Can You Use Dawn On Dogs?

Written by Marisa Wilson
Updated: September 26, 2023
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Dogs are often dirty, and their fur can be challenging to clean. This is especially true if your dog likes to roll in the mud or play in the dirt. Thankfully, Dawn dish soap is safe for dogs and can be used to clean their fur. 

There are a few things about using Dawn on your dog. First, you should understand how often it is to use it. It can strip the natural oils from your dog’s fur, leading to dryness and irritation. Second, if your dog has a flea infestation, you might need to use Dawn to help eliminate the pests. 

In general, though, Dawn is safe for dogs and can be used to keep their fur clean and healthy. Understanding the risks and how to use the soap properly is essential. Keep reading to get the full scoop.

Why You May Want to Use Dawn on Your Dog

Most of us know that animals captured in oil spills are frequently cleaned with Dawn dish soap. It is gentle enough to clean even young animals and powerful enough to manage the biggest messes your dog may have. If your dog gets harmful material that has an oil base on their skin or coat, your veterinarian may occasionally recommend Dawn to bathe your dog.

It’s frequently recommended to use Dawn dish soap to eliminate fleas instead of more expensive parasite preventatives. Any mature fleas on your dog should die after a bath in Dawn. Fleas typically can float in water, but Dawn soap’s chemical reaction interferes with their exoskeleton, causing them to sink and drown. Vets frequently use Dawn in animal shelters to kill fleas on puppies and kittens that are too young for other flea control medications. 

Dawn, however, doesn’t offer any lasting defense or flea-repelling properties. Your dog may have all the fleas removed from them, but fleas in their surroundings could still re-infest them. Dawn is likewise useless for killing flea eggs or young fleas. Removing these flea life phases is necessary to eradicate fleas completely. It’s not advisable to rely on treating your dog’s flea problem by just washing with dawn soap.

deshedding shampoo for dogs

Giving your dog a bath with Dawn dish soap is a simple and cost-effective way to get rid of fleas.

©Roman Chazov/

How to Use Dawn on Dogs

If your dog is dirty from oil or dirt, you’ll dilute the soap with water and apply it to your dog’s wet fur like regular shampoo. Then if you have a dog conditioner or leave-in spray, you can use them and follow the instructions on the bottle.

Even though Dawn dish soap kills adult fleas, especially if you use it frequently, it can dry up your dog’s skin. It is not the greatest soap for dogs because of this and shouldn’t be used more frequently than once per week.

To keep your pup still, you can try lick mats to keep them distracted.

To treat fleas:

  1. Combine two tablespoons of the soap with approximately 1 liter of warm water.
  2. Pour the soap solution on the pet’s body after thoroughly wetting it. It is expected that fleas will begin to migrate toward the pet’s head.
  3. Have a flea comb on hand to get rid of these.
  4. Once the soap has formed a lather, keep stroking the animal’s body.
  5. Keep the lather on for at least five minutes, but no more than ten.
  6. Rinse off.

What Other Soap Can You Use on Dogs?

Gentle baby shampoos with neutral pH levels can prove effective for dog breeds with short or no fur. These shampoos are less likely to cause skin dryness, making them suitable for bathing puppies and providing relief for irritated skin.

One of the most commonly used alternatives to dog shampoo is human baby shampoo. It’s gentle on dogs and won’t remove their natural oils.

Be sure to use a minimal amount and rinse thoroughly. Another common substitute for dog shampoo is Dawn dish soap.

Risk of Using Dawn

Dog shampoos are designed to have a balanced pH level and are less prone to irritating their skin. Dawn dish soap is advertised as being beneficial to birds and other wildlife, but your dog’s pH isn’t always the same as theirs. Therefore, you run the danger of the product disturbing your dog’s skin acid balance, resulting in irritation and inflammation, if you use a non-dog shampoo on them (even Dawn). 

Bacteria or yeast can flourish in an environment caused by skin irritability and inflammation. In addition, Dawn dish soap destroys the skin’s natural oils, and the pH becomes unbalanced without these oils. If the pH is off, your dog’s skin won’t be able to protect itself from allergies and pathogens. Dawn is quite concentrated and produces a lot of lather, which is challenging and time-consuming to rinse off. 

This implies that even after washing the soap off your dog, a tiny amount could inadvertently get into his eyes and irritate them. Even more dangerous is the potential for your dog to lick the dish soap off his body and consume it. Soap poisoning, which is frequently accompanied by symptoms including breathing difficulties, excruciating stomach pain, swelling of the tongue and neck, and gastrointestinal stress, could be brought on by ingesting the dish soap.

dog with flaky skin

One danger of using Dawn is it can irritate your dog’s skin.

©natnaree sangkaew/

If Your Dog Ingests Dawn

If you think your dog has consumed soap, remove it from them right away, clean their mouth with water, and call your veterinarian. If they exhibit any unusual behavior, they could advise keeping an eye on them for the ensuing few hours or bringing them to the clinic immediately away. When you take your dog to the vet, they’ll perform a physical examination. 

If you have it, get the soap’s ingredient list so the veterinarian can better comprehend the situation to choose the proper treatment. To fully understand your dog’s condition, they might need to perform an endoscopy or take an X-ray. They could advise having your dog monitored in a veterinary hospital. Your dog’s treatment depends on how recently you noticed consuming the soap.


Although it is not advised for routine bathing, Dawn dish soap is safe for your dog. It helps remove oil and grease from their fur and any strong odors they may have picked up. In addition, Dawn dish soap can also help kill fleas. 

However, avoiding getting the soap in your dog’s eyes is essential, as it can cause irritation. If you use Dawn dish soap on your dog, rinse them thoroughly afterward to remove any residual soap. 

Don’t use it more than once a week to avoid irritating their skin and drying out their fur. Share this article with other pet owners to understand how Dawn affects their dogs and when they should use it.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ron Adar/

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

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