Can I Use Human Conditioner on My Dog?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Dogs' hair and skin have completely different chemical compositions from humans so using human conditioner on them isn't recommended. “​​Dogs and humans have different pH (natural acid oil balance)” Campbell said. “Using human products on dogs can cause irritation and a natural pH imbalance.”

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Can I Use Human Conditioner on My Dog?“.

Is your dog scratching so much that you feel like tearing out your hair?

Could it be that you are tired of tangles and mats in the coat of your dog?

Wouldnot it be wonderful if when you use human conditioner all of your problems would disappear and your dogs coat would be comparable to a supermodels?

In this case I recommend that you do not use a human conditioner on your dog for the reasons I will outline in this article.

The first thing I would like to discuss is why your dogs hair might need conditioning in the first place.

Why does dog hair need conditioning?

At first glance conditioner appears to be used only for softening and shinier hair. But conditioner has other uses as well. As with human shampoos dog shampoos can also strip too much natural oil from hair leaving it overly dry. The conditioner restores moisture to the dogs fur as its name implies.

Conditioner is good not only for the fur on dogs but it also nourishes their skin as they have hair all over their bodies. Moreover the conditioner facilitates the shedding process by making it easier for the shed fur to slip off preventing knots.

On the other hand dog shampoo alone should in most cases be sufficient for dog grooming especially if the product is already mild and non-irritating. However there are certain breeds and conditions that call for the conditioner to be used on dogs.

What is the difference between shampoo and conditioner?

The primary purpose of shampoo is to remove dirt from hair. As a result shampoo usually does not have many nutrients inside.

A conditioner on the other hand softens the hair cuticles and closes them up allowing the hair shaft to trap more moisture.

Hence conditioners work by retaining moisture from the inside while shampoos work by cleansing from the outside. Conditioners also contain a higher concentration of nutrients than most shampoo.

What type of dog are most in need of conditioning?

Dogs with Dry or Dull Coat

A dog conditioners primary function is to keep the coat and skin of the dog moisturized. Using conditioner to help your dogs hair retain moisture will help your dogs coat look better if it appears dry or dull.

Winter tends to dry out the fur on dogs. You can give your dog conditioner only in winter if their skin gets dry in colder weather. 

Dogs with Long Coats

Hair that is longer is more prone to getting tangled. If you pull your dogs hair a lot to detangle it your beloved dog is likely to be uncomfortable or even in pain. Conditioning helps to detangle hair faster and makes the process less painful. Furthermore it helps maintain the softness of the fur even after it has dried making brushing more convenient.

Dogs Who Bathe a Lot

In order to really clean fur dog shampoo is too abrasive. The natural oils in the coat are also washed off along with the dirt. 

Although it may seem like a good idea to have a non-greasy coat frequent shampooing will dry the coat out.

After you shampoo your dog re-moisturize their coat with conditioner if you bathe them more than once a month. The conditioner will help seal the hair shaft so it can hold more moisture. You should reduce the amount of bath time for your pup if their coat appears dry after using the conditioner.

Dogs with Itchy Skin

Conditioner can soothe itchy skin and soothe rashes on your dog. When you condition your dog you restore natural oil reducing itching.

How is dog skin different from human skin? 

The pH of a dogs skin differs from that of a human. pH 7 is a neutral value for dogs’ skin which means that their skin is healthy. As for human hair and scalp their pH is on the acidic side of the spectrum ranging from 4.8 to 6.0. To keep pH balanced dog conditioners need to be neutral while human conditioners are typically acidic.

The skin of dogs is also thinner since they do not have the acidic mantle that human skin does. In humans the acidic mantle protects the skin from bacteria and fungi but dogs do not have this protective layer. Therefore its best to give your pup a gentle conditioner that is specially formulated to maintain their skin barrier.

What is the difference between a human conditioner and a dog hair conditioner?

the pH of human conditioners usually ranges from acidic to neutral whereas dog conditioners are more neutral. Since the acid mantle on the human scalp is washed away every time we shampoo the purpose of human conditioners is to restore the skins slightly acidic balance. 

Using a human conditioner on your dog will also affect slight acidification of the dogs skin which is not how dog skin should be pH balanced.

There is a risk of pH imbalance when using a human conditioner on dogs. This will lead to your dog being exposed to harmful pollutants.

Additionally dog conditioners are gentler. Due to this dog conditioners are designed to not only nourish the hair but also the skin. Human conditioners especially the cheap ones contain a lot of sulfates like SLS. Dogs are sensitive to this type of ingredient.

Even if you have tried using human conditioners on your dog without any side effects its still best to use a dog conditioner. There may be side effects that do not show up right away so even if nothing bothers you right now there may be problems later. I think using human conditioners on humans versus dog conditioners on dogs is just less risky in the long run.

How often should conditioner be used on a dog?

You should follow the bathing schedule for your dog if you decide to use a conditioner on him due to one of the conditions mentioned above. You should apply conditioner after you have shampooed him.

In general dogs should be bathed once every 1-3 months depending on their coat length and skin condition. Besides that you should only bathe them when they’re extremely dirty and smelly. Bathe them up to 1 or 2 times a month if the weather is extremely hot and humid.

When your dogs coat is dry and frizzy or tangled instead of increasing the frequency of conditioner try fixing the problem with their diet. If you want to improve the coat your vet might recommend adding omega-3 foods such as fish oil.

Will conditioner cure itchy dog skin?

Despite the fact that conditioner does not cure itchy skin it can help restore the skin and hairs natural oils thus treating the problem. Your dog will be in less discomfort if you use conditioner to ease his itch.

Are there any dangers associated with overusing dog conditioners?

While a conditioner can help retain moisture and keep a dogs coat soft and healthy too much of it isnot good either. Oily fur can result from over-conditioning. The fur may even stick together when over-conditioned. It is also important to remember that overusing dog conditioners can also result in dry fur so use it moderately.

Dry skin and dandruff can also occur as a result of the overuse of dog conditioners. When using products on your dog be sure to look at the label thoroughly. Check to see which ingredients might cause irritation. See if their skin is responding well to the products by looking for any signs of discomfort.

Is there a natural remedy to use instead of a conditioner?

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the best natural dog conditioner substitutes. The anti-bacterial properties of coconut oil make it ideal for treating skin itch problems. Coconut oil kills the bacteria that causes skin itch. Just as conditioner softens and shines the fur coconut oil also kills the bacteria that causes skin itch.

A 1:2 ratio of coconut oil to warm water should be used. If you want to add one tbsp of Massage it to your dogs coat leave it for a few minutes so the nutrients can absorb then rinse it off.


The best substitute for dog conditioners is oatmeal if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative. Oatmeal is rich in vitamin B fiber and minerals which helps retain moisture and soften the coat of dogs. Oatmeal can also promote healthy hair growth.

Put about 1/4 raw oatmeal in a lidded container after it has been ground into powder form. 2 tablespoons of aloe vera and 1 cup of warm water should be added. If you want to blend it perfectly either stir it with a spoon or close the lid and shake it.

Aloe Vera

You can use it in the previous oatmeal mixture as an additional ingredient or you can use it solely as a coat conditioner. In addition to being soothing and hydrating aloe vera is also known for its ability to condition dog fur. It will however yield better results when combined with other ingredients such as oatmeal.

Corn starch

You can use corn starch to simply detangle your dogs fur. Detangle the tangled hair with corn starch and try to rub it into the tangles gently with your hands. Corn starch is also useful for soothing skin rashes and itchiness.

If you want to read more about dogs’ daily tips read here: Dog Daily Tips and Tricks.

Can I Use Human Conditioner on My Dog? (Watch Video)

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