It was the perfect day and your kitty decided to wander around your garden. Her little paws got a bit muddy, but unfortunately, you’ve run out of proper cat shampoo. Is Dawn dish soap safe for cats? Time to find out.
Being in situations similar to yours multiple times by now, I’ve learned that you do sometimes have to wash your feline. Even though cats clean themselves very often and are known as one of the cleanest animals, you have to take care of those muddy paws or oily stains on their fur from time to time.
The problem is, we don’t need to do that frequently, so we usually forget that we’ve used the last drop of their shampoo. And then, as Murphy would have it, our feline friends go outside, get dirty and come back home in the hopes that we’ll take care of the mess.
You’re well aware that you can’t use human shampoos in these situations, but what about Dawn dish soap? Your subconscious mind is telling you that you’ve seen a social media post or two where people used it to clean their animals. So, is Dawn dish soap safe for cats?
What are the ingredients of Dawn dish soap?
First things first, what are the ingredients of Dawn dish soap? The most common ingredient in all Dawn dish soaps are chemical compounds called surfactants, which make the water softer and this allows grease and dirt to dissolve easier.
The main surfactant found in Dawn dish soap is sodium laureth sulfate, which is derived from natural ingredients (for example, coconut oil and sugarcane). This compound is safe for the skin and is therefore used in dishwashing detergents.
Besides this, other common ingredients in Dawn dish soaps are artificial fragrances, solvents, and thickeners.
Is Dawn dish soap safe for cats?
The original blue Dawn dishwashing liquid or Dawn Free & Clear are generally safe for cats. Both of these are mild and don’t contain (or have a minimal amount of) artificial fragrances and dyes. Other Dawn dish soaps are actually filled with them.
The majority of scented candles, air fresheners, and other cleaning products contain these fragrances and dyes as well, and they can be pretty harmful to your cat. They will easily irritate your feline’s eyes or respiratory system and worsen any skin issues that she may have.
So, the answer to whether Dawn dish soap is safe for cats is a yes – if you don’t use it frequently and if you exercise caution.
Is Dawn dish soap effective for cleaning your feline?
I’m going to share some good news with you a second time around. Yes, Dawn dish soap is effective for cleaning your cat. It’s going to remove dirt, oil, and litter remains from your cat’s fur. If you make her jump into that tub and if she cooperates, don’t worry about the impurities.
You can simply use it to remove the unpleasant odor or to clean your cat after she’s been a mischievous little devil. Because of its cleaning ability, most people often use Dawn to remove oil spills from other animals. However, Dawn dish soaps are not recommended to be a regular cleaning product for your feline.
Even though it’s not toxic for cats, Dawn dish soap can cause some irritability if used often. Therefore, if you need to use it in a pinch, nothing bad will happen.
Disclaimer: Every cat is different and it may be that yours is allergic to some compounds in Dawn dish soap. So pay attention to any negative signs after giving her a bath and consult your vet as soon as possible if you notice anything abnormal.
Is Dawn dish soap good for eliminating fleas?
Another yes. The Dawn dish soap is good for temporarily removing fleas from your cat’s fur, but it’s not going to solve the problem permanently. The soap traps the adult fleas under the water surface and basically drowns them.
I know that some medicines may have side effects, but rather choose the proper treatment for your feline. To be able to completely remove fleas from your cat’s coat, you’d have to wash her regularly, but it’s not recommended to use Dawn dish soap often (as we’ve already covered).
Pay attention if your cat has open wounds or cuts because in those cases you shouldn’t use any kind of soap, not just the Dawn dish soap. This will only cause her discomfort as that part of her skin would burn horribly.
In the end, if your furbaby has problems with fleas, rather consult your vet than use temporary solutions. Flea shampoos have compounds that directly take care of your cat’s skin so it won’t become dry and will be moisturized enough.
How to give your cat a bath using Dawn dish soap?
So, time to clean that mud from her little paws, but how are you going to go about it? You’ve learned that Dawn dish soap is safe for cats, but… Your lovely feline friend doesn’t like water, so this is going to be a mammoth task!
How will you fulfill it successfully? Here’s a step-by-step explanation.
1. Prepare the bathtub
First things first, right? Fill in the bathtub with some warm water, but just a few inches to cover her paws and part of her legs. If it feels more comfortable, you can do the same in the sink, but it may be easier to have a bigger space and a showerhead to help you.
Make sure that the water is not too hot so it won’t burn your cat, but don’t use completely cold water either. In fact, check the temperature with your own hand. If it’s good for you, it should be good for your furbaby as well.
2. Get a helper
This is where the fun begins, especially if you have children nearby. Gather those little helpers, because surely, at least one more pair of hands will be needed. My adorable tail-free Manx, fortunately, enjoys spending time in the water, so I don’t have this problem.
