Bathing is an essential routine for any pet. A good shampoo will keep your dog’s skin and coat free of dirt and unpleasant parasites away.
AKC recommends choosing a shampoo that is made particularly for your pet’s coat. Such a shampoo will keep the dog clean while maintaining the beauty of its fur.
But what can you do if you have a washing emergency and all you have at hand is cat shampoo? It is understandable to wonder, can I use cat shampoo on a dog? Is it safe to do so? Let us dive into the article to find some answers.
Why Do Dogs Need Shampoo?
Dogs like rolling around on the ground, chasing scents, and swimming on the beach. So a dirty coat or stinky paws will not bother them.
An unkempt and unhygienic dog is an open invitation to allergens and parasites. They can latch on to the dog’s skin or get absorbed, leading to skin concerns and infections. Thus, bathing with a good dog shampoo is a necessary routine you must develop.
This routine can keep the dog’s skin clean, remove dead skin cells and hair, and reduce shedding. If you want to maintain the luscious coat of your dog, bathing and regular brushing would be the way to go.
The type of shampoo and frequency of baths depends on the dog’s coat. For example, single-coated dog breeds like Boston Terriers, Greyhounds, Maltese, Dalmatians, and Jack Russell Terriers, among others, can benefit from a gentle shampoo and less frequent baths.
On the other hand, double-coated dog breeds like Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Pomeranians, among others, would need a stronger shampoo that will get through their long and dense coat.
What Do Cat Shampoos Contain?
Cat shampoos typically contain ingredients that are gentle for their skin. A cat’s skin can be sensitive compared to a dog’s skin. When it comes to fur, cats have finer hair than dogs. Their hair also tends to be shorter and can bend easily.
When selecting a cleaning product, you need to consider the skin’s pH level. For example, humans have a skin pH level of around 5.5 to 5.6. Cats and dogs have similar pH level that ranges from 6.2 to 7.2.
It is necessary that you maintain the skin’s pH level in your pets. Dogs have a layer on the skin called the acid mantle. Its job is to absorb moisture, reduce evaporation, keep bacteria away and protect the topmost layer of the skin.
When you bathe the pet, the acid mantle can temporarily disrupt, leaving the topmost layer of the skin exposed and dry. Thus, pet shampoos have moisturizing properties that hydrate the skin until the acid mantle is at its full capacity.
So, you should pick a shampoo that has been made for a particular skin type.
Can I Use Cat Shampoo on a Dog?
As we have seen above, cats and dogs have a similar pH skin level, and cat shampoos are gentler, so yes, technically, you can use cat shampoo on a dog.
If you need to bathe your dog or it is an emergency situation, and with only cat shampoo at your disposal, you can use it once in a while. But, do not specifically buy cat shampoo for your dog.
You might think a gentle shampoo may be better for the dog. However, that is not true. A gentle cat shampoo may not be able to get the dirt off your dog entirely. As a result, you may end up scrubbing more than necessary to clean the dog’s skin and coat.
If your dog has sensitive skin, there are dog shampoos available there that will be gentle while being effective at their job. However, if your dog already has irritated or itchy skin, it would be best to stick to a product that has been specifically formulated for the condition and animal.
So, to summarize, you can use cat shampoo on your dog occasionally. It would be a better option than using plain water.
Read More: Can Humans Use Dog Shampoo
What Happens When I Use Cat Shampoo on a Dog?
If you have used cat shampoo on your dog once or twice, it is unlikely that you will notice a difference. It is a cleaning agent at the end of the day, so it will do its job. But the degree of effectiveness might differ.
For example, as the cat shampoos are gentler, they might not give you the deep clean effect you are looking for. If the dog is small and single-coated, the shampoo might work fine.
But, if the dog is dirty or double-coated, the shampoo may not clean the dog well. In addition, the shampoo might have difficulty getting through the dense coat of the dog and reaching the skin.
For this reason, you will use more quantity of shampoo than instructed on the bottle. Or else the dog will still be dirty in bits and parts even after a bathing session.
So, if you see, you will go through a bottle of cat shampoo much quicker than dog shampoo. So, in the long run, a cat shampoo for a dog would be expensive while not offering the same degree of effectiveness.
Can I Use Cat Flea Shampoo on a Dog?
If you want to rid your dog of fleas, it is best to use vet-approved flea shampoos and medications. These products are made considering the dog’s skin and the insect it needs to kill. A dog flea shampoo should never be used on cats, as the ingredients can cause a severe reaction and even be fatal.
As the cat’s skin is sensitive, the ingredients in the flea shampoo will be gentler. So, they might not effectively rid the dog of fleas.
Technically, yes, you can use cat flea shampoo on a dog. It is safe to do so. But know that it will not give you the desired result.
If it is an emergency, and you want to provide the dog with some relief, then go ahead with the cat shampoo. It will, though, require dog-appropriate follow-up treatment.
Can Dogs be Allergic to Cat Shampoo?
