Differences Between Dog Shampoos & Human Shampoos

by Vivian Gomez, Demand Media
    Shampoos formulated for dogs and those formulated for people are not interchangeable.

    Shampoos formulated for dogs and those formulated for people are not interchangeable.

    Shampoos are designed to clean specific types of hair and scalps. Dogs have different hair types and skin from us. Our shampoo is not formulated for our four-legged friends. With some very rare exceptions, you should avoid using shampoo made for people on your pooch, because it’s too harsh on his skin and can cause a whole slew of skin issues.

    Ingredients Matter

    Dog shampoos have ingredients formulated especially for their skin and coats. For example, flea and tick shampoos contain insecticides to help eliminate or control these pests. Dog shampoos also contain salicylic acid, menthol, colloidal oatmeal, aloe or hydrocortisone. These ingredients relieve itching and other skin allergy symptoms. Dog shampoos also often contain lactic acid and glycerin, which help them with dry and sensitive skin, as well as almond or coconut oil to help keep coats shiny. Even the best shampoo formulated for people lacks these ingredients, which are vital to keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Prolonged use of “people” shampoo ultimately will harm your dog, even if the shampoo doesn't already contain chemicals that will harm your dog.

    pH Balanced for a Human

    A dog’s skin has a pH balance of 7.5, versus our skin, which has a pH balance of 5.5. It may not seem like much of a difference, but our shampoo simply is not designed to deal with a dog’s more alkaline skin. Even a high-quality shampoo formulated for people will not have a pH balance of between 6.5 and 7.5, which is what your pooch needs, and therefore will irritate his skin. Cheaper “people” shampoos also are very acidic and prolonged use of such shampoos on your furball will strip his coat of essential oils, which will dry out his skin and dull his coat.

    A Matter of Thick Skin

    The reason shampoo formulated for people is so harsh on your dog literally is a matter of thick skin. People have skin that is three times thicker than a dog’s skin, which means that, compared to people, dogs have extremely sensitive skin. Even if you use a shampoo designed for people with sensitive skin, the difference in thickness is so great that it still will be harsh on your dog’s skin.

    Different Types of Dog Shampoos

    “People” shampoos are designed for people with color-treated hair, dry hair, normal hair and oily hair, and some contain tea tree oil and menthol to treat dry scalp and dandruff. People have different types of shampoos to deal with different types of hair and scalp issues. In the same manner, therefore, not all dog shampoos are created equal. Those with insecticides treat flea and tick infestations. Medicated shampoos are formulated for pooches who suffer from skin allergies. Oatmeal shampoos treat dogs with dry and sensitive skin. While using a “people” shampoo on your dog once or twice if you run out of doggie shampoo is not likely to cause harm, it is important to stick with shampoos made especially for your pooch.

    About the Author

    Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.

    Photo Credits

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