Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats? Is it Dangerous?

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats

Cat owners often make this mistake; they bathe their cat with almost everything like baby soap, dish soap, or even dog shampoo.

If you have both cat and dog, and you want to bathe your cat but, cat-specific shampoo is not available at the moment, you might think of using dog shampoo as they both are animal, right?

No, you should do that; cat’s skin is much more delicate; often, bathing them with the wrong product is like messing with their natural pH level. And the high amount of chemicals in these products can harm your cat’s skin, and ingesting them can lethal too.

So, can you use dog shampoo on cats?

Yes, but for emergency purposes only. Dogs have a pH of 7.5, whereas cats have a relatively lower pH of 6, but dog shampoos are pH balanced for dogs and not for cats. 

Besides, dog shampoo may contain several harsh chemicals and pesticides such as permethrin which is toxic for cats.

In this article, we will go in-depth on the topic and find out what other consequences could happen.

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Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats?

Well, it depends!

Cats and dogs both are different, so their shampoos are. These shampoos are specially made to suit the purpose of their skin, for example, pH level, roughness, and toxicity.

Cat’s skin is more delicate than dogs; hence dog-specific shampoo will irritate their skin by over-drying their skin, causing rashes, redness, shedding, swollen and other skin problems.

If you bathe your cat with a dog shampoo, she will get clean. But the sudden change to your cat’s skin can get worse as the pH level is compromised with repeated use of the wrong product.

Thus, the safest option is to use the shampoo designed for your cats rather than anything available on the house.

Can Dog Shampoo Kill Cats?

Dog shampoo has the potential to kill your cat if they contain toxic chemicals and if it gets swallowed by your feline friend.

The harmful compounds in dog shampoo can be lethal to cats. Usually, dog shampoos are high in pH level to suit their skin type.

Dog shampoo often contains selenium sulphite for the treatment of dandruff, but they are harmful to your feline friend. Selenium sulphite can cause muscle contraction, respiratory paralysis and could be fatal when it comes into the contact of an open wound or gets ingested.

Besides, avoid using a dog shampoo branded as “dog shampoo to remove fleas,” which often contains pesticides to treat fleas and ticks, which is safe for dogs but toxic for cats.

Is It Even Safe?

Well, it depends on the ingredients used in the dog shampoo.

For example, if it contains permethrin, tea tree oil, tar, or essential oil, then stay away from it; they are highly toxic for cats and can cause severe complications.

However, in an emergency, a dog shampoo can be used to bathe your cat but only when there is no other alternatives are available.

Thus, if you have both dog and cat in your house, try to purchase a shampoo labeled “for dogs and cats,” but the best one is “for cats only.”

And if you want to use dog shampoo for bathing your cat, opting for the one that has the least ingredients, fewer ingredients means less chance to cause skin or health issues.

What Happens If You Use dog Shampoo On Cats?

Cats are far different than dogs, and some of the ingredients used in dog shampoo can be extremely dangerous for cats.

Note: not all dog shampoo contains the same ingredient; some may have more chemicals while others are more organic.

What Happens If You Use dog Shampoo On Cats

Usually, dog shampoo contains one or more than one of these: permethrin, tea tree oils, selenium sulphite tar, or essential oils. 

Permethrin is a type of pesticide which can cause respiratory paralysis and muscle contraction in your cats just by inhaling this pesticide.

However, ingesting permethrin can cause hypersalivationvomitingdiarrhearespiratory stress, and tremors.

Tea tree oil contains a substance called terpenes which is toxic to cats; exposing this chemical to a cat’s skin can result in irritationrashes, and swelling on the skin.

Usually, dog shampoo contains selenium sulphite to treat dandruff, but it’s not good for cats as they dry out the skin, which may further cause skin irritation.

Essential oil is another common ingredient used in dog shampoo, which is fine for dogs but is toxic for cats. Like most household plants, the essential oil can be harmful to cats since they are extracted from plants.

It can cause mild to severe health complications depending on the plant. Some of the common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, redness, lethargy, and even death are possible. 

