Your dog’s pH level is an important factor of its overall health—so it’s important to maintain. Below we’ll talk about the typical pH of dog skin, why it’s so important, and what you can do to keep it at the right levels.
In this guide:
What does pH level mean?
When we talk about pH levels, we are referring to how acidic or alkaline something is. We use a numbered scale to measure the pH of things and compare them to one another.
For instance, lemon juice, tomato juice, and colas have an acidic pH level that ranges from 2 to 4. Milk, distilled water, and human tears fall in the middle, neutral portion of the pH scale, ranging from 6 to 8.
On the alkaline end of the scale, you will find milk of magnesia and ammonia, with a range of 10 to 11.
What is the typical dog pH level?
The skin of all mammals has a basic pH level as well. While the skin of humans is closer to the acidic end of the scale, the pH of dog skin edges slightly closer to the alkaline end, at 7.52.
Note how the average skin pH level of humans and some common mammals compare in the chart below:
Why the pH of dog skin is important
Notice that humans and dogs lie on the opposite ends of the pH ranges above. This not only means human skin is very different from dog skin, but also that dog skin requires different care in order to avoid disrupting its natural pH levels.
If the natural pH level of a dog’s skin is repeatedly disrupted, the skin will become irritated and susceptible to infection.
This is problematic because canine skin is already more susceptible to irritation, with an epidermis thickness of only about three to five skin cells. That is significantly thinner than the human epidermis, which is 10 to 15 cells thick.1
With such a thin epidermis, dog skin which has been irritated or even burned by substances that are too acidic or alkaline will have a significantly elevated risk of bacterial infection.
Keeping your pup’s skin at an even pH level that is close to neutral is therefore an important part of being a pet parent. The good news is, it is relatively easy to do this, especially if you avoid a few big mistakes.
How to protect dog skin pH levels
Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes we see is the assumption that you can wash your dog with human shampoo, baby shampoo, or dish detergent. None of these products are formulated with a dog’s natural skin pH in mind however, and all of them will negatively impact the skin pH if used consistently.
Even Dawn dish soap, which tends to be closer to the neutral pH of a dog’s skin, will likely strip the skin of natural oils and cause dryness and irritation that may further upset the pH balance of your dog’s skin.
Unless otherwise directed by your vet for a very specific reason or ailment, it is very important to only use a shampoo on your dog that is specifically formulated for canine pH levels and which will not remove beneficial oils or cause irritation.
Thankfully, there are quite a few excellent products out there that can keep your pup squeaky clean while protecting their pH levels and not drying out their skin.
Take your time finding the right product for your dog and pay close attention to any irritation that crops up. Just because something is labeled as a dog shampoo, it doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems. If you find a particular shampoo is causing dryness or skin inflammation, don’t hesitate to try a new one until you find a good fit for your pup.
Protecting your dog’s pH doesn’t need to be complicated. Armed with the information you find here and a natural dog shampoo, you’ll be able to protect your dog’s skin health and keep them looking and feeling great.
If you’ve had good (or bad) experiences with any particular products and your dog’s skin pH, please let us know all about it in the comments below!
 “Skin – the Difference between Canine and Human Skin.” Vetwest Animal Hospitals, 8 Mar. 2019, https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/skin-the-difference-between-canine-and-human-skin.