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You may have noticed some dry, flakey skin hiding underneath your dog’s coat. When humans have that problem, we usually reach for some specialized dandruff shampoo to solve the problem.
But can the same thing work for your dog and is it safe to use human dandruff shampoo on your dog?
Using something like Head & Shoulders on your dog one time isn’t likely to cause major problems but it’s not something you’d want to make a habit of as regular use could actually cause your dog’s skin to become more flakey instead of less!
Let’s take a closer look at why this is!
How Human Dandruff Shampoo Affects Dogs
The active ingredient in Head & Shoulders is zinc pyrithione which is safe for dogs and can help with dandruff.
But the problem is everything about human shampoos, including Head & Shoulders, are formulated to be used with humans and our skin and hair have different requirements compared to a canine’s.
One of the biggest factors has to do with the pH differences between us and dogs. While it can vary some between breed and diet, a dog’s skin usually has a pH of roughly 7.5. Humans, on the other hand, have a skin pH of around 5.5.
That means dogs have an almost neutral pH and humans are comparatively quite acidic. Shampoo for humans is therefore often more acidic, to match our natural pH and can easily irritate a dog’s sensitive and more neutral skin.
Dogs also have skin that’s only around 33% as thick as our own and which can make their skin more sensitive in general.
Some Ingriendents Can Be Harmful To Canine Skin
Some human shampoos contain mineral oil which can help moisturize our hair but should be avoided for dogs. When used in shampoo, mineral oil creates a barrier that prevents anything from being released from your dog’s skin.
That means the normal process of releasing toxins from the skin can’t happen and this can have a negative long-term impact on your dog.
Besides the pH problem, ingredients that change the color or smell of shampoo can be irritating for dogs.
Artificial fragrances may make our hair smell nice but they can be overwhelming for our dog’s powerful nose.
Similarly, some artificial dyes can be irritating to a dog’s sensitive skin.
But the most dangerous human shampoos are those that contain essential oils. For dogs, essential oils are extremely toxic and even just exposure to the skin can cause an adverse reaction.
Even though many human shampoos won’t cause your dog harm, the risk is always there and with so many different ingredients it’s always a better idea to use a shampoo specifically made for your canine friend.
There are some unexpected things, like honey, that can benefit both human and canine skin but dandruff shampoo isn’t one of them.
While using human dandruff shampoo on dogs usually especially isn’t dangerous, it shouldn’t be your go-to solution for dry skin. Instead, look at other options for helping your dog maintain a healthy coat.