Lastly, tar is another harmful compound used in most branded dog shampoo, while it has several benefits for dogs. They are acidic to cats which can cause major health complications.

Why Should You Use Cat-Specific Shampoo?


Cats are biologically different than dogs; do you feed dog food to your cats? No, right? The same thing goes for shampoo.

Usually, a cat has a pH of 6, and the dog has a pH of 7.5 which means they are different in terms of pH, the thickness of the coat, and base structure.

The shampoo you purchase from the shop for your cats is specially made for them considering allergies, fur, and pH level.

Though you can use dog shampoo on cats occasionally, it can irritate cat’s skin by drying out the skin, resulting; redness, rashes, and even promote parasites.

Besides, it would be best if you never use flea shampoo or shampoo containing permethrinon your cats.Permethrin is toxic, and flea shampoo often consists of insecticide to remove the flea from dogs, but it’s poisonous and can harm felines in many ways.

Ingesting a sufficient amount of dog shampoo could result in vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hypersalivation, or stress. Or, if your cat has any open wounds or sore, bathing with permethrin shampoo can be dangerous.

However, you can use dog shampoo if it doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, and you can check it on their back.

Some brands make shampoos with the label “for all pets,” “for cats only,” or “for cats and dogs.

What Can I Use Instead of Cat Shampoo?

Cats don’t really need to be bathing, they are self groomers, and they groom themselves quite efficiently.

However, if your cat is sick, or rolled on something they can’t wash themselves by licking, consider bathing them. To bathe your cat, you will need a large tub, warm water, a towel, and a teaspoon of cat shampoo.

What Can I Use Instead of Cat Shampoo

But, you may not always have specialized cat shampoo for a specific reason, but don’t worry, you can always use organic alternatives. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

A solution of apple cider vinegar and water can be used as an alternative to cat shampoo. It’s safe for cats and dogs; it will kill any bacteria on their skin without harsh chemicals.

Just, bathe your cat with this solution, then rinse properly with warm water and then pat dry with a towel.

Baby Shampoo

Unlike regular shampoo, baby shampoo is much milder on the skin and has no harmful chemicals as it’s made for babies. They are more suitable for your cat’s delicate fur without being too harmful on their skin.

Use a pinch amount of baby shampoo for bathing your cat and rinsing your cat as you would do with the usual cat shampoo.

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are great alternatives to clean the dirt off your cats. These wipes can be used to clean a specific spot or a small strain where your cat is unable to reach.

When using baby wipes, ensure that it doesn’t contain any fragrance or harmful chemicals that might irritate your cat’s skin.

Plain Water

There is nothing better than using normal tab water to clean your little furball. If your cat is rolled in mud, it can be easily eliminated by just water. If the dirt is located in some small area, you should only use warm water to clean the affected area.

Dog Shampoo

Dog shampoo can be used as a substitute if there is no other alternatives are available. But ensure that it doesn’t consist of any toxic or harmful compound such as permethrin.

Cat’s skin is much gentle than a dog’s; regular use of dog shampoo on your feline can cause irritating on their skin, may raise shedding, or may cause allergies.

However, if you are using any of the alternatives, ensure that you rinse your cat thoroughly; otherwise, there are chances that they may ingest it while they were grooming themselves with their sharp tongue.

Still, always opt for shampoo specially made for cats. These shampoos keep your feline calm while bathing, clean their soft fur, and fight flea problems.

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Kittens?

Kitten’s skin is more delicate and soft than an adult cat, and dog shampoo pH is balanced for dogs and often has harsh chemicals suitable for dogs, but it can cause skin issues if used on a kitten.

Some dog shampoo contains permethrin, which is poisonous to cats. If your kitten has wounds and it gets into contact with this pesticide, it can affect your cat badly. Or, if your kitten ingests it during the bath, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, respiratory stress, tremors and could be fatal in severe cases.

Final Thoughts

To make it simple. Dog shampoo can be used to bathe a cat for emergency purposes. Yet, I don’t’ recommend using dog shampoo or product isn’t labeled as “cat”

However, if you opt for dog shampoo, ensure that you go through the ingredient list, read the instruction, and follow them.

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