Is Dawn Dish Soap Safe For Dogs?

Is Dawn Dish Soap Safe For Dogs?

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Dawn dish soap is famed for its ability to clean up just about anything covered with oil—from dishes, human skin to birds, and sea turtles.

In fact, when you visit Dawn’s main website, you will get a link titled “Dawn saves Wildlife”, where they highlight how Dawn dish soap has been instrumental in cleaning up thousands of birds and wild animals caught up in oil spills.

If Dawn dish soap is safe enough for wildlife, you are probably wondering if you can use it on your dog as well.

When you ran out of your regular dog shampoo, it can be tempting to reach for whatever soap or detergent you might already have in your shower or kitchen.

But are they safe for your dog? And to be precise, is dawn dish soap safe for dogs?

Well, let’s find out…

Why Is Dawn Dish Soap Used On Birds After an Oil Spill?

The main reason why Dawn soap is usually used on wildlife after an oil spill is because it is strong and fast-acting.

It allows the rescuers to remove the oil from the animals’ bodies as quickly as possible—before the oil suffocates their skin pores.

Dawn soap has proven to be effective in removing oil because it is formulated with caustic chemicals that essentially cut through anything.

Dawn soap is also known to clear the smell of skunk sprays.

A skunk spray has oil substance in it, which adheres to your dog’s skin and Dawn soap breaks it up, making it easy to remove the majority of the spray fast.

So, Is Dawn Dish Soap Safe For Dogs?

Essentially, for Dawn soap to be reliable in removing oils, it has to possess excellent grease-fighting capabilities.

For dogs, this can be a problem—it can be too harsh for them!

So, while Dawn dish soap may be excellent in breaking up and removing oils, it is not safe to use on dogs.

To shed more light on this, here is why Dawn soap might not be the miracle shampoo alternative you hoped it would be for your canine friend.

1. Dawn Dish Soap May Strip Out Healthy, Natural Oil From Your Dog’s Skin

The natural oils on your pup’s skin play a significant role in keeping his skin hydrated and his fur smooth.

Because of its excellent oil-cutting capabilities, when Dawn dish soap is used for routine bathing your dog, it will strip off the natural oils.

As a result, your dog’s skin will be less hydrated, itchy, and will be less capable of keeping bacteria, yeast, allergens at bay.

2. Dawn Dish Soap May Disrupt Your Dog’s Skin Acid Mantle

Shampoos for dogs are formulated to have a balanced pH level that is less likely to irritate their skin.

The natural pH of your dog isn’t necessarily the same as birds and wildlife that dawn dish soap is touted to be friendly to.

So, if you use a non-dog shampoo (including Dawn dish soap) on your dog, you run the risk of the product disrupting your dog’s skin acid mantel, causing irritation and inflammation.

The irritation and inflammation will, in turn, create an environment where bacteria, yeast, and parasites can run rampant.

Besides, as aforementioned, Dawn dish soap also removes natural oils on your dog’s skin.

Without these oils, your dog’s skin pH also gets out of whack.

And with the wrong pH, your dog’s skin will not be able to defend itself from bacteria and allergens.

3. Dawn Dish Soap Is Formulated With Strong Chemicals That Are Unhealthy For Pets

The main ingredients of Dawn Ultra Dishwashing soap include Water, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Alcohol, Denat., Methylisothiazolinone, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PPG-26, C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide, Sodium Chloride, FRAGRANCE, PEI-14 PEG-24/PPG-16 COPOLYMER, Phenoxyethanol, and Acid Blue 9.

At first glance, these ingredients might appear like a lot of chemicals.

Well, to be fair to Dawn, that’s not the case. All the ingredients are safe and non-toxic.

When you look up each chemical on the ingredients list, you will soon realize that they are safe and low in toxicity.

However, when it comes to your dog’s health, the impact of each ingredient may be different.

So, to be safe, it is important to avoid using Dawn soap and other unfamiliar detergents on your dog.

4. Dawn May Be Cause Soap Poisoning If Ingested By Your Dog

Dawn is highly concentrated and forms large amounts of lather, which is often tremendously difficult and time-consuming to rinse out.

This means that even after rinsing the soap off your dog, a small portion of it could still accidentally find its way into his eyes, causing irritation.

Even riskier is the chance of your pup licking his body and ingesting the dish soap.

Ingesting the dish soap could cause soap poisoning, which is often associated with symptoms like difficulty in breathing, severe stomach pain, swelling of the tongue and throat, and gastrointestinal stress.

Should You Ever Use Dawn Dish Soap On Your Dog?

Considering all the above highlighted factors, yes, you technically may use Dawn soap to cut oil from the salad dressing that might have accidentally spilled on your dog.

You may also use the dish soap to clear built-up oils on your dog’s coat if you feel it can make your dog’s coat look and feel less than its best.

Some groomers also recommend using a pinch of Dawn soap to make home remedies for de-skunking dogs.

In all those applications, it is important to use only small amounts of the Dawn dish soap and to thoroughly dilute it with water.

Afterward, ensure that you meticulously rinse your dog’s body with plenty of water to completely remove traces of the dish soap.

If you notice any signs of dryness or irritation, consider using dog lotion or talk to your vet for more professional input.

Stick To Your Regular Dog Shampoo

A regular dog shampoo doesn’t contain the potentially harsh chemicals present in Dawn soap and other dishwashing soaps and will safely clean and moisturize your dog’s coat.

And you don’t need to worry about compromising your dog’s health when using dog shampoos because their effectiveness is a result of a well-researched formulation.

Some dog shampoos are even tailored to cater to specific grooming needs.

Whether you want to combat doggie odor, condition dry coats, strengthen the damaged coat, make your dog’s coat sparkle, soothe irritated skin, preserve wiry texture, combat excessive shedding, or fight fleas and ticks, you will find a dog shampoo that gets the job done.


While Dawn dish soap is marketed as safe and gentle to wildlife, it is a little too harsh for dogs.

If you must bathe your dog, therefore, we recommend going with a regular dog shampoo that’s formulated specifically for dog skin.

Dawn dish soap may get the job done, but a dog shampoo makes more sense if you want to preserve your dog’s natural oils and don’t want to expose your dog to irritations and skin-related issues.

Dry, itchy, and irritated skin in dogs can be very taxing to deal with. It may necessitate frequent visits to your vet for tests and possibly costly antibiotic treatments.

So, the few bucks you want to save by using Dawn or any other low-cost dish soap may end up costing you more in the long run.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.