3 Reasons to Avoid Using Dish Soap When Washing Your Dog

There is a common misconception out there that dish soap is a great alternative to use when washing your dog. The reality of this is that there are many downsides to using dish soap, and unbeknownst to you, you might be doing more damage to your dog than you realize. It’s important you understand why dish soap is so bad for your dog so you can keep them healthy.

Why Some People Recommend Dish Soap for Washing Dogs

When you are online searching recipes to get rid of fleas, one of the main ingredients you will see pop up is dish soap. Specifically, Dawn dish soap is recommended as a home remedy to help flea-infested dogs get some relief while also killing the fleas. Other people recommend dish soap because they see it being used on wildlife that were involved in an oil spill. This is one of the few correct applications for dish soap because it’s vital to get that oil removed quickly to save the animal.

1. Dish Soap May Irritate Your Dog’s Skin

One major drawback to using dish soap as your regular dog shampoo is that it’s likely to cause irritation on your dog’s skin. The fact of the matter is that dish soap will strip out the oils found in the skin and within the coat. These oils that are stripped from the skin are essential for a proper pH level.

Without these natural oils the pH level gets out of whack. The pH level is vital to your dog to prevent both allergens and bacteria, such as yeast infections. Irritation and itching is likely to occur once these oils have been removed and your dog could develop dry or flaky skin as a result.

2. Dish Soap May Remove Natural Oil from the Dog’s Skin

Dawn dish soap is great at removing oil, which is why we see it used after an oil spill in the ocean. The goal is to get off the oil as soon as possible so that the animal can be treated quickly to lessen the amount of damage to the skin. When it comes to normal circumstances, such as just giving your dog a bath, Dawn and other dish soap will remove the natural oils found on your dog’s skin.

3. It’s Not the Most Effective Solution for Killing Fleas

While Dawn dish soap in particular is named as a great solution for killing fleas, that’s not an accurate statement. There are a lot more effective options out there for killing fleas, such as flea collars you can get for your dog and medicated flea shampoos specifically designed to kill fleas. The dish soap might kill a lot of fleas when applied to the skin initially, but it doesn’t keep the fleas from coming back and often times will not kill the flea eggs. The infestation will remain as long as the eggs stay alive.

What Soap is Safe for Dogs?

The only soaps that are safe for dogs are those shampoos specifically designed for dogs. You shouldn’t use human shampoo or conditioner on your dog, and also should avoid using baby shampoo as well. These products don’t contain the right pH level needed for a dog’s skin, which is why skin irritation and severe itching will occur in many cases.

You should only purchase dog shampoos or products that are designed for dogs, such as a medicated shampoo if your dog has sensitive skin. Any product that has dyes, perfumes or other harsh chemicals in them should be avoided as this could cause a skin reaction. It’s also important you only use dog shampoos and you don’t use cat or other animal products.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • Thomas Cossey | 06/10/2020

    Thank you I didn’t know dawn dishwashing liquid can make a dog itch really bad

  • Priscilla | 25/01/2021

    This article made a lot of sense up until l got to the part about flea collars and medicated shampoo. There are many dogs dying or sick from the owners not realizing how toxic flea collars and medicated shampoos are.I use diluted Dr.Bronners sugar or castile soap on my fur babies but not the peppermint scent which is too strong and virgin coconut oil with an essential oil sometimes to deter fleas.

  • Candi | 04/03/2021

    I agree with not using Dawn as a shampoo. I never use Dawn. I also never use Flea collars, Flea meds or medicated shampoos since they have toxic chemicals in them & they’re killing furbabies. I really wish people would do extensive research & learn everything first before recommending products. I also don’t use Essential oils on my furbabies, since there’s a ton of those toxic to pets, like Tea Tree oil peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, etc. You can research Essential oils toxic to pets to get the list. Ive heard about Castile soap which I plan on researching more before using it as well as handmade soaps. I use Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade powder & organic extra virgin Coconut oil on my furbabies. I use Vets Best Flea & Tick Home Spray to spray bedding, pillows, blankets, etc. I also use Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade powder on my carpeted floor. I use a mix of Water, ACV with 2 tablespoons of Dawn Dish Soap in a spray bottle to spray my yard. We have my 4 Chihuahuas, my niece’s two furbabies & my mom’s two cats in the house & no fleas. All with using natural products.

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