Can I Use Head and Shoulders on my Dog? (For Dandruff, Fleas, Dry Scalp)

can you use head and shoulders on dogs?

No pet owner wishes to watch their furry, little friends suffer agonizing pains occasioned by itchy and flaky skin.

Indeed, itchy skin is a perfect precursor for canine irritability. Besides affecting their otherwise soft and moisturized coats, skin irritations may expose a dog to even more severe bacterial or fungal infections if not treated with the urgency it deserves.

Whenever our dogs suffer from any form of skin condition that manifests in visible discomforts, we’re often quick to apply the nearest remedy, even if it’s a product that’s explicitly prescribed for human use. One such product is the Head and Shoulders shampoo.

But as a pet owner, you may be wondering to yourself, can I use Head and Shoulders on my itchy dog?

Simply put, Head and Shoulders shampoo is safe to use for dogs only in moderation. But since you’re an average pet owner and not an expert in skincare products, you may not accurately determine what constitutes moderate amounts.

Read on for more insights on when the Heads and Shoulder shampoo is safe for your dog, and when you should avoid it altogether.

Main Reason Against Using Head and Shoulders Shampoo for Dogs

One of the main reasons why experts discourage Head and Shoulders for dogs is because most skincare products that are prescribed for humans present adverse effects when used on pets.

You probably already know how potentially dangerous certain human foods can be when offered to pets. You may also have been cautioned against using medical products, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen on your pooch.

Head And Shoulders For Dogs

Experts even warn against smearing baby diaper creams on a dog’s rash. Now, the case holds true for dandruff and other skincare products.

Hundreds of cosmetic, medical, and food products that are considered safe for humans can produce toxic effects on dogs and other pets.

So, while your instincts may get the better of you to an extent that you apply a human medical product on an ailing canine, it’s paramount that you first investigate the individual ingredients the product is made of before going all out on it. However, is Head and Shoulders safe for dogs?

We already mentioned it is and noted that its safety is subject to a few caveats. The next sections shall highlight why this cosmetic product may be safe for your pooch after all, and how to go about applying it.

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Why Use Head and Shoulders on Your Dog?

First and foremost, let’s clear the popularly-held misperception that dogs don’t get dandruff. Just like humans, canines also suffer dandruff and scores of other dermal conditions.

Dandruff on your dog’s skin will manifest in white flakes on the dog’s coat. It may also be symptomized by excess oiliness and an uncomfortable odor on the dog’s coat.

Besides the physical signs, you’re also likely to observe certain behavioral symptoms, such as scratching, nibbling, and licking the affected areas.

The itching may get so intense that the dog scratches on anything it comes by, which might lead to deep skin lacerations and severe bleeding.

Siberian Husky Puppy Scratching

There are numerous potential causes of canine dandruff. Examples include humidity levels, bacterial or fungal infections, parasites, certain diseases such as obesity, and even skin lesions.

If you briefly examine the label of a Head and Shoulders shampoo, you’ll note that the product contains an active ingredient known as zinc pyrithione. Zinc is generally believed to be poisonous for dogs, especially when it appears as the dominant ingredient in cosmetic and medical products.

However, the presence of zinc in zinc pyrithione isn’t reason enough to write off Head and Shoulders for dogs.

In fact, zinc pyrithione, also known as ZPT, is a renowned powerful skincare product that’s often prescribed for dogs with dandruff. This potent water-soluble compound eliminates dandruff by loosening the flakes and treating the underlying condition as well.

Essentially, zinc pyrithione inhibits the division or proliferation of bacterial and fungal cells. The best part is that it works in canines more effectively than it does in humans, as it also fights canine parasites such as fleas.

And the fact that Head and Shoulders shampoo features only one percent of zinc pyrithione takes away the nagging concerns of possible zinc poisoning.

But amidst all the praise, you may still be wondering to yourself, is Head and Shoulders ideal for puppies, or is Head and Shoulders safe for dogs that are young?

Since the skin of puppies is more sensitive than that of adult dogs, you shouldn’t use this shampoo on them. 

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Common Doggy Issues That Head and Shoulders Can Treat

First, ZPT is highly effective in treating seborrhea. Seborrhea is a canine skin condition that’s similar to dandruff in humans.

The condition commonly manifests in itchy and flaky skin, but may also produce red, greasy, stinky, and inflamed patches on the canine’s coat.

When you apply Head and Shoulders on the affected areas, the shampoo eliminates seborrhea and also treats the underlying condition.

As we’ve already mentioned, Head and Shoulders is a recommended canine cosmetic product for flea removal. A subtle application of the shampoo, followed by a 5-minutes wait is all it takes for all the fleas on your dog’s skin to be paralyzed.

