When somebody says that they have a pet, the first thing that comes to your brain is either they might have a cat or a dog. Isn’t it?

According to Petsecure more than half of Americans have either a dog or a cat as a pet. These common furry pets also require maintenance.

Imagine in a household where both, cats and dogs live together, while bathing them if the person grabs the dog shampoo instead of the cat one, what would happen?

Or worse if they run out of cat shampoo and just think, ‘what if  I use dog shampoo on my cat?’

Though being a hypothetical question with the stated statistics it is a very likely situation. If it ever happens one needs to know if it is actually safe and what one should do and what one shouldn’t.

Can I Use Dog Shampoo For My Cat?

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats?

No, using dog shampoo on cats is not safe and it can harm your pet cat. Dog shampoo, though meant to be used on fur has a very different chemical composition than cat shampoo.

Some chemicals in dog shampoos are highly toxic for cats and could be fatal for them.

You may sometimes wonder that both the animals have fur and both the pets even get the same dermatologic issues like fleas, so why we can’t use dog shampoos on cats?

We cannot use dog shampoos because the chemicals used in a  dog shampoo are not suitable for cat fur. Both the animals have fur but the natural oils secreted by their bodies are different and the substances that suit each of them are also different.

You may have seen a cat licking herself clean. They use their tongues to groom themselves.

Now if you use dog shampoo, and the cat licks itself, the residual shampoo on its fur might go into its body.

This might give the cat more than just dermatological issues.

That’s why you need to be very careful and never use dog shampoo on cats.

Apart from being toxic externally, it may be dangerous internally too.

It is not unknown that cats hate bathing. They can go a long time without bathing.

If you have a pet you may need to bathe it if it was playing in the mud r stinks too much, but dogs aren’t that way. They do not resist bathing and getting wet, some species of dogs even enjoy bathing.

Cats also react to scents differently than dogs do. Keeping these factors in mind, cat and dog shampoos are formulated.

The target for dog shampoo is dogs, that’s why it is named dog shampoo.

This is why you should never use dog shampoo on cats.

Can You Give A Kitten  A Bath With A Dog Shampoo?

Can You Give A Kitten  A Bath With A Dog Shampoo?

No, you cannot give a kitten a bath with dog shampoo.

Using dog shampoos on grown adult cats is risky and harmful when the cat’s immune system is also developed, so it is, even more, riskier on young and fragile little kittens.

The pH of cats is higher than that of dogs, hence the shampoos made for dogs are not suitable for cats, especially for kittens.

Young cats are very weak physically, they build their strength and immunity in the initial weeks. This includes their sensitive skin.

If in that period you use a dog shampoo it may harm the kitten. Their skins and bodies are way too sensitive to handle something unusual.

Kittens at a young age do not typically require a bath unless they are flea infected or catch up some sort of skin infection. So if you use dog shampoo it may not even put a scratch on the surface of the flea infection instead it would harm the kitten’s skin too.

Kittens also are prone to hypothermia, if you get them wet it would be risky, you should avoid bathing them altogether, but even if you want to you should not be using dog shampoo at the very least.

Kittens who haven’t had a bath before are very jumpy and are not used to the water. The shampoo, of any sort you use, may enter its eyes. Either way that’s way too dangerous and should not be risked.

So if you want to bathe your kitten with a shampoo make sure it is a cat shampoo, and if it’s not available get one, but using dog shampoo as an alternative should be religiously avoided and is also advised against.

Interesting Read: Can You Bathe A Pregnant Cat?

Can I Use Dog Flea Shampoo On My Cats?

NO, never use a dog flea shampoo on cats, never means never ever. The dog shampoo for fleas contains a chemical called ‘Permethrin’. This chemical is highly toxic for cats.

Fleas are a common skin problem for cats and dogs. They get infected by fleas easily and seldom it is even rare to get rid of them.

Sometimes fleas have large colonies in the dogs or cats’ fur and stubbornly stay there and no remedy other than flea shampoo works.

In this case, if you use a dog flea shampoo on a flea-infected act, it may cause cat issues other than the flea infection.

