Can Dog Shampoo Be Used on Humans?

Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Veterinarian Dr. Liza Cahn (DVM)


Although it may seem strange, there are some scenarios in which someone would consider using dog shampoo on themselves. It might be an innocent bit of curiosity or result from an emergency where dog shampoo is your only viable option.

If you’ve been wondering, can dog shampoo be used on humans?

can dog shampoo be used on humans
Can dog shampoo be used on humans?

Here is the answer.

Can I Use Dog Shampoo?

It is generally not advisable to use dog shampoo on human hair, but there are some notable exceptions to this rule. Before using a shampoo, you must thoroughly examine the kind of hair and skin the shampoo is made for. That will help you avoid any significant complications.

shampoo bottle
Getting shampoo in an orange bottle.

In a pinch, using dog shampoo on human hair will probably not be harmful, but it should not be used consistently or on a regular basis. Here are some explanations for why humans shouldn’t use dog shampoo.

pH Levels

Dog shampoo has a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. That’s because dogs’ skin is less acidic than human skin. Dog skin falls in the middle of the spectrum, while human skin is around 5.5. Thus, dog shampoos are made to be gentle enough for canine coats while maintaining the appropriate pH balance.

This may not appear a big deal, but it may make your shower experience unpleasant. Because the human body must maintain its optimal pH level for proper functioning, it is essential to only utilize shampoos with carefully calibrated pH levels made for humans.

Using the wrong product could disrupt your body’s natural pH balance, leaving your skin vulnerable to dandruff, dryness, irritation and infections and your hair brittle and dull.

Skin Thickness

Human shampoo is made to clean thicker skin effectively. Dog skin is approximately one-third of human skin thickness. Dogs also have more hair follicles and faster cell turnover, making them more sensitive. Therefore human products might be too harsh for dogs (and vice versa).

Pyrethrin Dangers

Many flea treatments use pyrethrins, a natural insecticide made from chrysanthemum flowers. Utilizing dog flea shampoo can be extremely risky for humans due to the presence of pyrethrins and its artificial version (which is more potent and longer-lasting), pyrethroids.

Though they’re natural substances, and safe to use on dogs as directed, they’re exceedingly hazardous to one’s health if you ingest them. They are also highly toxic to cats. Before applying dog flea shampoo on yourself, ensure you understand what’s in it and keep it out of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Doing that prevents vomiting, convulsions, and even death from overdosing. However, it’s important to note that these severe effects are rare and usually associated with significant overexposure or misuse.

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Why Would Someone Want To Use Dog Shampoo?

Strangely, some individuals discover that products meant for dogs make excellent substitutes for the items they usually use to meet their particular requirements. Here are several reasons why people use dog shampoos.

different shampoos
Different shampoos to choose from for dog fleas.


Some human hair care products contain various synthetic components or strong fragrances. There aren’t always many options for those who acquire severe sensitivities to these ingredients.

In contrast, dog products are readily available at any pet grooming establishment and may be tempting to use. However, the pH issue still exists. It’s best to consult your doctor or dermatologist for a shampoo recommendation.

Fleas, Ticks, and Lice

While many people consider fleas, ticks, or lice to be a problem only for dogs, there are specific individuals whose jobs or lifestyles may expose them to these pests. Landscapers, farmers, and hunters are likely to pick up a tick because of their close contact with the environment.

Ticks can pose a significant threat since they spread infections such as Lyme disease and other blood-borne viruses. Due to their ability to conceal themselves in your hair or skin folds, they are notoriously difficult to detect.

Given the lack of pest-repellent treatments for human use, some individuals feel more comfortable using dog shampoo after a day in the yard or outdoors. However, these products are not formulated for human skin and could cause irritation or other issues. It’s more appropriate to use products designed for humans for this purpose.

So, Is Dog Shampoo Safe for Humans?

It’s not good for your scalp to use dog shampoo frequently. Nevertheless, infrequent or one-time use may not have serious repercussions. Still, it’s always best to err on caution.

hair wash
Woman washing her hair with shampoo to remove dog fleas.

Talk to your doctor first if you’re thinking about trying out new products. What is safe for some may be harmful to others because of individual differences.

One the other hand, if you’re considering using human shampoo on your dog, it’s best to think again. Using human shampoo on dogs is generally not advised due to differences in skin pH, sensitivity, and coat requirements. Additionally, human shampoos contain detergents and chemicals that may be too harsh for a dog’s more sensitive skin, potentially stripping natural oils and causing imbalances. Dogs also have unique coat care needs based on their breed, which human shampoos don’t address.

What Is the Difference Between Human Shampoo and Dog Shampoo?

Dog shampoo is more effective on dogs than on humans. If used by humans, dog shampoo causes dryness and itchiness among other issues. The shampoos have different pH levels and ingredients that are tailored to a specific species.

human and dog shampoos
The human and dog shampoos are designed to meet each consumer’s needs!

Is Dog Shampoo Better Than Human?

It is certainly better for dogs! It’s advisable only to use dog shampoo on your pet and only human shampoo on yourself.

Can I Use Oatmeal Dog Shampoo on My Hair?

Oatmeal dog shampoo is a gentle option that effectively removes dirt and sweat. However, due to the reasons mentioned above, don’t use this shampoo frequently.

choose a dog shampoo
Choosing the right shampoo is essential for your dog’s healthy-looking coat.

What Happens if I Use Dog Shampoo on My Hair?

Side effects of using dog shampoo might include dandruff, irritation, dryness, dull/brittle hair, and fungal or bacterial infection.

Final Thoughts

Can dog shampoo be used on humans? Dog shampoo is mainly designed for use on fur and not hair. While it may be used in a pinch, it is not recommended for frequent use. We hope we have sufficiently answered the question, can dog shampoo be used on humans?