Dogs can be allergic to cat shampoos or even dog shampoos in general. The cause is the presence of certain irritants and allergens in the ingredient list.
Some dogs can show an immediate reaction or may develop symptoms over multiple and repeated use. The symptoms of shampoo allergy in dogs are:
- Extreme dryness
- Face rubbing
- Skin lesions
- Excessive licking
Some shampoo ingredients that can act as allergens for dogs are:
- Artificial fragrances
- Cetyl alcohol
- Glyceryl stearate
- Cocamide DEA/MEA/MIPA
It would help if you went through the ingredient list of products marketed as natural. They might contain minerals and other essential oils, which can be irritating or toxic for dogs.
For example, shampoos that contain oils like peppermint, eucalyptus cinnamon, tea tree, sweet birch, wintergreen, and citrus, among others, can be harmful to dogs when used repeatedly in large quantities.
If shampoo is the only change you have made in your dog’s lifestyle and routine, then the symptoms can be attributed to the cleansing product used. If you see an immediate reaction, rinse the area with cool water and do not use the product again.
In the case of severe symptoms, a ride to the vet’s clinic will be required. Depending on the signs, the vet may prescribe topicals or medications.
Can I Use Human Shampoo on a Dog?
As mentioned above, you know the importance of maintaining your dog’s skin pH level. In humans, the sin pH level is on the lower and acidic side. Humans have multiple layers of skin cells, around 10 to 15.
A dog’s skin pH level ranges on the neutral side. Compared to humans, dogs only have 3 to 5 layers of skin cells. So, a dog’s skin is much more sensitive than a human’s.
If you continuously use human shampoo on a dog, it can leave the animal’s skin dry. The chemicals in the shampoo can disrupt the skin’s pH level. As a result, it could irritate the pet’s skin, strip off natural protective oils and lead to itching. In addition, it will leave the dog’s skin vulnerable to bacteria and parasites.
So, the answer is no. Avoid using your own shampoo on the dog. Using human cleansing and skin care products on dogs can lead to severe skin issues in the future.
What Can I Do When I Have a Dog Washing Emergency?
Your dog has had a field day rolling around in sand or mud. A bath is the only way you can get the dog clean. Or it may start scratching itself or stink up the whole house. But, you are out of dog shampoo, and you cannot let the pet sleep dirty. What do you do in this situation?
You can use cat or even human shampoo in such emergencies. Using these shampoos once in a blue moon is fine. Do a thorough rinse afterward to ensure there is no residue shampoo leftover on the skin or on the coat.
Stock on dog grooming products the same way you stock up on groceries and other household items. This way, you are prepared for scenarios when the dog needs an emergency wash.
How to Pick the Right Dog Shampoo?
When choosing a shampoo, consider your dog’s size, skin, and coat. According to AKC, the three important points to remember when shampoo shopping are:
- Opt for shampoos with natural ingredients.
- Look for soap-free shampoos that will hydrate the skin rather sucking out all moisture.
- Purchase quality ‘made in USA’ dog shampoos.
Stay away from shampoos that include parabens, sulfates, phenol, formaldehyde, and other preservatives. Fragrant products just smell good, but they do not benefit the pet skin in any way. On the contrary, these ingredients can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
If your dog has a specific skin ailment, choose a shampoo accordingly. For example, gentle oatmeal shampoos are available that work well for dogs with sensitive skin. Likewise, if your dog has a thick coat, then there are shampoos formulated specifically for such breeds. If in doubt, consult with your vet.
Can I Use Homemade Dog Shampoos?
If you are looking for a safe dog grooming product or trying to save money, easy DIY shampoo recipes are available. The natural and easy-to-find ingredients can clean your pet, maintain the skin’s pH level and leave the dog smelling great.
You can prepare different types of dog shampoos using a simple ingredient like non-toxic dish soap. Dish soap can get through the dog’s dense coat and remove stubborn dirt. You can mix ¼ cup of non-toxic dish soap, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 2 cups of water. And there, you have an inexpensive and effective dog shampoo.
Another shampoo that works well, even for sensitive skin, is the oatmeal shampoo. First, use a blender or a coffee grinder to get the oats to a flour-like consistency. Then mix 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal and ½ cup baking soda with 1 quart of water.
Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties. It can moisturize the dog’s skin and improve the skin barrier. Baking soda can remove odors, and soothe irritated, itchy skin.
Read More: Can You Wash A Dog With Dish Soap?
Can I use cat shampoo on a dog? Yes, you can do this. But will the shampoo be effective? The answer depends.
As a cat’s skin is more sensitive than a dog’s, its shampoo will have subtle and gentler ingredients. A cat shampoo might do the job if your dog does not need frequent baths or is single-coated.
On the other hand, if the dog is particularly dirty or has a thick, dense coat, a cat shampoo may seem ineffective. You may have to use more shampoo than the recommended usage instructions and still be left with a not-so-clean dog.
So, technically you can use the cat shampoo on the dog if it is an emergency washing situation. But in general, it is best to use dog shampoos for dogs.