Baby Shampoo For Dogs: Is It Okay?

When it comes to having a canine best friend around the house, life can be a little “ruff” if your four-legged pal decides it's long past time he got into the garbage and rolled around in the mud. And that was likely the day before you had company over for dinner. Or maybe he decided that today was the day that fish guts were the perfect “cologne.”

Time for a bath for Bosco, right?

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It's bath time!Source: shoehorn99, CC-BY, via flickr

Regardless of why your dog needs a bath, you're likely wondering what kind of shampoo to use, especially if you've only recently brought your new animal friend home from the shelter and this is your first time bathing him.

You're likely also asking this because you have run out of dog shampoo, and have heard that baby shampoo works just as well. This article will help you answer if baby shampoo for dogs is OK to use, plus more.

Smelly Dogs

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It's still relatively unclear why dogs seem to not mind being smelly. After all, they are the ones with the sense of smell that is many times sharper than a human. We have a tendency, therefore, to think that if something smells bad to us (including the dog's own natural odor), surely it would smell even worse to a dog.

Wrong. Dogs gather information about their environment through their noses, and if something smells wonderful to them (like garbage tends to do), they will find a way to cover themselves in that smell.

Apparently, that habit doesn't mesh with our concepts of clean-scented living—and bathing–regardless of how much we might understand our dog's habits and how much we might honor Cesar Millan as the “alpha” of dog knowledge.

Besides, our friends also have to deal with our dog just as much as we do. So, as soon as Fido gets friendly with the freshly bagged trash and rips it open, it's time for a soak in the tub. But so far, the question of baby shampoo for dogs has yet to be answered.

Can I Use Baby Shampoo On My Dog?

This is a truly legit question, especially if you love having a dog as a pet, but you're a bit strapped for cash now and again.

The answer to this question is YES, baby shampoo for dogs is OK to use if you don't constantly bathe your dog.

Baby shampoo is formulated for babies' sensitive skin, so if you're out of normal dog shampoo, and need to use a baby shampoo in an absolute pinch, go ahead and grab a bottle of unscented (lightly scented is OK too), clear baby shampoo like Johnson's Natural Baby Shampoo or Aveeno Baby Wash and Shampoo.

How About Regular Human Shampoo On My Dog?

This is a definite no-no, because shampoos for human adults are pH-balanced much differently than dog shampoos are. Human skin pH Levels are around 5.2 to 6.2 which is mildly acidic, while dog's skin pH Levels ranges from 5.5 to 7.5 which is close to neutral pH to being more alkaline.

It's also said that the sulfates in most human shampoos dry out human hair and scalps, so if your regular shampoo does that to your hair, you can imagine what such formulations would do to your best four-legged buddy! So it's better off if you stick with the baby shampoo for dogs, as long as it's clear and unscented or mildly scented.

Here's a Video on How to Give Your Dog a Bathe at Home

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

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Optimally, once a month is just about right, though if you end up bathing your dog more (some dogs just end up being smellier than others by nature, other than the times they tip the garbage over), that's a good reason to stick with dog shampoos.

Also, if you wash a dog too much, you end up stripping away the oils that give your dog's coat that glossy sheen we all love to give “wolf whistles” to, especially on the long-haired dogs.

That said, if you choose to bathe your dog more than once a month (apart from flea problems), go for a soap-free or perhaps a shampoo with a moisturizer in it, just to keep the dog's skin from drying out. And a dog whose skin is dry and itchy from too much bathing is not going to like bath time overall. So, again, once a month is optimal for a doggy cleanup time.

Of course, you may end up washing a dog more often than once a month if there's a flea problem, or if they cannot help pretending they're “Bambi” and want to go nose-to-nose with the smelly striped spraying ones, and then get a muzzle full of skunk juice for all their animal-world “cosplay.”

Overall, Yes! Baby Shampoo for Dogs is A-OK

While regular human shampoo on dogs is a major no-no, baby shampoo is a good substitute because it's less harsh.

But if you need to, or prefer to wash a dog more than once a month (no more than once a week, tops!), it's wise to stick with a dog shampoo that is suitable for your dog's skin. It's pH-balanced for a dog's naturally neutral to alkaline skin, and therefore isn't as harsh as the shampoo that's made for humans.

Jeanne Wagner
Jeanne is a volunteer at a local animal shelter where she gains a huge amount of knowledge working with animals. She has taken care of a wide breed of dogs and cats. She has some really crazy stories to tell for sure. Jeanne currently owns two Siberian Huskies, Jack and Jill. Dogs are her true passion, as she has had one in her life for as long as she can remember. The love of dogs runs in her family as her two sisters and brother each has a dog, and her parents have one as well. Jeanne does not get too much time for hobbies, but she loves to write and to paint. Her dogs are her favorite muse.