Can You Use Head And Shoulders On Dogs? (Explained)

Can You Use Head And Shoulders On Dogs? Photo of a dog with a towel on its head after a shower.

You want to help keep your dog’s coat glossy and dandruff-free, right? This makes many reach for a bottle of dependable Head And Shoulders when the flakiness starts. Bu, can you use head and shoulders on dogs? Here’s what you should know.

No, you should not use Head And Shoulders shampoo on dogs as a regular choice for their bath. Formulated for humans, it contains chemicals that are not safe for dogs. They can change a dog’s natural skin pH and leave dogs with dry and itchy skin.

Some experts agree that a little bit of it can be helpful from time to time when treating particular conditions, though. It depends on the dog, their health, and how you use it.

Learn all about its ins and outs below!

Is it bad to use Head and Shoulders on my dog?

If you rely on Head and Shoulders as a replacement for your dog’s normal and natural shampoo, this is not a good thing. This kind of shampoo is effective in small doses and only for specific treatment plans.

When used in small amounts and with the advice and recommendations of your vet factored in, it can be a good choice to help your dog recover from some skin conditions, as we’ll talk about later below.

The thing about regular versus targeted use is understanding what makes it safe for one rather than the other: the pH level.

A dog’s pH naturally sits between 6.5 to 7.5. This is healthy and is responsible for helping their skin stay hydrated but balanced correctly for their own protection. A human’s pH level is lower, and human shampoo would have around 5.5 for its pH level.

This can throw off your dog’s natural level and create skin conditions in otherwise healthy skin. The keywords here, of course, are “otherwise healthy.” 

If your dog is simply in need of regular shampoo to help him freshen up, Head and Shoulders shouldn’t be your go-to!

The other thing is the use of the active ingredient called pyrithione zinc. This is what makes it work so effectively in humans for dandruff treatment. It is strong enough to be effective in humans, but it would be too strong for a dog’s sensitive skin. This worsens the reaction when combined with the difference in pH level.

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How often can I use Head and Shoulders on my dog?

So, what are the actual numbers to think about when using Head and Shoulders with your dog? If you are treating your dog for a specific condition (more on that next), you can use Head and Shoulders up to 3 times a week. Anything more runs the risk of causing more irritation to your dog’s skin. Less is fine, too, since it won’t stress the skin quite as much!

Can I use Head and Shoulders for a dog’s allergies?

If your dog is dealing with allergies, Head and Shoulders isn’t often recommended. Most dog allergies will present in hives or rashes, and these are treated with prescription products designed to help your dog recover. Going with an allergy-based salve or medication will be safer.

The main reason for this is that a rash or a hive is an immune system response that is showing up as a rash or a hive. Treating the rash won’t treat the underlying problem — the allergy.

The other reason to bypass the Head and Shoulders is that the hives or rash automatically weaken the skin. This means more absorption and possible reaction. This reaction could be to the ingredients or even just in further worsened skin issues! This is the exact option of what you’re going for.

Can I use Head and Shoulders for a dog’s yeast problem?

This is one of the recommended uses for Head and Shoulders shampoo for dogs! A yeast problem can quickly become complicated and hard to tackle without long-term prescription products. So, when you notice a yeast issue starting to brew, talk to your vet about treating it with this shampoo.

Its active ingredient is both antifungal and antibacterial. This effectively stops yeast growth and helps relieve the dried-out and irritated skin. This will help your dog keep from scratching and “cure the problem” as its source.

From there, you can look at a dog-aimed product, or your vet may recommend a few space-out baths with Head and Shoulders. 

Can I use Head and Shoulders for a dog’s flea treatment?

The other use for Head and Shoulders is a flea treatment for dogs! Fleas will get trapped in the solution, making it easier for you to wash them off from your dog and stop the infestation in its tracks. 

In addition, the pyrithione zinc also destroys the exoskeleton of these little pests, effectively killing the ones left behind and the eggs they would otherwise lay. This is often a starting treatment for those who notice a dog’s budding flea infestation. Vets will follow it up with something formulated with dogs, which is good for helping in the interim.

How do you get rid of dandruff on a dog?

The main reason that most people want to use Head and Shoulders on their dogs is for dandruff flakes. It makes sense since this is what it’s marketed for in humans!

However, getting rid of dandruff in dogs takes on a different approach than in humans. It has to do with grooming, health, bathing, and exposure to chemicals and products

Adding another product isn’t going to help with this. Dandruff treatment in dogs will require a more specific approach with dog-formulated products and a broader focus on their lifestyle. 

Is it safe to use human dandruff shampoo on dogs?

While there are targeted uses for dandruff shampoo, as discussed, you should never replace your traditional dog shampoo with a dandruff one like Head and Shoulders. It is much too harsh for regular use, and its intended use for treating dandruff adds extra harsh powers to an already harsh shampoo, as far as your dog is concerned.

What human shampoo can I use on my dog?

Human shampoos, in general, are not recommended for your dog. They are designed for human pH levels rather than a dog’s, so they are too harsh for your dog’s skin. This is the entire reason why a whole line of dog products exists!

Can I use human conditioner on dogs?

No, you should never use any kind of conditioner on your dogs. It can not only impact their pH but also coat their fur. This is what’s intended to do for humans, as extra protection from the elements. However, dogs have their fur for this, and adding a layer of greasy conditioner makes their fur unable to do its job properly. 

What can I wash my dog with if I don’t have dog shampoo?

If you don’t have any dog shampoo, the best thing you can do is call your vet and ask them for recommendations. Going with any kind of human product (even for sensitive skin) is often only recommended as a last resort with a dog’s sensitive skin. Even in that case, most will give you a way to dilute it and the best practices for how to do so. 

If you can’t get ahold of your vet, your best choice is to keep it simple and use warm water. It’ll help promote more comfort for your dog, and the last thing you want to do is worsen a problem unknowingly by using a seemingly harmless children’s shampoo that you shouldn’t. 

What to use instead of Head and Shoulders?

There are plenty of vet-approved and dog-specific brands for treating dandruff out there! You can stock up your dog product supply kit easily, and you’ll do it all knowing that you aren’t possibly messing with your dog’s delicate pH level!

What shampoo is good for dogs with dandruff?

The best shampoo for your dogs that struggle with dandruff is none. Well, not at first. You’ll need to talk to your vet to see what’s going on. Dandruff is a symptom of some more serious skin conditions. Your vet will recommend treatment and will recommend a product as well.

Since they are experienced professionals, you’re going to want to take their recommendations very seriously for your dog’s health! Don’t like their recommendation? Ask them for another one after explaining your concerns!

In conclusion

You shouldn’t use Head and Shoulders to treat dog dandruff or any other kind of condition without first talking to your vet. It’s too harsh to use as regular dog shampoo and is intended for use only in rare and short-term circumstances where it will do more harm than good due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

As convenient as it might be to consider a bottle of Head and Shoulders for your dog’s health and comfort, you should never grab it and go. Ask your vet first, and always do what they recommend, even if it’s not the answer you want to hear!

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Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.