Can You Use Dog Shampoo on Cats?

No, it is not generally recommended you use dog shampoo on your cat. However, if a cat does not have sensitive skin, a single bath with a mild shampoo for dogs is unlikely to cause problems.

Dog shampoos are made specifically for dogs and may contain ingredients that are harmful to cats. Such ingredients are essential oils and insecticides. They are safe for dogs but not cats.

Plus, dog shampoos are made for different skin pH levels. If used on cats regularly, they can disrupt the production of natural oils and cause dry skin, dandruff, and an increased risk of skin infections.

What is the Difference Between a Cat’s Skin and a Dog’s Skin?

The cat skin differs from the dog skin in its thickness and pH level. Namely, cat skin is much thinner and more acidic than dog skin. The short answer is a cat’s skin is simply more sensitive than a dog’s.

So, although the dog’s and cat’s skin serve the same purpose, they are not the same and cannot be bathed with the same products. Namely, if cat owners use shampoos made for dogs, chemicals can easily get absorbed through the skin. Plus, the dog shampoo can dry the cat’s skin.

What is the Difference Between Cat Shampoo and Dog Shampoo?

The main difference between cat and dog shampoos is the formulation – cat shampoos are made for more acidic skin pH levels while dog grooming products often feature ingredients that can be harmful to cats.

For example, the dog shampoo may contain tea tree oil which has antibacterial, antifungal and skin-soothing features. However, this essential oil is toxic to cats.

Also, dog flea shampoos are formulated with permethrin. Permethrin is a highly toxic ingredient for cats. The cat does not have to lick the shampoo – skin absorption is enough to cause intoxication.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo - Vanilla and Almond Scent
  • Help combat skin irritation, promote healing, and re-moisturize sensitive, dry skin.
  • Soap free and pH-balanced to clean and deodorize safely and thoroughly.
  • Will not wash off topical flea applications and is safe for all animals over 6 weeks.

What Happens if I Use Dog Shampoo on My Cat?

What happens if you use dog shampoo for a cat bath depends on the exact shampoo formula and the frequency of use.

For example, I can bathe my cat with a mild dog shampoo made with natural ingredients and be on the safe side. However, if using a medicated shampoo or flea shampoo, there is a risk of ending up in the emergency room.

If it is cat bath time and you do not have a cat-specific shampoo on hand, it is advisable to consult with the vet before using a dog shampoo or an alternative like human shampoo/baby shampoo.

There are also some DIY wet and dry shampoo options for cats with common household items like dish detergents (Dawn dish soap), castile soap, baking soda, etc.

Is There Shampoo for Both Dogs and Cats?

Yes, there is shampoo for both cats and dogs. In fact, there are many pet shampoos that are safe for both dogs and cats. So, if you have a cat and a dog, it is a good idea to get a pet shampoo. We have made a list of some of the best products.

Earthbath Oatmeal Aloe Pet Shampoo vanilla and almond scent

Summary: Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo is great for dogs and cats as it is made with natural ingredients that promote healthy skin and coats. The shampoo is soothing and suitable for pets with sensitive skin. It is safe to use on pets over 6 weeks of age and does not wash off topical flea and tick treatments. The shampoo comes at an affordable price and in an easy-to-use bottle.

Shampoo Scent: Vanilla and almond

Key Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, plant-derived, and coconut-based cleansers, aloe vera

  • Helps relieve itching, rashes, and dry skin
  • Prevents dandruff and conditions the cat’s fur
  • Cruelty-free manufacturing
  • 100% biodegradable, eco-friendly product
  • Made in the USA with a 100% money-back guarantee
  • The scent may be too strong for some users

Review: With over 5,000 reviews, this product is highly rated as one of the best pet shampoos on the market. However, some consumers were displeased with the strength of the vanilla and almond scent.

Pet Oatmeal Anti Itch Shampoo Conditioner

Summary: Made with a comprehensive formula to provide instant itch relief Pet Oatmeal Anti-itch Shampoo & Conditioner is a safe and effective soothing shampoo for cats and dogs. The shampoo features baking soda that deodorizes the dog’s and cat’s fur leaving it clean and fresh. Moisturizing and hypoallergenic, this pet shampoo is a hit among pet parents.

Shampoo Scent: Oatmeal cookie

Key Ingredients: Oatmeal, baking soda, aloe vera

  • Comprehensive anti-itch, tearless formula
  • Vet-endorsed and hypoallergenic shampoo
  • Free from harmful ingredients and irritants
  • Can be used as a kitten and puppy shampoo
  • Lifetime money-back guarantee
  • Unclear ingredient list may cause confusion among consumers

Review: Thousands of reviews rate this product positively on Amazon. Consumers note satisfaction with the results of the shampoo and the gentle formula. Some pet owners expressed concern over the vague list of ingredients.

John Paul Oatmeal Shampoo for Cats

Summary: Created by the co-founder and CEO of Paul Mitchell, this shampoo uses hydrolyzed oat protein, aloe, and chamomile to clean and moisturize your pet’s fur. The mild formula does a great job at soothing and deodorizing too. With oatmeal and almond, the shampoo leaves pets smelling fresh and clean for quite some time after the bath.

Shampoo Scent: Almond

Key Ingredients: Sodium laureth sulfate, oat proteins, sweet almond oil, aloe leaf juice, chamomile

  • Formulated with premium quality ingredients
  • Soothes, moisturizes, and relaxes
  • Recommended by groomers
  • Made in the USA with cruelty-free practices
  • The brand supports donations to animal causes
  • Not a sulfate-free formula (irritating ingredient)

Review: Reviewers noted positive results of this oatmeal shampoo on their pet’s skin and are even satisfied with the almond scent. However, several cat owners of long-haired cat breeds state sub-par results and claim it gave their cats skin irritation.

Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo for Cats

Summary: Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats is a fast-acting treatment for both animals which uses natural insecticides and skin moisturizing ingredients to promote your dog and cat’s health. The formula is free from soaps and parabens and is safe to use on pets older than 12 weeks of age. In addition to managing pests, it also cleans and exfoliates.

Shampoo Scent: Unscented

Key Ingredients: Pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, and N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide

  • Maximum flea and tick control
  • Soap-free and paraben-free
  • pH balanced for both dogs and cats
  • Fast-acting, effective, and affordable
  • Great price per ounce
  • The viscosity of shampoo is thinner than expected

Review: With over 10,000 reviews on Amazon, this shampoo is highly revered as one of the best shampoo flea treatments on the market. While the majority of pet owners rate this product highly, some were disappointed by the thin formula and stated it was “basically water.”

TropiClean Shampoo for Pets

Summary: TropiClean Shampoo for Pets is a tropically scented shampoo safe for both cats and dogs with a formula free of soaps, parabens, and dyes. The formula effectively deodorizes while replenishing the natural moisture of the pet’s skin. It is made in the USA with natural ingredients and is safe to use on pets over 12 weeks of age.

Shampoo Scent: Coconut & aloe

Key Ingredients: Mild coconut cleanser, Sodium Chloride, and Colloidal Oatmeal

  • Effectively deodorizing tropical scent
  • Made with pet-safe, natural ingredients
  • Free of soaps, parabens, and harsh chemicals
  • Comes in a spill-resistant bottle with a cap and seal
  • Budget-friendly priced and made in the USA
  • Some users dislike the scent of the shampoo

Review: While the vast majority of customers expressed satisfaction with this product, a small number complained about the scent. The group of satisfied pet owners was pleased with the scent and its long-lasting effect.