Find Discounts on Your Favorite pet dog Products and Save Up To 20%!

Let's Go!

Can I Wash My Dog With Baby Shampoo?

We may earn a commission if you click on a link, but at no extra cost to you. Read our disclosure policy for information.

Tim Rhodes

Do you ever wonder about the question, can I wash my dog with baby shampoo?

The sun is shining, and you decide to walk your dog to the park.

It seems like a great idea.

It was indeed until you see your fluffy animal rolling himself with passion in the dirt.

Despite all the affection and love you have for your dog, let’s be real, it stinks.

You’re out of dog shampoo and desperate to find a way to get rid of the foul smell, suddenly, an idea comes to your mind: what about baby shampoo?

Table of Contents

Can I Wash My Dog With Baby Shampoo?

Babies are so delicate and soft, which shouldn’t be an issue to use the product on your barking Pet.

Therefore, let us dive deeper into the topic.

Shampoo Overview

A simple question that may riddle you.

We all use shampoo regularly, but do we really know its composition?

Every brand has its own secret formula, but all share a common list of ingredients.

After all, their principle stays the same: washing hair.

The History Of Shampoo

The shampoo is not a recent invention; this product, derived from soap, has a long history behind it.

Baths were trendy for the upper class as far back as 4000 B.C.

Many civilizations will create and use soaps, made mainly from vegetable oils or animal fat, and those soaps were used both for the body and for hair.

The recipes didn’t evolve much, except for the addition of fragrances, as hygiene standards stayed quite low up until the 19th century.

The term “Shampoo” has Indian roots and dates from 1762, during the Colonial era, and in Hindi, chāmpo (चाँपो /tʃãːpoː/) means “to soothe, to knead.”

It has been coined by Sake Dean Mohammed, an Indian man married to an Irish wife that opened in 1814 “The Indian Medicated Vapour Bath,” a kind of Turkish bath with massages and the use of Shampoo in Brighton, England.

The Englishman Kasey Hebert will be the first to introduce a commercial shampoo in London’s streets in 1914.

From there, Shampoos evolved rapidly, multiplying the recipes and being developed specifically for certain types of hair or skin conditions.

Nowadays, national entities regulate hygiene standards that list which product can or cannot be incorporated in a shampoo product or any other beauty care or cosmetic product.

In the U.S., this task is divided between the FDA ( Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ) for the composition of the products.

The FPLA ( Fair Packaging and Labeling Act ), working coordinately with Congress.

A cosmetic product doesn’t require FDA approval before going on the market, except for interstate commerce.

For international commerce, the shampoo will have to fit the local hygiene standards and be approved by every country separately.

Composition Of A Shampoo

Shampoos are heavy-duty soap specifically designed for hair, and they help separate the grease and dirt from your hair.

The main active ingredients of shampoos are called surfactants, acting as detergent and helping release the greases and sebum from the hair.

The most common surfactants are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate, often in addition to a co-surfactant called Cocamidopropyl betaine.

Purified water acts as a solvent and can represent 40 to 60 % of the total product.

We can find salt (Sodium Chloride) used to adjust the shampoo’s viscosity in addition to these products.

Polyquaternium and/or guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride is used as moisturizers and preventing entanglement.

Polyethene glycol is used as a foaming agent and a wide range of preservatives like benzyl alcohol or potassium sorbate, and emulsifiers like peg-7 glyceryl cocoate.

Some of these chemicals may be sourced naturally, like salt or Cocamidopropyl (made from coconut oil), but most are synthetic.

To this list of essential agents, we can find a wide range of additives as pH stabilizers, colorings, anti-limescale agents, texture agents, essential oils or fragrances, moisturizers, and anti-dandruff and anti-lice agents.

So many ingredients for a simple shampoo!

Some chemicals may cause an allergic reaction, and countries worldwide have established lists of banned chemicals.

Based on the regular shampoos formulas, specific shampoos have been developed throughout the years.

Innovations keep appearing on the market every year, seemingly better and safer than the previous generation of products.

In the case that interests us, let’s see the specific properties of baby shampoos and dog shampoos before deciding whether it is safe to bathe our stinky – but adorable – barking pet, a product made for the flesh of our flesh.

Baby Shampoos

The first commercially available shampoo specifically designed for babies was Johnson’s No More Tears Baby Shampoo in 1953.

Baby shampoos were then the latest evolution in baby hygiene products.

This shampoo was using a detergent milder than the ones found in regular soaps and shampoos.

With a softer pH than regular shampoo, and in addition to milder products, Johnson’s product had the advantage of being less irritating for the baby’s skin and the eyes.

Johnson’s No More Tears Shampoo was a huge success and is still a reference, and the drawback is that baby Shampoo is less effective at cleaning due to its nature.

Supposing that your baby isn’t playing around in the dirt as your family dog does, this is not a major issue.

The baby scalp also produces less sebum than adult hair, so it does not need to be washed regularly.

