Is It Safe To Use Human Dry Shampoo On My Dog? (Explained)

Published on
Fluent Woof is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.
is it safe to use human dry shampoo on my dog

It’s 4:00 pm, and your guests should arrive around 5:00. Your dog comes in from the yard smeared with something that smells like death warmed over. There’s not enough time to draw a bath, lather, rinse, and dry Fido. What should you do?

Most human dry shampoos aren’t safe for dogs, as they might contain toxic ingredient. While some shampoos might be safe, the majority aren’t. If in a hurry, a homemade dry shampoo from household ingredients is a safer choice.

When clients would call with grooming questions similar to this scenario, they sometimes asked if they could use their dry shampoo. I would always advise against applying a human product to clean their furbaby’s hair because I understood the vast difference between products made for people and those formulated specifically for dogs.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can evaluate your dry shampoo to determine if it’s okay to use on your dog in an emergency. I’ll explain the differences between products made for humans and those formulated for dogs. Then we’ll discuss how often you should use dry shampoo to clean your pooch. In case you’re wondering whether you need to use dog shampoo at all, I’ll explain why it’s wise. Once we cover these important questions, I’ll describe the reasons why eight popular human dry shampoo brands are not made to use on your dog and share a recipe for homemade dry dog shampoo. 

How Do I Know if My Dry Shampoo is Safe for My Dog?

Similar to regular shampoo, most human dry shampoos are formulated to match the skin pH of humans, not dogs. Additionally, human formulas are often stored in pressurized bottles, which can frighten some pups upon discharge. So, unless your dry shampoo has similar ingredients to a compatible dog dry shampoo and comes in a spray bottle, it’s best to not use it on Fido’s coat. 

When deciding if your dry shampoo is safe for your pooch, check to see if it is:

  • Made from natural ingredients
  • Paraben, sulfate, and alcohol-free
  • Free of synthetic fragrances or dyes 
  • pH balanced for dog skin
  • Compatible with your pup’s coat

If you’re wondering about dry shampoo that’s made for humans, chances are that it’s not safe for your dog because it’s not likely to be pH balanced for canine skin. Before using any dry shampoo on your pup’s coat, check the ingredient list to make sure it’s free of harsh detergents or chemicals.

Human Dry Shampoo vs. Dog-Specific Waterless Shampoo

Whether you’re talking about dry shampoo for dogs or humans, they’re both formulated to absorb the natural oil called sebum that’s secreted by glands in the skin. Eliminating excess oil makes it easier for the product to remove dirt and debris from the hair. After applying either type of product, you’ll need to brush the hair to remove shampoo.

While there are similarities in dry shampoos for humans and dogs, there are some differences that can make human products unsafe for your pooch.

  • pH balance – Most human formulas are not pH balanced for dog skin, and that can upset your pup’s acid barrier leading to skin irritations and infections.
  • Packaging – Dry shampoo for humans often comes in a pressurized bottle. If you have a skittish dog, the sound the bottle makes when you discharge the contents may be distressing to him or her.
  • Ingredients – While both human and dog products should be free of sulfates, parabens, and alcohol, human dry shampoo can contain other ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Remember, dogs lick their fur, so a substance that is safe for your hair could still make your pooch very ill.

Waterless shampoos made for humans and dogs are both formulated to remove excess oils and dirt from the hair, and they both need to be brushed out following application. However, the products have some key differences that you need to know about so that you’ll be able to select a dog-safe formula.

How Often Can I Use Human Dry Shampoo On My Dog?

For the reasons outlined in the above section, you should use human dry shampoo on your dog rarely to never. Waterless products, whether formulated for dogs or humans, aren’t intended to replace regular bathing. They should be for in-between touch-ups where you need to clean and freshen your pup’s coat quickly and with no mess. For example, Fido just rolled in something stinky outside, and you have guests coming for dinner in about half an hour. 

If you need to clean your pooch immediately, and all you have available is your dry shampoo, check the ingredient list before applying it to your dog’s coat. It should have no harsh detergents or chemicals, be made of natural ingredients, and come in a pump or spray bottle. Provided there are no toxic substances, you may be able to use it as a one-time emergency stop-gap. But don’t make it a habit.  

Because human products can have harmful ingredients or have the wrong pH balance for your pooch, they should be used rarely to never. Even dog-specific waterless shampoo is meant only for occasional use and should not replace regular bathing. If all you have in an emergency is human shampoo, check the ingredient before using it.

Do I Need Dog Shampoo At All?

You may be wondering if you can just use human shampoo. What’s the big deal? You should not use human shampoo whether it be regular or dry for a few key reasons. 

We already mentioned that shampoo is pH balanced differently for dogs and people. Human skin tends to be more acidic than dogs, so the formulas for human products tend to have a lower pH. Continued use can disrupt your dog’s protective acid barrier.

Another reason you should use dog-specific shampoo is that canine skin is more sensitive than our skin. Applying products with harsh detergents or chemicals can irritate their skin and lead to inflammation or infections. 

If you think a quick rinse down with water would suffice, think again. It may help remove visible dirt, but water alone will not provide the deep clean your pooch needs. Properly formulated dog shampoo helps to remove dead skin, dirt, and excess oils along with undesired odors. 

