Human shampoo on a puppy?

cnvhMarch 5, 2008

My parents just adopted a 7-week old puppy two days ago; my dad was wondering what kind of shampoo he should use to bathe her. Since my husband and I were going to the vet tonight anyway (time for the family's annual checkup), I thought I'd ask my vet and let my dad know. So I asked him if dog shampoo is OK for a 7-week old puppy, or if it has to be puppy shampoo. To my surprise, my vet said to just go ahead and use human shampoo. Not baby shampoo (like Johnson & Johnson's)-- just regular old shampoo.

It just seemed strange to me and I was wondering if anyone knew of any solid data on the subject. I did a little looking online, and all I found were posts in message boards to the effect of, "NO, NEVER use human shampoo, dogs and humans are different, that's why they make DOG shampoo" and so on. But this is our VET recommending this, so clearly he must have a reason to say it's OK??

If anyone knows why human shampoo SHOULDN'T be used, I'd appreciate an explanation for exactly WHY not-- not just responses like "dog products are for dogs and people products are for people." Thanks!

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Dogs have fur not hair, which is why you should use dog shampoo on your dog. Buddy wash and Buddy rinse smell like lavender and we bath the dogs once a motnh or whenever they get stinky, which ever. Be certain to rinse well and avoid those shapoos with flea meds in them this can cause skin irritations, as can washing too frequently

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 11:24PM
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Human shampoo tends to have a higher ph which can be irritating to pets skin. Selsun Blue can be used for dogs with skin problems and it usually works wonders.
I agree with mazer about avoiding products with flea repellents in them and most of them should not be used on pups under 8-12 weeks. Make sure if you use a pet shampoo to see if there is an age recommendation.
I bathe our dogs frequently and have no problem with skin irritations- much of that is due to products or lack of used during grooming.
I have used dog shampoo/conditioner on my own hair and can tell a big difference between them and human products.
I would try to stay away from human shampoos if possible- if you need to baby shampoo would be best.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 12:06AM
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Rather than running out to BUY something, in a pinch human shampoo, would be fine, baby shampoo probably better.

I wouldn't use anything with lots of fragrances, dogs sense of smell is way stronger than ours, so a fragrant shampoo could be really annoying to the dog.

The primary ingredient in most shampoo base is sodium laurel (or laureth) sulfate. The base ingredient is pretty much the same for dogs and people.

The biggest difference being deodorizers and frangrances.. which I think are important...

I do use buddy wash on my dogs. But I consider it a splurge more than a necessity.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 1:54AM
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I have used baby shampoo in a pinch, but it can irritate the dogs skin. There is a shampoo specifically made for pups, I think that would be the best way to go.

The vet has given poor advice. Given my bad experience in this department, I would question vets ability to properly care for the dog. Would the vet treat the dog for free if it got sick because of the shampoo and the bad advice? I think not, sadly, your parents would probably not get an apology.

I know of someone who also has a pup, it's their first dog. Vet recommended giving the pup ice cream to help with a mild separation anxiety issue. Dog got horrible diarrhea, humans panicked and took the pup to an emergency room. They changed vet's.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 7:21AM
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SG, I am quite confident with our vet and have no question of his ability to properly care for our pets. I am certain that he didn't recommend "people" shampoo purely as a cost-saving tactic-- his practice is located in an affluent area and he's not "cheap" by any means; if there was a good reason to go with an expensive dog/puppy shampoo, believe me, he would have recommended that.

As for deodorizers and fragrances... I don't know about the rest of you, but most dog shampoos I've come across are fragranced to high heaven-- clean pine scent, fresh lavender scent, etc.-- so if it just comes down to fragrances, then I can't really see the difference-- most dog shampoos are fragranced just as much as people shampoos, just with different scents.

Personally, we DO use a dog-specific shampoo for our own dog, but she tends to get itchy sometimes, so we use an oatmeal/aloe formula that she seems to do well with.

Skeptic that I am, the more I think about it, it seems perfectly plausible to me that the pet-product industry would LOVE us all to believe that ONLY their products are acceptable to use, and anything else would be dangerous. I would love to see some actual scientific studies comparing them, but I don't know if such data exists.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 9:06AM
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I'm glad that have confidence in your vet. I also have the same concerning mine (my 7th in 16 years). As I stated, my experience with the veterinary profession has not been a good one.

My most recent disagreement happened when my regular vet sent me to a "very expensive" alternate vet for a procedure that would have cost $1,500.00. She does not have the equipment for the test. I agreed with having this one done.

When I got to alternate vet, he was bent on doing a different test that would have been at least double the original price. NOT something that is gonna happen, unless I personally consult with two other vets and research what is going to happen during the test.

I have never been back to "expensive vet", and made very clear to all involved that I was not happy. Other research and consultation led me on a completely different (inexpensive) path that has fixed the problem.

I could go on and on about what my experiences have been. Countless wrong diagnosis and advice has cost me tons of money an frustration, not to mention almost losing one of my dogs twice due to complete stubbornness and yes stupidity on the part of the vet. Not once, did I get an apology for what my dog went through, not to mention me.

If I had gotten the apology, my feelings about the profession would be very different, I do realize people make mistakes. As it is now, I question and research everything vet wants to do to my dogs. This has also saved tons of time, frustration and money.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 9:35AM
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I would love to see some actual scientific studies comparing them, but I don't know if such data exists.

You don't really need a scientific study, just compare the listed ingredients.