Nowadays, baby shampoos still follow the same principles as a mild pH close to 7, less irritating surfactants, less fragrance, less potential allergens.

Also, the use of nonionic surfactants to avoid stingy eyes and a larger dilution of the formula.

In definitive terms, we could say that baby shampoos are a less effective and thus less irritating version of an adult shampoo.

Dog Shampoos

So, what about dog Shampoos?

Man’s best friends have specific needs, therefore, require specific products.

There are plenty of different shampoos available, some with more specific actions than others.

Obviously, a dog shampoo’s main purpose is to clean your pet’s fur and avoid bad smells.

But dogs (and pets in general, for that matter) also require to be protected from all sorts of nasty parasites.

Dog fur can be a perfect nest for pests, and infections can occur easily.

Dog shampoos are therefore formulated with these specific needs in mind.

If dog shampoo formulas are kept secret by their owners, the necessity to put the ingredients list on the packaging can help us see clearer their compositions.

Ingredients List

A detergent/surfactant: these agents will help separate the grease and dirt from your dog’s fur.

There are plenty of different surfactants, but commonly you will find sodium lauryl sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate.

You may find some shampoos using a vegetable oil base, most notably in the organic brands.

A moisturizer: surfactants may irritate your dog’s skin.

The addition of moisturizer helps to protect your pet and avoid itchiness.

Moisturizers can be vegetable or mineral oil-based but will act according to the same principles.

A soothing agent: dogs tend to like to frolic around.

Their adventurous lifestyle may cause scratches and other irritations.

The surfactant may exacerbate the situation, and the moisturizer may not be enough to soothe your dog’s skin.

Soothing agents, like aloe vera, are here to help.

An emulsifier: all these ingredients need to form a homogenous product despite their very different composition.

Emulsifiers are here to prevent your dog shampoo from splitting and so from having to shake it every time you need to use it.


On top of these ingredients, some additives may be present.

Most of them will be medicines that will help and treat specific diseases and infestations.

The following ones are specifically designed for the dog’s needs.

Insecticides: preventing infestations of fleas and mange

Skin condition treatment: these treatments are designed to heal your dog’s skin from various conditions for particular needs.

Antifungals: they will help your dog fight a yeast or ringworm infection.

Antipruritics: they will act like super soothers for dogs prone to have skin reactions and allergies.

Antiseborrheic agents: they regulate the excess of sebum your dog’s fur may create in certain conditions.

Emollients: the opposite of antiseborrheic agents, they are designed to help dogs with dry fur and itchy skins.

These additives may not be present in all dog shampoos and are designed for particular uses.

Your family vet will be a great help for you to choose the perfect shampoo for your dog.

Always seek professional advice when you are in doubt.

Can I Wash The Dog With Baby Shampoo

As we saw, dogs have particular needs, and those are very different from human ones (considering you do not frolic in mud yourself).

Now that we explored what shampoo and the composition of the different types of shampoo was, we can explore the different solutions available.

Washing A Human With Dog Shampoo

Yes, we know this is not the question you asked for.

Though we need to address a warning to this specific case.

You should never, at any cost, wash yourself or any human with a dog shampoo.

As we saw earlier, dog shampoos are prone to contain medications specifically designed for dogs and can harm your skin.

If by mistake, you manage to use your dog shampoo instead of your regular one, you should consider seeking advice from your general practitioner, or the anti-poison center, as informed on the bottle.

You should avoid having your pet’s products mixed with yours, especially with kids around.

Washing A Dog With A Regular Shampoo

Before considering the use of baby shampoos on dogs, let’s address the use of your good old shampoo.

Regular shampoos (or “adult” shampoos) are not the best fit for your pet, and they are often too irritating for dog skin.

Furthermore, many additives can cause a skin reaction or an allergic reaction, thus harming your pet.

Regular body soaps can also potentially do more harm than good to your dog.

Instead of using regular soap or shampoo, consider washing your pet with only water and a nice but gentle scrub.

In case of emergency, with really no other options, you could consider washing your dog with an adult shampoo designed for susceptible skins, and preferably organic.

If you have no choice but to resort to this option, we advise you to wash your dog with dog shampoo as soon as you can and consider consulting a vet if your dog presents signs of skin irritation.

Washing Your Dog With Baby Shampoo

There we are!

This is the moment you waited for, so let’s not make you wait for more.

YES, you can wash your dog with baby shampoo.

Hang on, and it’s not over!

Being able to wash your dog with baby shampoo does not mean that it is efficient, nor that you can use it often.

Baby shampoo, as we saw, is a very soft detergent containing little to no allergens.

Therefore your dog should not have a skin reaction to the product.

But the lack of detergent action in the baby shampoo will have the effect of not being very efficient on your dog’s fur.

You may have to scrub a bit more of your dog if he’s not been a good boy and played with dirt for hours.

The scrubbing itself may cause skin irritation.

Using too often baby shampoo on your dog may, after a while, provoke or enhance a skin reaction.

