Is It Okay To Use Human Products On Dogs?

Most of us feel like our dogs are family and we all probably have a natural impulse sometimes to use human products on our dogs.  But, is it a good idea to use human products on dogs?  Should you give your dog a human painkiller or use your shampoo on your dog?  In general, the answer is no, but there are a few exceptions.


You should not give your dog human painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, except under a veterinarian’s advice.  Ibuprofen metabolizes very slowly.  Even if you give your dog very small doses, it can add up to a large dose for your dog and be deadly.  It can cause liver damage, bleeding ulcers, and it is often fatal.  Acetaminophen can also cause blood and liver problems in dogs and it can also be fatal.  Even dogs that survive may have permanent liver damage.  So, don’t give your dogs painkillers that are intended for humans, except under the advice of a veterinarian.  There are many good painkillers for dogs that your vet can prescribe for your dog.

Dogs can also become sick if they accidentally eat other medications such as heart medicine, blood pressure medicine, antidepressants or mood stabilizers.  If your dog does swallow these pills (on the floor, or by getting a bottle), you should call your vet immediately and ask for instructions.  Or call a poison control hotline for pets such as the Pet Poison Helpline.


Lots of people like to use human shampoo on their dogs.  They may use their own shampoo or they think it’s a good idea to use a tearless baby shampoo.  Actually, it’s not a good idea to use a human shampoo on your dog.  Your dog’s skin has a different pH level from yours.  Shampoo made for your hair and scalp is formulated with a different pH level than your dog needs.  In fact, human shampoo is usually too harsh for a dog and if you use it over a long period of time, it will often make a dog’s hair dry and harsh by stripping the natural oils from his skin and fur.  Using a human shampoo on your dog can make his skin dry and itchy.  That’s why you should use a good dog shampoo when you bathe your dog.

On the other hand, if you talk to professional dog groomers, they may tell you that they do use human shampoos when they bathe dogs, or even dish detergent.  However, dog groomers are professionals and they know what they’re doing when it comes to bathing and conditioning dogs.  Plus, they have to bathe and groom some very grungy dogs each day.  When it comes to bathing your dog at home, it’s best to use a good dog shampoo that is formulated for your dog’s skin and coat.  Choose a shampoo that suits his particular kind of coat (silky, wire, short and coarse).  Use a conditioner if necessary.  And make sure that you rinse well so you avoid creating any hot spots.

Nutritional Supplements?

Lots of dog owners today are interested in giving their dogs nutritional supplements for better health.  There are many cases where nutritional supplements may improve the health of your dog.  For example, if your is getting older and has arthritis or joint problems then taking glucosamine and chondroitin may help rebuild cartilage and ease joint pain.  So, should you give your dog nutritional supplements that are intended for humans?  The answer is that you can give your dog supplements that are intended for people but if you do so, you will need to be very careful with the dosages.

Most nutritional supplements that are commonly given to dogs are packaged and come ready to give to dogs.  The dosing is stated on the product label.  You can buy Cosequin, a glucosamine and chondroitin product for dogs, and it already has the dosage for dogs by weight on the label.  If you buy these products separately, for humans, then you will need to carefully figure out the correct dosage for your dog.  It’s a good idea to talk to your vet in order to determine the best dosage for your dog.

The same is true for fish oil and other supplements.  You can purchase them in a product that is already packaged and ready to give to your dog, with the dose figured out for you; or you can purchase them for humans and have to figure out the dose for your dog.  You do need to be careful with the dosage because in some cases there can be some side effects if you give your dog the wrong dose, even with nutritional supplements.

As you can see, it’s usually best not to use human products for dogs.  In some cases you can use human products for dogs but if you do, you need to be careful.  There can be some unintended consequences, whether you are using human shampoo on your dog, or giving your dog nutritional supplements for people.  Use caution and always carefully consider what you are using with your dog.


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