Dish Soap As a Dog Shampoo?

Owner tries using a household cleaner when bathing her dogs.

By | Posted: May 3, 2015, 9 a.m. PST

Q. I have five dogs, and I regularly give them all baths, cut toenails, clean ears, etc. There is a groomer in my area that uses Dawn dish soap to wash the dogs so this is what I have been using lately. I also read in a book that you should add a small amount of dish soap to your regular dog shampoo. Have you heard of using dish soap as a shampoo? If so, is it better to use pure soap or just a small amount added to your regular dog shampoo?

dog bath 

A. You have your work cut out for you, keeping all those dogs clean! I can tell you are a devoted dog owner. I must admit I am a bit surprised that a professional dog groomer would use a detergent made for washing dishes, pots, and pans to wash dogs. There are plenty of wonderful dog shampoos on the market that are safer and more effective than dish soap. Dawn is great at cutting grease and I have even recommended it in a pinch to make up a home remedy for de-skunking dogs, but over time, it will dry them out and it lacks the proper Ph balance for canine skin and coat.

Quality dog shampoos do not contain the harsh chemicals present in household cleaning products and will safely clean, moisturize, and add sheen to your dogs’ coats. There is no need to add anything to them. Their effectiveness is the result of careful research and formulation by their manufacturers.

It is not even cost-effective for your groomer to use this household product rather than quality pet shampoos on her canine clientele. If she ordered gallons of professional shampoos by the case from one of many distributors such as PetEdge of Topsfield, MA, PetEdge, she would save money. Maybe she could add a gallon for you to her order as well, marking up her wholesale price enough to make it worth her while. You would save money while doing what’s best for your dogs.

There are dog shampoos on the market that combat doggie odor, make white coats sparkle, condition dry coats, and make long hair tangle-free, strengthen damaged coats, soothe irritated skin, combat excessive shedding, preserve wiry texture in terrier coats, and treat sensitive pets that need a hypo-allergenic tearless product.

But do hang on to your Dawn detergent in case you should ever need it for an emergency de-skunking treatment!

The home remedy is as follows: 

  • 1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 
  • 1 teaspoon Dawn dish detergent

Wet the dog and work the mixture through the coat. Leave lather on for about ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. Discard any leftover remedy as it becomes combustible when stored in a closed container.

Kathy Salzberg, NCMG, is a Certified Master Groomer and writer who has been grooming pets since 1976. With her daughter Missi, she owns The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. She has also written extensively on pet care for several consumer magazines and authored three books on dogs and careers with pets. Kathy lives with her pets on Cape Cod.

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Debra   Ocala, Florida

10/6/2015 9:31:48 PM

I am also having bad reactions to bathing my dog in dawn. He now has massive hotspots and they even had drainage:( I used it on my 11 yr old Dane that got fleas from a rescue dog that came home with fleas. But I also learned today that because my Dane likes to lay on the ground outside he might be experiencing allergies . We recently moved to Central Florida and live with a lot of wooded area and allergy season here is severe so I think it's partly due to that

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Rick   Keaau, Hawaii

9/6/2015 4:18:19 AM

Sorry, but this info is wrong. Other dish soaps yes, but Dawn is the only one that does not include concrete cleaner. Mant pet shampoos do as it creates lather, and strips the oils. Dawn dish detergent is the ONLY soap approved for use by the avian society. If it's genial enough foe feathers it is for dogs. It is also the best flea killer on the market as it suffocates them.

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Maggie   Atlanta, Georgia

8/16/2015 9:58:32 AM

No. I used it to kill fleas on my dog, and it did a great job at killing the fleas, but my dog now has dry and itchy skin and hot spots as a result of being bathed in Dawn (she has never had dry skin and is 11-years-old). I used JP oatmeal shampoo for dogs from Target last week and the itching has gone down but I am still having to treat the hot spots. DO NOT USE IT - look for other alternatives to killing fleas.

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Sandra   laceyville, Pennsylvania

8/5/2015 10:31:20 AM

our vet tells us to use Dawn. It is less harsh then flea
I had a dog who had skin allergies and Dawn was all I could use on her, without having issues. So, I will continue to use it.

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