Furthermore, the foul smell may not be gone, as baby shampoo contains very little fragrance and is not designed for that purpose anyway.

Baby shampoo should be used only in emergencies on your dog and very occasionally.

Baby Shampoo’ Alternatives For Your Dog

Now that we finally answered the question and saw that we could use baby shampoo on the pup, we may also explore the different alternatives you could use to have a clean and happy dog.

Household Items Alternatives To Dog Shampoo

Cleaning your dog does not necessarily require the use of a product designed to wash.

You may be able to use everyday household items that may help to keep your dog clean and happy:

Watered-Down Dish Soap

Be careful; not every dish soap can be used on your dog.

The soap needs to be sensitive, skin-friendly, and contain little to no fragrance.

A few drops in a large amount of water will help to rub away the fur’s grease and dirt.

Baking Soda

This prevalent kitchen item is reputed for its ability to pull odors away.

Baking soda can be used in addition to oatmeal for a better pH balance, thus avoiding skin irritations.


Cornstarch is convenient to remove odors, similarly to baking soda.

It can also help remove greases and dirt when brushing it away from the fur.

Baby Wipes

Like baby shampoos, baby wipes are very gentle to the skin and will be a good solution to wipe off small amounts of dirt from your pet.

Make Your Own Dog Shampoo

You may be a crafty person, so making your own dog shampoo may be a good idea.

Crafting your homemade dog shampoo will have many advantages like you can have better control over the formula’s composition.

You can save a buck or two by buying the ingredients in bulk, and you can save a lot more if you choose to go all-organic, compared to the organic brands.

You can do it in the family as a fun experiment, and your dog will probably feel the extra love and dedication you give it.

A few websites are listing ways of doing your own dog shampoo, and recipes are abundant.

Most recipes will include water (purified is best), a detergent/surfactant, often castile soap or baking soda, a moisturizer, often some form of coconut oil, or rosemary.

Also, an antibacterial, like white vinegar, and essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint, or lavender oil.

You will also be able to find recipes for dry dog shampoos that are very convenient to carry around for a quick wash by just shaking the powder on your pet and brushing it away.

Though they are less efficient overall than a wet wash.

These shampoos are made using prevalent ingredients, such as the one we saw earlier.

White vinegar and essential oils such as lavender oil are a good way to protect your dog from pests for cheap.

These items can be from organic sources for the large part, for even better control of the final product’s quality.

The Drawback Of Alternatives To Dog Shampoos

The alternatives to dog shampoo listed above are a very efficient, safe, and budget-friendly way of cleaning your dog.

Nonetheless, there can be some drawbacks to their use, but also their fabrication.

You may be a very crafty person, be used for baking and respecting recipes scrupulously, and still face issues.

The recipe may be wrong, harmful, or just inefficient: you will need to carefully source your information, as you should always do on the Internet.

Try to follow recipes with some feedback from people that already tried it for themselves.

For your dog’s health, better be safe than sorry.

You may not find the right ingredients: if cornstarch or baking soda are very common, this is not necessarily the case with essential oils, for example.

Be sure to get the right product and refer to the plant’s Latin name instead of its common name for more safety.

Your dog may require specific needs: clearly, using a DIY dog shampoo or baby shampoo on your dog shouldn’t be an issue.

But your dog may have an underlying condition that you may or may not be aware of.

Using anything but a specific dog shampoo can cause harm to your dog by irritating its skin, causing an infection, or just by not being efficient enough to fight a pest infestation.

Those are severe topics to consider when using an alternative to dog shampoo.

Dogs may appear to be strong and resistant creatures but really are very sensitive to our world designed for human needs.

Always seek medical advice before experimenting with a new recipe.

Ensure your dog is in good overall health and does not present any sign of skin irritation or fur infestation before engaging in DIY practices.

Final Thoughts

As we saw, using baby shampoo can be a safe alternative to your dog shampoo in case of emergency, and we have the answer to the question can I wash my dog with baby shampoo.

Household items and DIY alternatives may be more efficient for this purpose and have the advantage of giving you a lot of control over the ingredients you will use their sources, and their price.

If solutions exist, we must stress that nothing will really replace a professional dog shampoo recommended by your vet.

Dog health is widely different from human health, and as we saw, dog shampoos are a good source of protection and medication for your pet.

Not acknowledging your pet’s specific needs or using DIY methods for too long may cause severe harms, like infections and irritations, that only licensed, professional products will be able to cure and heal.

With all these recommendations, do not forget that if you can use baby shampoo on your dog, you can’t use regular shampoo on them, and you should never use dog shampoo on a human.

We hope that you learned more about shampoos, from their conception to their usage, and that our advice helped you find the right alternative for your dog shampoo in case of emergency.

We recommend that you seek advice from your vet about your options and bulk-buy your dog shampoo, never to fall short of it, as it is and will always be the safest way to give your beloved pet a good cleaning.

In a Hurry?

Take a look at the most popular and trending pet dog products.