Why You Shouldn't Wash Your Dogs with Dawn Dish Soap

Why You Shouldn't Wash Your Dogs with Dawn Dish Soap

When it comes to keeping your furry friends clean and healthy, reaching for the Dawn dish soap might seem like a quick and effective solution, especially considering its fame for cutting through grease and saving wildlife affected by oil spills. However, using dish soap like Dawn on your dogs can actually do more harm than good. Here’s why you should stick to shampoos specifically designed for pets.

Skin pH Levels Matter

Dogs have different skin pH levels compared to humans. While human skin is more on the acidic side, a dog’s skin is more neutral. Dish soaps, including Dawn, are formulated for human use and are often too harsh for your dog's skin. Using Dawn regularly can disrupt the natural pH balance of your dog's skin, leading to irritation, dryness, and potentially more serious skin conditions.

Potential for Irritation

Dish soaps are designed to be tough on grease and food particles, which means they contain strong detergents and chemicals that can be too harsh for a dog’s sensitive skin. Regular use of such products can strip away natural oils from their skin and fur, resulting in dry, itchy, and flaky skin. Moreover, dogs with existing skin problems or allergies could experience worsened symptoms after being washed with a product not specifically formulated for them.

According to PetMD, occasionally using Dawn in an extreme situation, like if a kitten is covered in fleas, is fine, regular use of Dawn is discouraged.

Impact on Natural Oils

Dogs produce natural oils that serve important functions, such as maintaining a healthy coat and protecting their skin. Washing your dog with Dawn or similar products can remove these essential oils. Over time, this can lead to a dull coat and increase the risk of infections and parasites due to the weakened state of the skin's protective barrier.

Long-Term Health Concerns

While Dawn is non-toxic and often used in emergency situations to clean animals affected by oil spills, it’s not meant for regular use on pets. Frequent exposure to the chemicals in dish soap can lead to more serious health issues, including possible reactions to other medications or treatments your pet might be undergoing.

The Right Choice: Pet Shampoos

Pet shampoos are specifically designed to suit the needs of your dog’s skin and fur. They are formulated to maintain the correct pH balance, minimize irritation, and enhance the health and shine of your dog’s coat. Moreover, many pet shampoos contain natural ingredients and moisturizers that help replenish and protect your dog’s skin and fur.


Although Dawn dish soap can be a lifesaver in unique, emergency situations, it’s important to use products that are specifically made for your pet's regular grooming. Investing in a high-quality dog shampoo, like our Protect Shampoo, will not only keep your pet cleaner and happier but also contribute to their overall health and well-being. So next time your dog needs a bath, make sure to reach for a pet-appropriate product that safeguards their skin while keeping them squeaky clean.

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Pet Wellness Direct does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We help pet owners to better understand their pets; however, all content on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment. If you suspect that your pet needs medical assistance, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.