Using human shampoo instead of dog shampoo for allergies
When your dog comes home smelling of dead fish, you know that it’s the wrong day to run out of dog shampoo. But what if the dog shampoo bottle is empty to the last drop? What if there’s no time to buy one? Will it be safe to use human shampoo on your dog instead of dog shampoo for their allergies?
If it’s a one-off situation and your dog does not have sensitive skin, then human shampoo will do for the moment. Human baby shampoos are especially mild. They are formulated to keep the natural pH balance of the baby’s skin, which is 6.5-7.0. Dog skins have pH levels of 6.2-7.4, so they’re a near-match.
However, when it comes to dogs with sensitive skin, it’s a totally different story.
There will be many things to consider, not just pH levels. It will be quite irresponsible to use human shampoos, even the gentlest ones, to take the place of dog shampoo for allergies.
Identifying the root cause of your dog’s allergy
Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that it sees as an intruder. Identifying this substance, called an allergen, is the key to treating your dog’s allergy. Your dog’s vet will tell you what tests are needed.
The allergen can be an ingredient in the food (food allergy).
The common culprits are grains and meat, but all food ingredients are suspect.
Your dog can also be allergic to particles in the air, such as pollen, dust mites, and molds (atopic allergy).
If your dog mingles with other pets, check for flea bites.
Dogs may sometimes develop allergies to the saliva of fleas.
This is also true of tick and mite bites (parasite allergy). If this is the case, you will need to address the issue of pest infestation, too.
Another type of allergy is triggered by contact with certain materials or chemicals (contact allergy).
In this type of allergy, things like plastic, fabric, grass, soap, or shampoo can cause the flare-up.
Why finding the right shampoo for your dog is important?
Allergic symptoms usually present as itching. Shampoos are directly applied to the skin and they can do two things – either alleviate or worsen the symptoms. One wrong decision and your dog will suffer. For this reason, dog shampoo for allergic dogs must be chosen with extra care.
What to look for in a dog allergies shampoo
The following features must be considered:
If you have identified the allergen, then avoid shampoos that contain that particular ingredient.
If not, then find shampoos with the least number of ingredients. This way, the chance that it includes the allergen will be so much lower.
Free from artificial colors and fragrances
Pick shampoos that are clear and unscented. Artificial color and fragrance don’t do anything to remove dirt or moisturize skin.
What they do is pose the added risk of triggering an allergy.
Lest you think that only artificial ingredients can cause allergy, you’re wrong. Even natural ingredients can be possible allergens, so be more observant.
Contains hydrocortisone or other medicating ingredients
Find out if the shampoo contains anti-itch medications. Some shampoos contain hydrocortisone or antihistamine.
These compounds reduce inflammation and help ease other allergy symptoms.
If your dog reacts to medicated shampoos and prefers herbal shampoos, find those that contain ginger or rosemary.
Note: Itching and scratching can become uncontrollable and cause excruciating pain. Ask your dog’s vet for an anti-pain medicine. Or you may check your local pet supply shop for over the counter pain meds for dogs.
Skin that’s too dry and flaky gives allergy a good head start. Keep your dog’s skin well hydrated to prevent itching. Find shampoos with natural moisturizers like oatmeal and aloe vera.
Oatmeal cleanses and moisturizes skin, plus it has anti-inflammatory effects. Aloe vera, on the other hand, moisturizes and provides cooling relief.
It has antifungal and antibacterial effects as well.
Formulated to repel fleas and ticks
For allergies caused by the saliva of fleas and ticks, it’s important to find shampoos that have ingredients for repelling these parasites.
Fighting fleas and ticks, though, can’t be the sole job for a shampoo.
You have to get rid of them from all nooks and crannies of your home. The shampoo is just one part of a complete and aggressive battle to get rid of fleas and ticks.
The bottom line
So, to answer the question, yes, you may use human shampoo on your dog but only in one-time situations. And we have to add, adult human shampoos have pH levels of 5.5-5.6, very acidic to be used on dogs. Human baby shampoos will be so much gentler.
For dogs with allergies, however, human shampoos are a big no-no. They must never be used as substitute to dog shampoo.
The reason is simple – they’re not designed for dogs, much less for dogs with allergies.