But, most domestic cats actually despise swimming or getting wet, and giving them a bath may be a bit challenging. Your furbaby may get jumpy and refuse to even put down her paws in the tub. Therefore, you’ll need to get a helper to finish this job properly.
3. Use Dawn dish soap
The time has come – Dawn dish soap! Okay, okay, I’m not going to be that enthusiastic. Put a drop or two on your palm as it’s pretty concentrated, and rub it on her back first (if you’re bathing all of her). It will get foamy soon, so disperse it wherever it’s needed.
Take care to specifically clean those parts that are dirty and avoid the area around her eyes. Gently rub it into her fur and get ready to go to the next step.
4. Rinse carefully
After you’ve shampooed your lovely pet, it’s time to carefully rinse it off. Make sure you rinse the soap from her fur completely and protect her eyes while doing so. Pay attention to the water temperature again and try not to scare her with that showerhead.
You can also use cups of water, or whatever your kitty is comfortable with. Just rinse thoroughly, because if cats ingest soap, nothing good can happen.
5. Towel-dry her fur
After you’ve cleaned the dirty parts and washed Dawn dish soap from your now-squeaky-clean cat’s fur, wrap her in a soft towel and gently start towel-drying her. You don’t have to dry her completely, but it’s important that she doesn’t stay soaking wet. If she has longer fur, brush it out.
If your cat is a bit stressed out after her bath, give her a little space so she can calm down.
If you’re actually giving your cat a bath using Dawn dish soap to get rid of the fleas, make sure you comb her fur properly after the soap got foamy. After rinsing thoroughly, towel-dry her and make sure she stays in a warm room until her fur is completely dry.
The downside of using Dawn dish soap
I know we said that you can use Dawn dish soap to wash your cat, but the downside of using it is actually what I’ve mentioned previously – it dries their skin. Dawn is a bit more rigid for cats than their regular shampoo so it shouldn’t be used often.
However, for kittens, the typical flea medicine is too strong, which is why foster cat parents use Dawn dish soap for this purpose. But as soon as they are grown-ups and are able to handle the real medication, the caretakers ditch the soap.
In case your feline has skin problems that you didn’t know of before using Dawn dish soap, make sure you either take her to the vet or consult him over the phone. Is this the only reason why you should limit the use of Dawn dish soap? Not really.
Cats’ skin naturally produces sebum (the same substance that causes oily skin for us) and it’s concentrated mainly around their neck, paws, tail, and around their face. Those places also have pheromones that cats use as a part of their scent-marking system.
You know what I’m talking about, right? They rub these pheromones on different surfaces and are able to find their way back home if they accidentally get lost. Sebum also keeps their skin moisturized, so if you’re using too much soap that degrades oil, cats may develop skin problems.
We’ve explained earlier that surfactants allow grease and dirt to dissolve easier, so using Dawn dish soap often (even though it’s safe for your feline) can make their skin dry. In extreme cases, this causes itchiness that can lead to severe skin irritation, not to mention it affecting their scent-marking ability, too.
Why you shouldn’t use human shampoos on cats?
Even though most people argue that the pH value is different in human shampoos and pet shampoos, Pet Groomer Magazine conducted a test. They’ve found a wide range of pH values among cleaning products for pets, some of them slightly acidic and close to human shampoos.
Most of them, however, fell close to neutral pH levels. But the acidity of the soap, in the end, has no significant effect, even though it’s inevitable that we use more powerful detergents for cleaning.
Our skin is thicker and we don’t have fur to protect us from external effects, so our biggest organ actually fulfills that duty. Therefore, shampoos that don’t harm us, may actually cause problems to our pets, especially if they have some underlying skin irritation or bacterial infection.
So, if she dipped her paw in your marmite-covered slice of bread, you don’t have to use Dawn dish soap to wash it. Plain water should do the trick if you don’t want your feline to enjoy a bit of that yeast paste. In worse cases, rather opt for specifically made pet shampoos.
What is the safe alternative to cat shampoo?
In case you run out of cat shampoo and urgently need to give your cat a bath, there are a couple of options. Besides Dawn dish soap, you can use baby shampoos. They are mild and specifically created for sensitive baby skin, which can actually be a good solution.
We’ve mentioned that Dawn dish soap is safe and can be used in case of emergency when you don’t have adequate cat shampoo. But I’ll leave you with one last tip: Rather go for Dawn Free & Clear since it’s the least harmful. Oh, also, if all fails, there is plain water to rinse the dirt away.
Whichever option you choose in the end, make sure that you rinse off the products thoroughly. And if you notice something’s off, don’t hesitate to contact (or even visit) your vet.