If you've ever been in a situation where you're out of dog shampoo, don't worry - there are plenty of substitutes that you can use. Dog shampoo is specifically formulated to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and looking its best. If you’re in a tight spot with no other way to wash your dog, though, there are some household items that can do the trick. Here are a few dog shampoo substitutes that will help get your dog clean without all the fuss!

First of all, let's recap why dog shampoo is special?

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Dog shampoo is not the same as the human shampoo. Dogs have a different PH balance than humans thus it has been created specifically for dogs in order to keep a dog's skin and coat healthy. It is important to understand that when you substitute dog shampoo with something else - this may damage your dog's coat in a long term in addition to causing skin irritations in dogs. Nevertheless, if you have no other choice - here are some ideas.

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

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Fresh and clean and ready for her dry 

The following household products can be used as substitute for dog shampoo only as LAST RESORT:

  • Human baby shampoo is probably the most popular dog shampoo substitute. It is gentle enough to use on dogs and will not strip their coat of natural oils. Just make sure to use a very small amount and rinse thoroughly.
  • Dish soap is a common dog shampoo substitute. It can be used in a pinch, but it should only be used as a last resort as it can be harsh on your dog’s skin. 
  • White vinegar is a great way to get rid of any lingering odors on your dog. Simply mix equal parts water and vinegar, apply it to your dog’s coat, and rinse well. In fact, apple cider vinegar can help soothe minor dog skin irritations such as dry skin, itchiness and dryness. 
  • Baking soda can be used to freshen up your dog’s coat. Just make a paste with water and baking soda, apply it to your dog’s coat, and rinse well. Baking soda can help dry out rashes, redness and alleviate itching in dogs.  

TIP:  If you use any of these solutions, be sure you use the SMALLEST amount possible and try to use them locally, where the coat is the dirtiest. Always remember to rinse thoroughly with a lot of water.

Natural dog shampoo substitutes

If you're looking for a more natural dog shampoo substitute, there are plenty of options. Here are a few to try:

  • Coconut oil is great forconditioning your dog’s coat and can also help to repel fleas and ticks. Just rub a small amount into your dog’s coat and brush it through.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be mixed with equal parts of water and and applied to your dog’s coat. Do not forget to rinse it very well!
  • Lemon juice can also be used to freshen up your dog’s coat. Just mix equal parts of water and lemon juice, and apply it carefully on the body of the dog, carefully avoiding ears, eyes and cracks in the paws.

There are a lot of myths and not proven advice going around the internet about how to substitute dog shampoo, here are some of them 

The Best dog shampoo substitutes: 

Pride and Groom, as first ever dog beauty brand, handlede the question of dog shampoo equivalents with striking seriousness. We have created waterless dog shampoo THE MANE TAME. 

This light scenting formula is 100% free of sulphates, parabens, gluten, toxins, dyes, and silicones, which are harmful to your pal's skin and fur. With this nourishing shampoo, your pal will smell fresh between grooms or whenever he needs a good clean. View our customer’s review here.

This is the perfect option, if you are out of dog shampoo. As it has all the necessary and save ingredients to keep your pup's coat clean and healthy. It does not require water, but you would definitely need a brush. 

Just rub the waterless dog shampoo in the dog's coat & brush thoroughly through it! Voila! Your pooch is clean now!

Is Dove soap safe for dogs? 

Dove soap is not safe for dogs as it can be harsh on their skin. If you must use a dog shampoo substitute, opt for something that is gentle and designed for sensitive skin, but not Dove soap! Not to knock Dove. We love it for our human selves.

Can you use cat shampoo on dogs?

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Best buds outside but not in the bath

No, you should not use cat shampoo on dogs as it can be harsh on their skin. If you must use a dog shampoo substitute, opt for something that is gentle and designed for sensitive skin, like baby shampoo or dish soap.

Dog & cat's skin is different in terms of thickness, composition & pH levels. You should not swap dog's shampoo with cat's shampoo (or a human’s shampo)!

Can I use dish soap to wash dog?

The short answer is Yes, you can use dish soap to wash dog as a last resort. The longer answer is that we do not recommend it as it can cause itchiness and irritations. It is gentle enough to use on dogs and will not strip their coat of natural oils. MAKE SURE to use a very small amount and RINSE THOROUGHLY.

Can you use human shampoo on dogs? 

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No, you should not use human shampoo on dogs as it can strip their coat of natural oils and cause irritation. If you must use a dog shampoo substitute, opt for something that is gentle and designed for sensitive skin, like baby shampoo. Just make sure to use a very small amount and rinse thoroughly.

Why can't I use human shampoo on my dog?

Human shampoo is more alkaline, whereas due to differences in skin Ph levels, dogs' shampoo is more acidic. This difference is crucial because it allows dog shampoo to not only clean a dog's coat but also preserve dog's natural skin oils.

Those oils are important in order to keep a dog's coat healthy and looking good.

On the other hand, human shampoo is much harsher and can strip away those natural oils, which may cause irritated skin & damage the well-being of your pooch.

Extra tip!

The best thing you can do to never run out of dog's shampoo again is to buy a subscription to all dog grooming products, that you use. Check out our PACK MEMBER subscription, that not only covers you every 30,60 or 90 days with needed dog care supplies but provides additional benefits:

  • free delivery
  • new gift with every delivery

Hopefully, this article has helped you out if you ever find yourself in a bind with no dog shampoo on hand! Remember, these substitutes should only be used in a pinch - your dog's coat will thank you for using dog shampoo instead. From one dog owner to another, happy grooming!


PRIDE+GROOM was born because 4 New York City dog lovers wanted the same level of grooming products for their dogs that they themselves enjoyed. They looked (hard) but nothing was up to snuff. Or sniff. Like so many, we love our families and take pride in our homes, and we consider our pets to be integral parts of those entities. That said, we could not find an effective way to coif them that was on par with the way we tended to our children, our homes, or ourselves. These beloved pets are allowed on the furniture and in our beds, and yet even when fresh from the groomer, we knew they did not smell or feel as good as they could.

With the development of our coat-specific shampoos, conditioner and deodorizing spray, we think we found just the way to say thanks for being the best and the sweetest MVP of the house.

PRIDE+GROOM is the first dog grooming brand launched under a beauty platform, with formulas made in a clean beauty and scent lab. We know beauty is not only skin deep. We did a ton of research to create the entire line. Each product is formulated with its own unique blend of essential oils sourced from around the world.


Shop our entire line:  www.prideandgroom.com