has been shown to affect pet’s skin

MEDIKURIN PettoGard Side Effect Of Using Human Shampoo on Pets

Effects of using human shampoo on your pets

  • Your pets may experience skin inflammation and dryness, leading to itchiness, constant scratching and biting, further exacerbating skin conditions.
  • Prolonged use of human shampoo can increase shedding in pets due to skin dryness.
  • Human shampoo can strip essential oils from pets’ skin, which act as a natural protective barrier against viruses and bacteria, making them more susceptible to infections.
  • Repeated use of human shampoo can result in even more sebum production, leading to unpleasant odors on pets’ skin and fur.
  • Human shampoo contains ingredients that, if ingested, can be harmful to pets’ organs, potentially causing kidney and liver damage. These harmful ingredients include parabens, sulfates (such as ammonium laureth sulfate), isopropyl alcohol, coal tar, and certain preservatives.

“What if I use a pH-neutral human shampoo on my pets?”

Even if you’re considering a pH-neutral human shampoo for your pets, it’s generally not recommended. While there are numerous human shampoos claiming to be pH-neutral, designed to match the pH levels of human skin, it’s essential to question whether this aligns with the specific requirements of our pets’ skin.

PettoGard® Foam Shampoo: Formulated specially for pets’ skin problems

When it comes to the well-being of our furry companions, choosing the right grooming products is paramount. Instead of resorting to using your own shampoo out of convenience, consider using shampoo formulated for pets like PettoGard® Hypoallergenic Foam Shampoo for Dogs & Cats. 

Tailored especially for your dogs and cats, this pet shampoo goes beyond standard cleansing. PettoGard® Hypoallergenic Foam Shampoo for Dogs & Cats is an instant foaming shampoo made for deeper cleaning and easy rinsing to make your pets’ bath time faster and easier. Developed with a triple-action formula that moisturizes, soothes, and repairs damaged skin, the shampoo creates a stronger foundation for healthier skin and a beautiful coat. 

PettoGard® Hypoallergenic Foam Shampoo for Dogs & Cats comes in formulations ideal for pets with itchiness, dry skin, or flea and tick problems. 


All in all, the decision to use human shampoo on our beloved pets should be approached with caution and consideration. The differences in pH levels, ingredients, and specific needs of pet skin versus human skin make it clear that human shampoos can lead to a range of side effects, including skin inflammation, dryness, and increased shedding on your beloved fur babies. Therefore, when it comes to grooming your pets, it’s crucial to opt for specially formulated pet shampoos, which address your pets’ unique skin problems, promote their overall health, and ensure a happier and healthier life for your furry companions.

Looking to create a healthy and happy pet? Browse through our products page to learn more about what we have to offer.