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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 run 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 mantle, causing irritation and inflammation.
Acid mantle is a thin layer or barrier on a dog’s skin mainly composed of oil glands and amino acids.
It protects the topmost layer of your dog’s skin from contaminants like bacteria and viruses. It also keeps the skin hydrated and reduces evaporation.
When it is disrupted, a dog may be at risk of developing dry and itchy skin due to fungal, bacterial, or yeast infections.
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 from 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
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 Soap, 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 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
- Gastrointestinal stress.
Symptoms may vary depending on the concentration of the soap that your pup consumed.
For instance, your dog may experience more severe symptoms if he ingested the concentrated Dawn soap directly from the bottle.
The level of poisoning will also depend on the amount of soap consumed and the age of your dog.
Regardless of the level of poisoning, call your vet immediately or take your dog to the nearest emergency pet clinic.
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 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 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.
Related Post: 15 Best Dog Lotions for Dry and Itchy Skin
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.
Related Post: 10 Best Tick Shampoo for Dogs
Is Dawn Platinum safe for dogs?
The short answer is No. Dawn Platinum Soap is not safe for your dog.
Compared to the normal Dawn soap, the Platinum variant is more concentrated, has more ingredients, and cleans faster.
This simply means that using Dawn Platinum on your dog will double or triple the negative effects that we have highlighted above (ie. stripping natural oils from your dog, disrupting his skin acid mantle, causing severe soap poisoning, etc).
And as mentioned above, more ingredients translate to an increased probability of potentially unhealthy chemicals.
We hope that you can see where the Dawn Platinum variant may take the health of your pup…
Your best bet is to use products that are specifically designed for dogs.
Is Dawn Ultra safe for dogs?
Again, the difference between the normal Dawn soap and the Ultra variant is potency.
While Platinum is formulated for stubborn stains, the Ultra version is designed to handle most day-to-day stains—but is more effective than the conventional Dawn soap.
It is also formulated with more active ingredients than the normal Dawn soap. But the Platinum variant is more concentrated and boasts more active ingredients than the Ultra.
So, Dawn Ultra is still not safe for your dog.
When you use it to routinely bathe your dog, expect it to strip your dog of its natural skin oils that are meant to nourish and protect it.
Also expect the soap to disrupt your pup’s skin acid mantle, leaving it less hydrated and having decreased ability to keep yeasts, viruses, and allergy pathogens at bay.
Again due to its high concentration, poisoning symptoms may also be more severe than the conventional Dawn soap should your dog ingest it.
Can You Use Dawn Soap To Kill Fleas On Your Dog?
The short answer is yes. You can use Dawn soap to kill fleas on your pup.
See, Dawn soap is a surfactant , which simply implies that when it is added to a liquid like water, it has the potential to reduce surface tension, thereby boosting its wetting and spreading properties. Surfactants are also called surface-active agents.
While fleas usually float in water, adding a surfactant like Dawn soap will compromise their floating capabilities, eventually drowning and killing them.
But it is just a temporal solution. In other words, you cannot rely on Dawn soap to manage flea infestation in your dog because it will only kill adult fleas and spare fleas in other life stages (eggs, larvae, and pupa).
Again, there are numerous places in your environment where fleas can hide, including carpets, couches, beds, etc.
So, if you are looking to eradicate flea infestation, seek veterinary advice for proper treatment and preventive methods.
You may also find these home remedies useful: 50 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Dog
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.