It’s important to remember that the shampoo doesn’t actually kill the fleas. Instead, it renders them paralyzed. That makes it easier to wash away the parasites down the drain.

Any flea exoskeleton that’s left behind is also rendered weak and vulnerable, which makes the remaining parasites die off quickly.

So, if you’ve always asked yourself, “will Head and Shoulders kill fleas on dogs?”, we hope this section helps settle that question.

Terrier dog taking bubble bath

Besides the elimination of seborrhea and fleas, ZPT also contains incredible antibacterial and antifungal properties. Therefore, it successfully treats many forms of yeast infection and helps promote a healthy canine skin.

Remember that if a yeast infection isn’t addressed with the urgency it deserves, the condition could easily spread onto other parts of the body, such as its ears, paws, etc.

LEARN ABOUT IT: 10 Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs

Can You Wash Your Dog with Head and Shoulders?

Now, having looked at the immense benefits of Heads and Shoulders, you’re probably wondering, can you bathe a dog with Head and Shoulders?

Fortunately, you can. However, that would require that you understand how to apply Head and Shoulders on your dog.

So, how do you go about it? Let’s find out.

Step 1: Brush the dog

Using a slicker brush, gently brush your dog to loosen any mats that may be trapped in its fur.

After loosening these mats, proceed to brush them out of the dog’s fur using a bristle brush. The bristle brush will also make the dog’s coat smooth and ready for lathering with the shampoo.

If the dog behaves appropriately during this entire exercise, reward it with a treat.

Treating your dog is instrumental in reinforcing good behavior, and the dog will instinctively play along whenever you need to carry out similar procedures in the future.

slicker brush for dogs

Step 2: Prepare the bathing area

The next step is to make the bathing area safe enough for the dog.

First, you’ll need to give the dog a stable footing while you bathe it, by putting a rubber mat inside the bathtub.

Next, place your dog inside a bathtub and attach an approved pet sprayer to the faucet, then get the dog wet. You could also use a hand-held shower attachment as an alternative to the pet sprayer.

Remember to warm up the water so that it feels comfortable for the dog, and ensure you fully saturate its coat.

While spraying the dog down with warm water, take care not to spray above the dog’s neck as many dogs don’t like to get their heads wet.

Besides, you don’t want the shampoo to get into your canine’s eyes as that might create serious irritations.

brown dog getting washed

Step 3: Wash the dog

After thoroughly wetting the dog, lather it up using about one quarter-sized glob of the Head and Shoulders shampoo.

Using your fingers, work the shampoo into a great froth around the dog’s skin to ensure it completely saturates the fur, the same way you would do with your skin. Needless to mention, avoid the neck area.

If your dog is a double-coated or long-haired breed, you may need to massage the shampoo even more intensely to ensure it makes contact with the dog’s skin.

Allow the Head and Shoulders shampoo to sit on your dog’s skin for between five and fifteen minutes.

To ensure the dog isn’t distracted, you may consider keeping it entertained. In the meantime, you could also use a piece of damp cloth to wipe its face clean from any dirt and grime. Don’t dip the cloth in any shampoo; lukewarm water will do just fine.

bathing-a-dog with head and shoulders

Step 4: Rinsing

After waiting for about 15 minutes, you can now rinse off the shampoo from your dog’s coat. For that, use warm water in the sprayer or a handheld showerhead.

Make sure you wipe off all the shampoo using your fingers until the water runs clear.

To ensure there’s no shampoo left on the dog’s skin, run your fingers gently across the dog’s coat. Leaving shampoo on the dog’s coat may cause further irritation.

ALSO READ: How To Clean A Dog Without A Bath (9 Tips)

Step – 5: Dry off the dog’s coat

The final step is to dry off the dog’s coat using a soft, dry towel. For optimal drying effects, you may consider an air dryer or hairdryer.

However, you’ll need to establish that your dog isn’t startled by the noise that these equipment emit.

If you’re dealing with a skittish dog, you can skip the driers and simply leave the dog to air dry on its own.

It’s also wise to hold a hairdryer at a safe distance to avoid causing burns on the dog’s coat. Wind it up by using a bristle brush to smooth the hair on your dog’s skin, so as to prevent any tangling.

dog after bath with towel

When done, keep the shampoo away to prevent the dog from licking it.

But how often can I use head and shoulders on my pet?

Generally, you can repeat this procedure between twice and three times a week, depending on the severity of seborrhea.

So, Can You Use Head and Shoulders on Dogs?

Yes, you can. However, moderation is key.

Remember that your pooch has only a maximum of five layers of cells on their skin, hence their coats are more sensitive than human skin.

Plus, the pH balance of a dog’s skin is relatively higher than that of humans, which makes it unrealistic to use a human shampoo with a considerably lower pH balance.

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Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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