You Shouldn’t Bathe Your Dog in Dove Soap, This Is Why

You cannot use Dove soap to bathe your dog because:

  • It has a pH neutral formulation to suit human skin
  • A dog’s skin has a higher pH than human skin
  • It removes essential oils from your dog’s skin
  • It increases the chance of itching
  • Some ingredients are potentially harmful if ingested by a dog

If your dog gets dirty, the best way to get them clean again is to bathe them. My dog, a Bichon Frise called Freya, has a bath every two or three weeks. She loves exploring, i.e. walking through muddy puddles, whenever she gets the chance.

You’re probably aware of the huge range of dog grooming products available on the market today. The products are formulated to suit dogs.

But suppose you’ve run out of your dog’s shampoo? The only thing to hand is a bar of Dove soap. This is a mild soap. Is it suitable for bathing your dog – even if just this once?

I’ve looked at this topic as I was curious to know the answer. If you want to know whether you could safely use Dove soap on your dog’s fur, I’ve got all the information you need here.


You Should Not Use Dove Soap on Dogs

I love Dove soap because it is moisturizing. I’ve found other brands of soap too harsh for my skin. Their website confirms Dove is pH neutral. My skin loves this because they created the bar for human skin.

However, I wouldn’t use Dove soap on Freya. My research revealed the pH level of a dog’s skin is higher than that of you or me. The bar works well for us, but it would not work well for Freya.

The American Kennel Club says the pH range of human skin is between 5.5 and 5.6. Your dog’s pH range starts at 6.2, and it can reach as high as 7.4. That’s a major difference.

Dove produces a sensitive skin bar too. You could feel tempted to use that instead. However, you’ll see it has many ingredients that are unsuitable for dogs.

You don’t need moisturizer for your dog’s skin. You’ll find it hard to wash off, and it could create problems.

Even if you only use it once, your dog could lick their fur afterward and lick off some of the residue from the bar if it is still on there. You may not be able to see it.

Staying away from human soap and Dove bars is always best for your pooch.


Dove Soap Removes Oils from Your Dog’s Skin

A dog has natural oils in their skin that protect it. Take those oils away, and your dog is more likely to start scratching. While their fur will replace the oils, it doesn’t happen straightaway.

Your dog could potentially become ill if you use human soaps, and if they lick their fur during bath time. It might also cause skin irritation because dogs are not the intended audience for the product.


Steer Clear of Products with a Harmful pH Value

This applies to many human soaps and shampoos when used on dogs. A dog’s skin is more alkaline than ours.

So, using Dove or anything else with a lower pH value means you are putting something more acidic on your dog’s skin. Their skin requires something more alkaline. This is the simple reason why you should not use a product intended for humans rather than dogs.


You Can Use Certain Types of Bar Soap

Be careful, though. I would only do this at a push if Freya were incredibly dirty,  muddy and I had run out of her regular dog shampoo. Even then, I’d only use something else if I had something that was suitable.

During my research, I read an article that highlighted natural soaps with no nasty ingredients in them. The writer had checked with a veterinarian before recommending them.

This is the best bit of advice. If you are considering washing your dog with bar soap, whether from Dove or another brand, check with your vet. They know your dog. They know whether they have any skin or medical conditions that could influence their recommendations.

Natural soaps made with charcoal or pine tar work well for dogs. It might be worth considering if you want an alternative to Dove soap or regular dog shampoo.


Anything You Use Must Be Non-Toxic to Dogs

I would recommend checking the list of ingredients before you use anything. If in doubt, do not use it. Many ingredients in human soap bars are unpronounceable!  It means they’re unlikely to be good for your dog.


You Can Try a Homemade Dog Shampoo Instead

I found a few homemade recipes for dog shampoo you might use as an alternative to a human bar if you’ve got nothing in your home to use.

I found this basic recipe on many sites. Mix these three ingredients together ahead of bath time:

  1. 2 cups of warm water
  2. ½ cup of white vinegar
  3. ¼ cup non-scented and non-toxic basic dish soap (there are many eco brands that fit this category)

Mix well and decant into a spray bottle for easy use. You can also use a clean empty bottle with a screw lid. Just pour some onto your dog’s fur when wet.

Make sure you keep any products (homemade or otherwise) away from your dog’s eyes and ears. Wash off thoroughly, and your dog should end up much cleaner.


Wash Your Dog Without Products If Necessary

So, what if you’re not keen on mixing up a homemade solution. You don’t have any dog shampoo and you know you can’t use Dove soap.

If your dog is dirty enough to need a bath now, you can still bathe them – just without any products.

I did this once when I took Freya on a walking holiday with me and forgot to pack her shampoo. (In my defense, I forgot to pack mine too! I don’t know what I was thinking.)

Warm water directed from the top of her coat down her sides worked well to get out all the dried mud she had brought back to the cabin with her. A lot floats out easily like this if you use a shower hose. If you don’t have one, use a plastic jug instead.


You Can Brush Out Lots of Dirt

I remember taking Freya on a hike once. It had been raining and she was having lots of fun in all the mud puddles. She makes a beeline for them and nothing can stop her getting down and dirty!

I remember looking at her and thinking only a bath would get her clean. By the time we got back, the mud had dried. I brushed her outside and 90% of it came off right there. Far easier than trying to get rid of it all in the bath.

This was the time I forgot to pack the shampoo. As we were going out again later that day, I didn’t bath her until we got back the second time.

That’s another tip – does your dog need a bath if all you can lay your hands on are human-targeted products? It’s better to wait until you have a suitable dog-friendly product. Brush out whatever you can and give them a warm water bath with no products if you need some more help to get rid of the dirt.


Buy a Proper Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

The marketplace is full of products intended for dogs. These have the required pH values within the acceptable range for a dog’s skin.

I tend to buy a double pack online as it is usually better value. When I finish one bottle and open the last one, I place an order to replace it. It’s the best way to be sure I don’t run out.

Some manufacturers create bar soaps for dogs. These are like shampoo in a bar. They are ideal for packing in a bag and taking on a trip. I might consider this instead of taking two bottles of shampoo and conditioner with me, for example.


Always Do Your Research

I wanted to mention this before closing the article. I found a lot of Q&A-style sites online where people asked about bathing their dog with Dove soap or something similar. Some people responded saying yes it was fine because it was pH neutral.

We know that it is not fine to use Dove soap. I found out through research on reliable sites.

Always use dog-friendly products. You’d be surprised how much dirt and grime you can get out of your dog’s fur just with warm water. You should resort to this if your dog needs a bath and you cannot wait until some more dog shampoo arrives. Safety first!


Writer: Allison Whitehead

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