Yes, you need to use dog shampoo. Human products are usually not pH balanced for dog skin, and they may have ingredients that are too harsh for delicate canine epithelium. Hosing your pooch with water may remove outer layers of dirt, but it won’t get down to the skin or help to remove unwanted smells.

Overview of Popular Dry Human Brands

If you use dry shampoo, you may have one of the popular brands on your shelf at home. Should you ever consider using it to clean your dog’s fur? That depends on the formula. Below, we’ll evaluate 8 of the top human products to help you decide whether your dry shampoo is safe for Fido.

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Batisle dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs as it contains ingredients like distearyldimonium chloride and denatured alcohol which are potentially irritating for canine skin. The formula also has butane, isobutane, and propane, which are highly flammable. High concentrations of isobutane can cause dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, convulsions, and suffocation. If the spray contacts the eyes, it can cause irritation or damage. 

We do not recommend using this product on your dog.

Dove Dry Shampoo Hair Treatment

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Dove dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs because it contains isobutane and propane which are highly flammable and can be irritating to the skin. The SD alcohol-40 tends to dry the hair and skin, and it may enhance the skin’s absorption of other chemicals. The product also includes a chemical-based fragrance that can trigger allergies or skin irritation.

We advise against using this product to clean your dog’s fur.

Co-lab Sheer Invisibleas Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Co-lab dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs because it’s an aerosol product that uses butane, isobutane, and propane for propellants. These ingredients are flammable and can be irritating to the skin and eyes. With denatured alcohol, the formula may dry the skin. There’s also a chemical-based fragrance in the product which could cause skin reactions.

We don’t recommend using this on your dog.

Living Proof Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Living Proof dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs as it’s an aerosol product, this product includes isobutane and propane, which are flammable and dangerous for dogs. It also includes ingredients such as di-propylene glycol and denatured alcohol. These substances can be toxic if dogs lick the residue from their coats before you have a chance to brush it out. Chemical perfume in the product can also put your pooch at risk for allergic skin reactions.

We advise against applying this to your dog’s fur

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Klorane dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs, like other aerosols, this product relies on butane and propane for repellants. These ingredients are highly flammable and can cause toxic fumes. Including isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol as drying agents, the formula can be toxic if your pooch licks the remains from his fur. Alcohol-based substances and chemical fragrances may also be irritating to your dog’s sensitive skin.

We do not recommend this product for dogs

OGX Refresh Revitalize Extra Strength Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: OGX dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs because it contains isobutane and propane as propellants, OGX is flammable and can dispel noxious fumes if overheated. The formula includes denatured alcohol, which is irritating to the skin and eyes and can be toxic if ingested. While argan oil is an excellent hair and skin conditioner, it’s not safe for your dog to ingest, so this ingredient could be an issue for your pooch.

We advise against using this product to clean your pup’s fur

Not your mother’s Clean  Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak dry shampoo isn’t safe for dogs because it’s highly flammable because it contains isobutane and propane as propellants. These ingredients can be irritating to a dog’s skin and could irritate the eyes. Specially denatured alcohol can be drying to Fido’s skin, and it may produce toxic side effects if he licks the residue off his fur.

We do not recommend using this product on your dog

Pantene Dry Shampoo

Safety: Not safe for dogs

Reason: Cheat Day dry shampoo from Pantene isn’t safe for dogs because it includes isobutane and propane as propellants. These substances are highly flammable and can produce toxic gasses. Also containing synthetic fragrance, the product could trigger allergic skin reactions. 

We recommend against using this product to clean your dog’s fur

Based on the ingredients of the popular products listed above, we strongly recommend against using human dry shampoos on your dog. If you’re in an emergency situation and have a product with natural ingredients, you may be able to get away with it once, but why risk it? Human products are simply not made with your furbaby’s safety in mind. However, you may be able to use some household items to create homemade dry shampoo when you’re in a bind.

How Do I Make Homemade Dry Shampoo For My Dog? 

For regular bathing, you can’t replace traditional formulas with water and lather. But sometimes you’re in a hurry and need to remove dirt and freshen up your pup’s coat. Rather than reaching for a human dry shampoo that isn’t safe for dogs, you can make your own at home. Mix some simple ingredients together and keep it in a sprinkle jar for those times when your pup needs a quick, waterless cleaning. 

Here’s one recipe you can try:

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ½ cup table salt or cornmeal
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and put them in a container with a shaker top(like a parmesan cheese jar) and lid. Add essential oil and shake the container vigorously to disperse throughout the mixture.

When your pooch needs a quick cleanup, sprinkle the mixture over the coat and massage it into your dog’s hair. Brush your pooch thoroughly to remove the mixture along with oil, dirt, and debris.

When you need to clean your dog in a hurry, you may need to dispense with the full bath and use a dry shampoo option. Because human products aren’t really safe to use on your dog, it’s wise to make some homemade cleaner for your dog using some common household materials.

The Final Woof

Like regular human shampoo, dry shampoo that’s formulated for people is rarely safe to use on your dogs because canine skin is not the same as human skin. With a different pH and greater sensitivity, dog skin can react to ingredients in human dry shampoo. 

If you’re in an emergency situation where you need to clean your dog but don’t have time to wet, lather, and rinse, you may benefit from a dry shampoo. In such cases, it’s best to use a shampoo that’s specially formulated for dogs or to make homemade dry shampoo. 

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

Leave a Comment