I am constantly looking at the ingredients on many products because I have a chemical sensitivity allergy... so I keep artificial colors and fragrances out of my house as much as possible.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:10AM
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If you avoid medicated human shampoos, I don't see a problem using them as long as you don't bathe the dog more than once a month. Otherwise, human shampoos tend to be very drying, which will cause itchy skin if used more than once a month. In case of more frequent bathing, I would use an oatmeal based doggie shampoo.

Note- Selsun Blue is an antifungal shampoo, but I doubt the manufacturer wants people to know that!

SG- As a future vet, I am sorry that they have not been good to you. I totally understand your frustration- I am becoming a vet because of the same reason. Stay on top of us- we tend to get set in our ways and not change despite evidence to the contrary. I doubt most vets put as much time and effort into your pets care as you do, and that is a shame.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:17AM
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I would like to see a comparison study on human vs pet shampoo. As I said I have used pet shampoos/conditioner on my own hair. I really like the Bright Magic- it makes my highlights super blonde! Not all pet shampoo is the same- just like human shampoo- some are better than others. I do like human conditioner better than most of the pet conditioner- the pet ones seem to be very heavy and have an odd smell.

Meghane- I guess Antifungal Shampoo doesn't make for good marketing :) I was cleaning my grandparents home once when I was a young teenager. To a teenager- Selsun Blue sounds like toilet bowl cleans toilets well too!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 1:25PM
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Thanks Meghane for your thoughts,

It is unfortunate that I and my dogs have had so many problems with vets. I just donÂt understand why, after making such huge mistakes and taking huge amounts of money and being wrong, it is so difficult for a vet to just say that there was a mistake made. I have a small business, and when I make a mistake, I am not only embarrassed but mad at myself for doing it. I fall all over myself with apologies to the client, and ask them to tell me how I can fix things.

But, it has been a learning experience. My current vet who I really really like, is on the same page with me. She knows very well that I am going to question everything she recommends and maybe consult and research if I think it's needed.

To me, she operates like a country vet. Aside from another vet who comes in for one or two days a week and a few aids, she is the only vet. She even answers her own phone on occasion (always calls me back) and computes her bills on a calculator.

Plus, she is very good!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 5:43PM
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I use horse shampoo---Mane and Tail---on me, dogs, cats, horses, and kids. Or Suave human shampoo---much less expensive. Have for over 40 years.

Selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Selsun Blue---see where the name came from----I used selenium sulfide animal shampoo to bathe dogs in the 60's at the vet clinic in which I worked---the cautions on the bottle said to wear rubber gloves since the concentration was not safe for humans. The key is knowing on what skin problem to use medicated shampoo----something most normal pet owners do not know unless so informed by their vet.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Always have used human shampoo or Dove soap (for those crusty areas when one of my boys rolls in something). Never bought into (literally) dog shampoos. I think it is a marketing ploy to keep places like Petsmart and the like alive:))). I've never had a problem in 20 yrs with a human shampoo/soap on my dogs.

Good luck to parents on the new puppy! Lots of work ahead:))

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 5:51AM
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Do a web search for some of Barbara Bird's articles on shampoo's. She has been a groomer for many years and teaches an online course to groomers on shampoos. She has reasearched the subject extensively and I think she has also written a booklet on the subject of shampoo's and ingredients. There's not two cents worth of difference between them. The biggest thing most people do that cause problems no matter which you use is not rinsing completely


    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 7:21PM
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I dont even use commercial shampoos full of chemicals and fragrance on myself! I've been using an all natural olive oil and coconut oil based bar soap on the dog, one with essential herbs that repel fleas and ticks. Works just great, and he smells great too.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 12:12PM
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I've always used human shampoo (& conditioner) on my dogs too! Not a bit of trouble.

I also took someone's advice on this forum - can't remember who - to brush my dog when she got stinky, rather than the knee-jerk reaction of giving her a bath. She's a sheltie with a long coat so brushing is good for her anyway, keeps the shedding under control, and since she's an indoor dog, I thought I'd give that advice a try. So far, so good! It's been weeks since I've given her a bath and she has a soft clean coat and no doggie smell, woohoo!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 7:04PM
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I used baby shampoo on our peke when we first got him. When I used it up I bought some oatmeal dog shampoo but I still also use human moisturizing shampoo and conditioner too. Since I started keeping his coat short there's not so much shedding either.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Such confusing replies you received! Actually, the WORST shampoo would be human baby shampoo because the pH is too low and it is wrong for cats and dogs. Sure, you could get away with it, but if you want your pet to be comfortable, that would not be the shampoo of choice. Human ADULT shampoo is okay, especially if you need a dandruff shampoo. A cheap antifungal is baking soda, however. I mix that with my own shampoo and it's fine for me, but it certainly does raise the pH of shampoo, so I don't know if it's a good choice for dogs or not. But you could add baking soda to any loads of pet blankets and towels you wash. My dogs do really well with oatmeal shampoo formulated for dogs.

As far as dogs having fur, some dogs have fur and some have hair. It is fur if it is like a wolf coat, a double coat that sheds and doesn't need cutting. It is a hair coat if it requires cutting, like a poodle, bichon frise, yorkie, etc.

If you have a pure breed you will get the most specific answers by talking to others with your specific breed.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 4:25PM
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So here's what I gather-- that normal shampoo probably isn't much different (if at all) from dog shampoo, and would be fine if used on a normal-coated (not sensitive/allergic) dog on a regular (not frequent) basis. Makes sense to me!

This was the most informative discussion I've found online on this topic, and was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 5:55PM
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