Can I Use Cat Shampoo on My Dog?

So, looking down at your pup, you see he looks a little worse for the wear. That last trip to the park, along with the rolling in the dirt with his canine buddies has made him look more like a neglected stray than your beloved companion.

But you’re out of dog shampoo. Would your persnickety cat lend you some? And is it safe to use on your canine companion?

Cat Shampoo on Dog header

Can you use cat shampoo on dogs? While occasionally using cat shampoo on dogs will cause no harm, it will not be as effective as using a proper dog shampoo. Cats’ skin tends to be more sensitive than the canine variety; therefore, their shampoos may not have the strength needed if you use them to cleanse your dog’s fur.

Truth be told, it’s safe to use anything on your canine companion on occasion. It certainly won’t do any serious harm. You can even use Dawn dish detergent if you’re dealing with a greasy or oily mess. But save the dish wash for especially dirty occasions, and the cat shampoo for those times when nothing else is available.

There are reasons why different pets have different products. Feline fur and dog fur are not the same. They vary in thickness, structure, and pH.

Therefore, the effects of a certain shampoo on a cat will not be the same on a dog.

Dogs and cats Do Not Have The Same Skin!

It must be repeated, that the pH of a pup’s skin differs from that of a feline, which is more acidic.

Dog shampoos are specifically designed to maintain the proper pH balance, while, as should be obvious, feline products do the same for cats. If the correct pH balance is not maintained, your four-legged friend may suffer from redness and rashes which can cause discomfort and a great deal of scratching.

You may be causing more trouble than simply a little dirt. You may think your pooch has fleas, but it could merely be a rash caused by overuse of an improper cleansing agent.

Human shampoos are okay to use at times, but not on a regular basis. Human skin is closer to the feline’s one when it comes to pH, so the same problems could arise with its use.

Additionally, canine products are designed to help control the growth of insects and germs in the animal’s coat, concerns which may not be of interest to us humans. And they are also formulated to lather quite profusely. A little bit goes a long way, and the quicker to lather, the shorter the bath needs to be. Skittish pups, especially, will appreciate this.

Therefore, when it comes to make a choice for your pup, choosing something specifically made for canines is always the best choice.

A DYI Dog Shampoo?

Maybe you’re a die hard do-it-yourselfer, or you just prefer to know exactly what’s in everything you use on yourself or your loved ones. Maybe you just want to save a few bucks!

For whatever reason, there are any numbers of recipes out there for perfectly safe and effective shampoos that you can make at home. Practically all the components can be found in your own pantry, or are easily available at your local market or pharmacy.

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup dish soap
  • ½ cup white vinegar

Dish soaps are designed to be effective against oil and grease on your dishes, pots, and pans, and will be just as effective on your pet.

Vinegar is a well-known antibacterial and deodorizing agent. Simply combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, wet down your pet with warm water, spray him down and lather him up, making sure to avoid the eyes, or even the entire head.

Most pups don’t appreciate getting their heads soaked. Simply dampen a cloth and wipe their face. Nothing could be simpler. But remember to rinse thoroughly.

Shampoo left in the fur will simply cause irritation and attract dirt. And keep in mind that, gentle as they may be on your infant or your hands, baby conditioner and dish detergent should not be used consistently on your pet, as they are not specifically formulated for such use.

If your pup has dry, itchy skin, you may want to try an oatmeal recipe. For a homemade variety you will need:

  • 1 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 quart warm water

First, use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the oatmeal to the consistency of flour. Next, combine the oatmeal and the baking soda in a large bowl, add the water, and stir until dissolved. And there you have a treatment for dry skin!

There are a wide variety of recipes to be found online. You should be able to find one, or several, that will meet your needs, and whose ingredients are already at hand.

Can You Use Cat Flea Shampoo on Dogs?

The simple answer is, “Yes.” With all the caveats given before. It’s not ideal, but it’s safe. However, the reverse is never true. Certain insecticides used in dog flea shampoo are harmful, even lethal, for cats.

This being said, it stands to reason that the gentler insecticides safe for cats may not be quite as effective at killing the little invaders on your pooch. So, in an emergency, in order to relieve your pet, and yourself, it’s okay to use this type of feline flea and tick treatment on your pup, but it may require a follow up treatment with a more appropriate solution.


While it’s safe to use feline products on your canine companion, for your own peace of mind, and your pet’s comfort, it’s always best to stick with what is specially formulated for pups.

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