Cats when introduced to new scents may react unusually or get extremely stressed or anxious. Dogs are calmer when introduced to newer scents.

Dog flea shampoo also contains fragrances that can trigger anxiety or insecurity in cats which may even prompt them to attack you.

Not using a dog flea shampoo is also for your own safety too.

Permethrin infection is pretty nasty for cats and it may even make them blind. So you should probably think more than twice before using a dog flea shampoo on your cats.

What Happens If You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats?

What Happens If You Use Dog Shampoo On Cats?

If you use dog shampoo on cats, there could be a lot of things that could happen to your cat like Permetherin poisoning, skin infections, etc.

Even if it accidentally happens, matters get out of hand if your cat licks her skin and ingests any of the residual shampoos on its skin.

This is likely as the cat may feel something different and would like to assess her skin and lick herself. The chemicals in dog shampoo are harsh and toxic for cats.

But if your cat licks the shampoo you should observe the cat for the next 24 hours and inform your vet.

If the cat has licked or ingested dog flea shampoo you should look for the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  •  Muscle Tremors
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

These signs indicate Permethrin poisoning which could cause severe issues like blindness in cats. If you notice any of these signs, pay an emergency visit to your vet to navigate a suitable course of treatment.

You should first start by rinsing the dog shampoo off of the cat if you use it accidentally or otherwise.

Using dog shampoo once may not be that harmful if your cat hasn’t eaten it, but more than once could be harmful to the cat’s skin.

Check the labels of the shampoo used for any toxic material.

The absence of any harmful chemical will very unlikely cause any issue to your cat, but if it does contain anything toxic, make sure you get all the shampoo out of your cat’s fur and then observe the cat for any unusual behavior or symptom.

If you notice anything as such you should contact your vet.

They would also probably tell you to observe your cats, but it’s better safe than to be sorry.

What Is The Difference Between Dog And Cat Shampoo?

What Is The Difference Between Dog And Cat Shampoo?

The most prominent difference between cat and dog shampoos is that of pH.  The pH of a cat’s skin is around 7.0 to 8.0 and that of dogs is around 5.0 to 6.0. the shampoos are made to meet the safe pH range on the cats’ and dog’s skin.

The dog shampoo could be very harsh on a cat’s skin. The cats’ skin tends to be more alkaline and that of dogs is more acidic. So it could also cause allergic reactions to your cat.

The other prominent difference is the presence of Permethrin in dog flea shampoos. This ingredient is highly toxic for cats.

The chances a cat swallows shampoo after a bath is very high and swallowing Permethrin may poison them.

Dog shampoo is also filled with all sorts of fragrances and essential oils which does not sit well with the cats.

They are not as adaptable as dogs, especially to newer odors, so it may cause insecurity in your cat.

These are reasons enough to convince a person to never use dog shampoo on a cat on purpose ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if you accidentally bathe a cat with dog shampoo?

If you accidentally do it, you should first rinse off the shampoo and make sure that your cat hasn’t licked it. Check the label for ingredients and then call your vet. Your vet may give you advice on what to do next. Observe your cat for other symptoms meanwhile.

What if the cat licks dog shampoo?

If the cat licks dog shampoo, first off make sure the shampoo does not contain Permethrin. If it doesn’t it may not be a big deal but if it does, immediately seek medical attention as it may cause Permethrin poisoning.


Dogs and cats may be the most common pets. Their problems may also be similar but that does not mean using products meant for the another could be used on the other one.

Using dog shampoo on cats is very harmful and is advised against. Because the pH of cats’ and dogs’ skin is very different. Hence the shampoos are designed accordingly.

Using the wrong pH could cause an adverse effect on your cat.

Cats generally lick their skin so using a dog shampoo means that they could swallow it too so apart from never bathing them you should also make sure that they never ingest it too.

In a nutshell, if you use a dog shampoo accidentally, seek medical advice and plan a course of action.

If you are doing so, being unaware, now you know not to do it and you should stop.

But if you are doing it on purpose, you probably don’t care about the well-being of your cat, if you do you should stop.


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