Most of us want only the best for our canine best friends. We take them with us wherever we go, buy them the highest quality diet we can, and we take them to the vet when they are due for their regular wellness exam each year. 

But what about bathing? And do dogs really need special shampoo? It may seem like this is going just a tad too far. After all, there are plenty of high quality, mild human shampoos that work just fine, don’t they?

Keep reading to find out about dog shampoo, and why it’s important.

Dog Shampoo vs. Human Shampoo

In days gone by, many dog owners used regular soap to clean their dogs. But today, we know more information about a dog’s skin and coat, and what protects their surprisingly sensitive skin.

Dog shampoos are different from human shampoos in a couple of important ways:

pH balance. A dog’s skin has a different pH, or acidity, than a human’s. Human skin is more acidic in pH than a dog’s and as a result even the mildest human shampoo is likely too acidic for your dog’s skin.

Chemical composition. In addition to pH differences, a dog’s skin is also far thinner than a human’s. Human skin has between 10-15 cellular layers, while dog skin only has 3-5 cell layers. Dog skin is much more sensitive, making common detergent based human shampoos too harsh for use in dogs. Dog shampoo will use much gentler chemical components that are just right for a dog’s thin skin. 

What About Baby Shampoo?

Baby shampoo is known to be a mild (and tear free) shampoo. Sounds good for your dog, right?  Wrong. 

The pH of baby skin is still different than dog’s. Bathing dogs in human shampoo, no matter how mild, will change the pH of the dog’s skin and make their skin cells slough off faster than they are supposed to. This increased scaling is often described by dog owners as dandruff. Many dog owners equate this with the dog being dirty, and bathe them more often – exacerbating the problem. 

The Dawn Question

Dawn dishwashing soap has a reputation for being effective because we often hear about it being used for crude oil removal in water birds after oil spills. But there is a big difference between crude oil and the oil and dirt on your dog’s skin. 

Dawn isn’t made for use on dogs, and it’s too harsh for their skin, since it is so much thinner than our own. Dawn can also damage a dog’s sensitive eyes if they shake the soap into their eyes during a bath. 

Dog Shampoo For the Win!

So, what should you use? There are many good, mild, and effective dog shampoos out there. Many are oatmeal based and very gentle. Some are specific for individual conditions, such as dermatitis or allergies. These shampoos are generally very effective at what they are recommended for. 

If you have any questions about dog shampoo in general or would like a recommendation for your individual pet’s needs, please give us a call to schedule an appointment. We also have a full service grooming salon to meet all your pet grooming needs. We’re here to help!