Puppy Vs Dog Shampoo

One of the responsibilities you take on when you adopt a puppy is to ensure they get everything they need to stay healthy and happy. For example, nutritious puppy chow, snacks, and treats are essential so that your pupper develops into a healthy adult dog.

There are many other factors to consider regarding your new puppy’s health. Of course, they need lots of exercise, so they don’t become lethargic and overweight. They also need (or, more accurately, demand) plenty of attention, and the need for proper socialization is also high.

One critical factor you also need to consider when you adopt is how to ensure your puppy stays clean. Let’s be honest; the last thing you need is a stinky, filthy puppy running all over your house. Knowing this, it becomes clear that you’ll need to purchase a high-quality puppy shampoo to give your pup a bath occasionally.

I was thinking about this very thing the other day as I helped my neighbor make a list of all the items he needed for the arrival of his new puppy. As you might imagine, he was asking all sorts of questions, and one was a question I hear frequently; Puppy vs. dog shampoo, which is better, and what’s the difference?

The answer is that puppy shampoo, generally speaking, is formulated differently to be more gentle on a puppy’s more delicate and sensitive skin. Most puppy shampoos are also made with natural ingredients (although not all of them) and are formulated to be less painful if it gets in their eyes.

Going further, the typical puppy shampoo will be manufactured with more mild cleansers to protect their skin and, in most cases, won’t use any artificial scents, either. (They can cause an allergic reaction in some puppies.) Also, they won’t have harsh chemicals that prevent ticks and fleas.

Now that you know the difference between puppy vs. dog shampoo, I’m betting you have more questions about what shampoos are OK to bathe your precious pup. For example, what to look for in a good puppy shampoo, and can human shampoo be used on your precocious pupper? For the answers to those questions, several others, and some real-world advice, read on!

Can you Use Dog Shampoo on a Puppy? 

Here’s the thing; the typical dog shampoo, like puppy shampoos, is made with less harsh ingredients to be more gentle on their skin. As with puppy shampoos, not all dog shampoos are formulated this way. Still, many are because many dogs do have skin sensitivity.

So, yes, you can use dog shampoo on a puppy, but make sure that you purchase one made with natural ingredients and formulated to be gentle. A medicated dog shampoo for fleas, for example, should never be used on a puppy because of the harsh chemicals found in these types of shampoo.

What Age can Puppies use Dog Shampoo? 

Dog experts and veterinarians recommend that you don’t bathe your puppy until they are at least 4 weeks of age. As for when to use dog shampoo, if you find one that’s gentle, with natural ingredients and no added (artificial) fragrances, you can start at about 12 weeks. 

Speaking of 12 weeks, one thing to keep in mind about puppies is that no matter the shampoo, they really don’t need a bath at all until they’re about that age. Before then, bathing them with a washcloth and warm water will be just fine. Frankly, if their mom is around, you won’t need to wash them at all because she will do it with her tongue. 

Also, unless your puppy has gotten into something truly stinky or nasty, the only places you need to wash are their abdomen (belly) and their rectum and anus (i.e., their butthole). Gently cleansing with a cloth around their eyes is also a good idea if they need it. Besides those areas, however, puppies don’t need much else to be washed.

Lastly, if you see a dog shampoo that says “not for use on puppies,” please follow the bottle’s advice. Most likely, the shampoo is medicated and too harsh for a puppy’s skin, especially anti-flea and tick shampoos.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on a Puppy?

Technically, yes, you can use human shampoo on a puppy, but it’s not recommended. Puppies and dogs have different pH levels in their hair and skin, and using human shampoo can dry both out badly and cause them to itch like crazy. 

If you’re out of options and need to bathe them right away (maybe they rolled in poop or some other nastiness), using a baby-formulated, no-tears human shampoo will be OK, but as a habit, it’s, again, not recommended. 

What to Look for in a Good Puppy Shampoo

Cesar Millan, the famous “dog whisperer,” suggests that you keep it simple and natural when searching for a good puppy shampoo. A good start is a puppy shampoo formulated with natural ingredients like oatmeal, citrus extracts, and vitamins. One that contains aloe vera and protein is also recommended. Lastly, look for a shampoo that promises no tears (just like baby shampoo).

Speaking of what to look for, there’s also the question of what to look out for when purchasing puppy shampoo. Some of the ingredients that should never be in your puppy’s shampoo include:

  • Mineral oils
  • Parabens 
  • Artificial fragrances, dyes, and Colors
  • Any ingredient with “sulfate” in the name, Including sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate.
  • Isothiazolinones
  • Bronopol.
  • Diazolidinyl urea.
  • DMDM or DHDH hydantoin.
  • Imidazolidinyl urea.
  • Quaternium-7, -15, -31, or -61.
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.
  • Formaldehyde
  • Sodium chloride

I’m out of Dog Shampoo – What Can I Use?

If, for whatever reason, your puppy needs a bath immediately and you don’t have a suitable puppy shampoo at home, there are several options you can use to clean them up. 

As we’ve already discussed, human shampoo for adults is not a great idea, at least not for long-term use. (Some people would argue it’s not suitable for short-term use, either, because it will dry out their skin even after one use.) 

Below are several products most people already have at home. They all will make an OK substitute until you can purchase a high-quality puppy shampoo. They include:

  • Original Formula Dawn Dish soap- The original formula is recommended as it doesn’t have any fragrances are harsh additives. Also, you can bet that any shampoo used to help rescue wildlife after an oil spill is okay for your pup. Experts suggest mixing two cups of water, a quarter cup of Dawn dish soap, and a half cup of white vinegar.
  • Human baby shampoo. While not formulated for puppies, baby shampoo is a good option if you don’t have anything else at home because it’s formulated to be gentle. However, you should still purchase puppy shampoo as quickly as possible.
  • Baby wipes. A baby wipe is often the perfect solution if they’ve gotten into mud or something stinky but don’t need a full bath.
  • Baking soda. Yep, good old-fashioned bicarbonate of soda is an excellent alternative for bathing your puppy. It leaves your pup smelling fresh and clean because it pulls odors from their coat. It also nicely washes away most dirt, grime, and other crud. Veterinarians recommend mixing a cup of raw oatmeal with a half cup of baking soda and 4 cups of water.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, when it comes to puppy vs. dog shampoo, you should always stick to a specially formulated puppy shampoo for your precious pup. Adult dog shampoo and human shampoo are problematic for a puppy due to their sensitive skin and eyes. However, in a pinch, human baby shampoo works well.

Did you find the answers you were looking for in today’s blog? I hope you did and that you now know a lot more about puppy shampoo and dog shampoo than you did earlier. If you have more questions or want to learn more about becoming a fantastic puppy parent, please see my other blogs. They’re filled with real-world information that will help you raise your puppy into a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted dog.