Have you ever looked at a bottle of your detergent while washing dishes and wondered, “Hmm, can I wash my dog with that?”
It could be that you’re trying to save a few bucks since detergent is typically cheaper than many pet shampoos. Perhaps you’re out of dog shampoo and your dog is in desperate need of a bath right away.
Or maybe you just want to avoid the clutter of multiple cleaning products and want an all-purpose cleaner that works on both pets and dishes.
But is it really safe to use Palmolive to wash your dog?
The answer is, technically yes – it will work in a pinch. However, it’s not advisable to use dish detergent as your regular dog shampoo for several reasons.
In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about what you should or shouldn’t use when bathing your furry friend.
Is Dish Soap Like Palmolive or Dawn Toxic for Pets?
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While it won’t hurt to bathe your dog in dish soap once or twice, regularly using dish detergent instead of dog shampoo isn’t the best idea.
First of all, dish detergent is designed to cut through grease. You may think this makes it ideal for washing oils out of fur, but the chemicals in dish soaps are much too harsh for regular use.
With continued use, or even after just one washing for some dogs, it will dry out their skin and coat. This can lead to uncomfortable itching and flaking, as well as an overproduction of oil that will require more frequent baths.
Second, Palmolive and many other dish soaps contain alcohol, dyes, fragrance, and lots of other chemicals that aren’t good for your dog.
Not only are they damaging to his skin and coat, but when he licks himself (which he’s more likely to do if he feels itchy from the harsh soap), he ingests traces of these chemicals.
As a matter of fact, on their website, Palmolive warns that their dishwashing liquids aren’t recommended for bathing or shampooing.
Why Do People Still Use Palmolive to Wash Their Dog?
Perhaps you’ve seen images of people using dish detergent to clean ducks and other animals that were affected by oil spills. In this case, it makes sense to use dish soap for a one-time wash to cut through heavy, thick oil.
Some people use dish soap to bathe their dogs simply because it’s convenient, inexpensive, and easily found in the kitchen.
Others use Palmolive or other detergents because they’ve heard it kills fleas. It’s true that dish soap destroys the exoskeletons of fleas, so it can kill adult fleas that are living in your dog’s coat.
It’s not effective as an ongoing flea treatment, though, because it does nothing to prevent or repel fleas and may not kill their eggs.
Plus, there are plenty of natural flea shampoos on the market that don’t have the harmful ingredients found in dish detergent.
One case where it might be alright to use dish detergent instead of dog shampoo is if your dog was sprayed by a skunk.
Skunk spray is oily and may cling to the dog’s fur, so using a small amount of dish soap followed up by his regular dog shampoo can help cut through the skunk oil and remove the odor.
Hopefully, this is a rare occurrence, as you don’t want to continuously use detergent on your pet.
What Can I Wash My Dog With If I Don’t Have Dog Shampoo?
While shampoo formulated for dogs is the best option, there may be times when your pup needs a bath right away and there’s no dog shampoo handy.
In this case, there are a few alternatives that are better for your dog than dish soap:
Water: Obviously, you can rinse your dog with just plain water, but you’ll need something else to really remove oils and odors that accumulate in his coat.
Coconut Oil: This is a great option because it soothes and moisturizes your dog’s skin, removes dirt, and makes his coat shine. Simply rinse him with water, then lather a dollop of coconut oil onto his fur (make sure he’s completely covered) and rinse again.
Castile Soap: This is another good alternative to dog shampoo. Unlike dish soap, castile soap is vegetable-based, all-natural, and won’t dry out your dog’s skin. To stay safe, go with the unscented version, and be careful not to get it in your dog’s eyes or nose.
Baby Shampoo: This one also works in a pinch because it’s gentler than regular shampoo and certainly doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals in dish soap.
How to Make a Homemade Dog Shampoo?
If you want to whip up a simple alternative to dog shampoo at home, combine:
- half a cup of water
- a fourth of a cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- a fourth cup of baby shampoo
- and a tablespoon of baking soda.
Lather and rinse your dog with the mixture just as you would with dog shampoo.
You can even wash your dog without water by giving him a baking soda dry bath, but you’ll want to do this outside since the baking soda can get messy.
Use about a cup of baking soda for a larger dog and a half cup for a smaller dog. Sprinkle the baking soda all over your dog’s fur and rub it using your hands.
This should be comfortable and relaxing for your dog, like you’re petting and gently scratching him all over.
Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes to absorb the oils and odors. Your dog doesn’t need to hold still during this time, but again, it’s best to keep him outside as the baking soda shakes off.
After a few minutes, thoroughly brush your dog’s coat to remove the baking soda leftovers.