pH level of a dog’s epidermis…Never use human products on pets!

Did you know that baby shampoo is 150 times too acidic for a dog’s epidermis?

We recently found an interesting article about the pH level of dog’s skin. We know it’s common for people to bathe their dogs with dish soap or baby shampoo, and do “skunk baths” with products like baking soda, mouthwash, vinegar etc.

There is evidence that these simple products can severely irritate dog’s skin, because dog’s skin has a different pH level and thickness compared to ours:

 pH level in pets vs humans:

– Pets 7.0-7.52
– Humans 5.2-5.5

The dog’s skin is the most alkaline of all species making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria (aka skin infections) if the pH is disrupted. If this happens, inflammation and infection can occur due to over-drying and eroding of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). A dog’s epidermis is only 8-10 cell layers thick, whereas human’s are 18-20 cell layers thick! The dog’s skin is thicker overall, but the epidermis is very thin and susceptible to bacteria if it is stripped away with improper ingredients that are not pH balanced for their skin.

Not everyone knows that a very alkaline product can do just as much damage as a very acidic product. Just as a very acidic product to humans like sulfuric acid would basically burn away human epidermis, very alkaline products such as Lye, can produce inflammation or even chemical burns on human epidermis. The same thing applies to a dog’s epidermis.

Here are some examples of pH levels of products some people use on dogs:

– Ivory dish soap pH 9.5
– Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo pH 5.5
– Baking Soda pH 8.3
– Vinegar pH 2.2
– Scope pH 5.5
– Listerine pH 4.2

When you move on the pH scale from one number to another, it indicates a change of 10 times 10, or a 100 fold change. For example, if you went from 7 to 5, that is 200 times more acidic, or from 7 to 9, that is 200 times more alkaline.

This means that dish soap is approximately 250 times more alkaline to a dog’s epidermis.

Baby shampoo is approx. 150 times more acidic to a dog’s epidermis.

Baking soda is approx. 130 times more alkaline to a dog’s epidermis.

Vinegar is approx. 500 times more acidic to a dog’s epidermis.

Scope mouthwash is approx. 200 times more acidic to a dog’s epidermis.

Human products should NEVER be used on a pet. Pet products are specifically formulated to be pH balanced for their skin as to not cause irritation. We only use high quality pet products at Fur-Ever Loved Pet Salon and we also sell a fantastic line of skin care products for pets called Epi-Pet. For more information please visit






  1. Ron  March 20, 2016

    Please check your facts. Baby shampoos have a pH of 7.0 (which matches the pH of human tears and is why they do not irritate the eyes).

  2. Lisa  December 1, 2015

    Many vets have told me to give a dog with yeast issues of the skin, a rinse of lemon juice or white vinegar. Because these are so acidic, does this mean a dog with overgrowth of yeast, their skin ph is not at a normal level and needs acid to balance again? Also, how can I check the ph of a dogs skin? Is there a way?
    I didn’t find your information misleading at all and have read what you said in other well trusted veterinarian sites as well. Its actually very accurate. People should also take into consideration that products sold in the USA and Canada can be very different. Canadian Dove is not as strong as in the USA. Same for many cleaning products. Also for drinks. Some sodas have more sugar and caffeine in them from the states then in Canada. Dove and Mountain Dew soda are a good example. They are really quite different here in Canada. So this would also produce problems when checking on ph levels of non pet products. Baby shampoo not stinging eyes is not because it is so gentle but simply because its close to the ph of our eyes.Its not a gentle shampoo at all. It just doesn’t change our eye ph enough to make them hurt. Many products work that way.

    • Kirsty Coulson  January 9, 2016

      Hi Lisa! Every dog/skin condition is different, so always trust your vet when they are making suggestions for your dog specifically! Honestly, we are not sure if there is a way for the average person to check the pH of a dog’s skin, we just know what the proper pH of a healthy dog’s skin is. We simply wanted to provide this information to educate the average person NOT to use anything but dog-specific shampoo or other products on dogs. We’ve had clients bring in bottles of Herbal Essences wanting us to use it on their dog – a BIG no no!! Or clients who bathe their dogs in baby shampoo – if they are going out to buy baby shampoo, they should just go out and buy dog shampoo instead! Thanks for your comment! Makes total sense what you wrote about the baby shampoo not hurting the eyes because of the pH, not because it’s labeled “gentle”.

  3. Ella  September 30, 2015

    Actually… if you do even a cursory search on google you will find that pet skin pH runs anywhere from 5.5 to 8.6 depending on many factors. So already your information is a bit restrictive and obviously being used to make it seem like it is detrimental to your pets health for people to buy anything but your products. Not cool. Further to this, you’ve used ridiculous scare tactic statistics in regards to the 100’s of % more acid and alkaline certain substances would appear to a pet. In addition your source material is quoting the pH of a BAR soap, indeed Ivory Bar soap is a 9.5 however the Ivory dish washing liquid is only a 7.4. (Government MSDS Meaning that your source material is also being purposefully twisted to show that their products are the obvious choice and everything else is irresponsible. And finally… if you DID test the pH of pet products you’d also find they range in pH considerably as well as say Palmolive Dish Liquid which clocks in at around 7.3 and Dove liquid dish detergent at around 7.0 perfectly pH balanced for a canine (according to your statistics). I’m not recommending someone to use dish detergent on their pets, but if we’re strictly talking pH values as your article is… then this would qualify. I’m certainly not against anyone advertising why they’re business is of value to anyone, but do it honestly without omitting information. I would highly encourage you to do more research and challenge the information you are presented with from “sources” before passing it on. It makes one hesitant to entrust their loved ones well being to a business run in this manner.

    • Kirsty Coulson  October 26, 2015

      Hi Ella, Thank you for your comments and additional knowledge. We understand the pH in pets can be a tricky thing. We are not purposely twisting anything and are in no way trying to imply that everything except “our products” are irresponsible. We are not trying to force people to use only our products or use our services, but to only use pet-approved products on dogs. We are simply informing pet owners of the science behind the dangers of using non-pet products on dogs. We see way too many people using non pet-approved products on dogs that has harmed their skin, or worse. We’ve had doggy clients pass away from their owners using non pet-approved products on them after licking it off their fur. We only want the best for our clients and all dogs everywhere. Whether they use our products/services or not, only SAFE pet-approved products should be used on pets. We hope that pet owners see our genuine care, compassion, knowledge and dedication to keeping pets safe and healthy to entrust us with their dogs and be satisfied with the way we run our business.

  4. Monique  February 21, 2015

    Thank you for this highly insightful information regarding the ph levels of dogs vs humans . As a passionate person working in the pet industry aiming to make a difference , i will most defenatly use this information to educate my clients everyday !!
    Kind Regards
    Monique Kellerman

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