a maine coon with eyes closed

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Your Maine Coon?

They’re known as gentle giants and the ‘dogs of the car world’.

If you have a multi pet family with dogs as well as vats you’ll have noticed that your dog always comes back muddy whereas your cat keeps itself clean.

Maine Coons clean themselves by nature.

So in your cupboard, you may have dog shampoo for when your Maine Coon gets something in its fur which needs removing – a bath is necessary.

This begs the question, can you use dog shampoo on your Maine Coon?

You shouldn’t use dog shampoo on your Maine Coon cat. Cat skin is more delicate than a dog’s and chemicals, namely tea tree oil, tar, and Selenium Sulphite, and Permethrin (an insecticide) are toxic to cats. With prolonged use your cat’s skin risks developing rashes and becoming flaky.

So dog shampoo isn’t ideal then.

It’s quite a complicated minefield because there are brands out there that are designed for both cats and dogs.

Best to check the bottle – if your dog shampoo says ‘for dog’s only‘ then it more than likely contains a toxic irritant to a cat.

If you do use it, make sure your Maine Coon is thoroughly rinsed.

a white maien coon beign bathed

Will Dog Shampoo Be Harmful To My Maine Coon?

Humans, dogs, and cats all look very different but people make the mistake of thinking fur and hair are pretty much the same.

That may be true, but each animal’s skin has a balanced pH (acidity level) which grooming products are designed to work with.

Humans have a skin pH of around 5.0 – 5.5, dogs have a skin pH around 6.5 to 7.5, while cats are around 5.5 to 7.5

The lower the pH the more acidic.

So human shampoo could be more acidic, but dog shampoo could be more alkaline, both of which might be caustic and cause skin irritation.

Mostly though, dog shampoo contains ingredients for flea control which can be toxic to your Maine Coon.

The bottle should be labeled ‘for dogs only’ if the manufacturer has put toxic chemicals in for cats.

Cats generally groom themselves but on occasion, they will get some filth matted in their fur, namely, muck, feces, paint, or oil.

If you don’t thoroughly rinse a cat after using grooming products, your cat might ingest some of the chemicals.

A dog shampoo can contain the chemical permethrin which is used as a flea killer – this is TOXIC to cats

A Maine Coon can get away with being rinsed rather than shampooed.

It can also help reduce sneezing in humans allergic to cat fur.

If the dog shampoo says ‘can be used on all pets‘ then it’s most likely a neutral pH grooming product without flea control.

If in doubt, don’t use dog shampoo on your Maine Coon – just rinse instead, or use a specially formulated cat shampoo.

a calico maine coon head shot

What Dog Shampoo Ingredients Should I Avoid?

Always consult a vet if in doubt, but the four most common things to avoid in dog shampoo that are toxic to cats are;

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Tar
  • Selenium Sulphite
  • Permethrin (insecticide)

At least, that’s what the medical professionals seem to write about.

Tea tree oil can be found in dog shampoos but in low concentrations. Although it’s harmful, the concentration makes it ineffective.

In dogs that is – cats are smaller and the amount of tea tree oil could be toxic for a small Maine Coon.

There are also essential oils with some shampoos, which again, are formulated for a different skin pH.

Applied to cats, they can result in itchy, flaky, and dry skin which can lead to skin infections.

a ginger maine coon side of head

Should You Use Cat Specific Shampoo For Your Maine Coon

It might all sound like a lot of nonsense but there’s a reason that pet manufacturers make different products for different species.

There are some pretty good reasons why you should only use a shampoo designed for cats on your Maine Coon.

I guess it depends upon frequency.

A one-off in an emergency to get rid of a more toxic chemical like oil might be fine, assuming you rinse thoroughly to get rid of the shampoo chemicals

But prolonged use can seriously irritate the skin, leading to infections.

The skin of your Maine Coon is more delicate than a dog’s so prolific use of dog shampoo might result in rashes and blisters.

Probably, you might be wondering what the fuss is about using dog shampoo on your cat.

The toxic level of flea remedies is more a cause for concern.

Dog shampoo with a flea disinfectant might seriously irritate your cat – especially if they groom themselves afterward and some chemicals are still on the fur.

Puppy shampoo might be less problematic to account for delicate puppy skin.

Most cats bathe themselves, and mostly if any help is needed then a rinse in water only will get rid of most issues.

And as a plus, it’s much safer.

a ginger maine coon on a branch outdoors


If you can get away with rinsing out with water only, that’s a better option than using dog shampoo.

While cat shampoo is perfect, a dog or shampoo might be used in very small quantities followed by a thorough rinse down to skin level to get rid of the chemicals.

It’s not ideal but if you’re removing paint or oil, it might be better than nothing.

However, if flea or tick-killing chemicals are in the dog shampoo it’s advised you don’t use them as these are more toxic to cats.

The best option is to use cat shampoo for cats.

A bottle of cat shampoo typically costs less than 10 dollars and will last for a while since cats rarely need to be bathed.

Buy some and keep it for an emergency.

Cat’s are irritated by a lot of chemicals that dogs aren’t, so if you have doubts about what you’re using, then don’t – be on the safe side.

It might be a case of using common sense judgment, if the dog shampoo tells you it’s ok for all pets then fine, but terms like ‘for dogs only’ it’s best to obey the instruction.

Dog shampoo can cause skin irritations for your Maine Coon and risks skin diseases and parasites if used prolifically.

A THOROUGH RINSE is required if you ever do you use dog shampoo on your cat.

The key ingredients to avoid are tea tree oil, tar, and selenium sulphite.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use human shampoo on your Maine Coon?

It is not advised for you to shampoo your Maine Coon with human shampoo. The acidity levels are different in humans and cats. Human shampoo is more acidic for the cat’s skin and may give irritation which leads to flaky skin and risks disease with prolonged use. If you do use human shampoo on your Maine Coon, make sure it is thoroughly rinsed so the cat does not ingest toxic chemicals when grooming themselves.

Can you use a dog harness on your Maine Coon?

Even if the harness fits, many types of dog harnesses are not designed for cats. Cat’s will often try and wriggle out which the harness might not stop. Cats rotate their bodies for balance which a stiffer dog harness may not be adequate for. Simple use might be fine, but if you need a harness often, then get one designed for a cat.

Can you use a dog collar on your Maine Coon?

While dogs run and play, a cat will prowl through the undergrowth and hunt. A cat can also climb trees and it’s not unknown for cats to accidentally restrain themselves in the undergrowth. Proper cat collars are designed to unclip under certain pressure to help release. For an indoor Maine Coon a dog collar may be OK, but an outdoor one should have a proper cat collar.

Can you feed your Maine Coon dog food?

Your Maine Coon should not be given dog food. A cat is an obligate carnivore and gets all its vitamins, nutrients, and proteins from the meat they consume. Dog food does not contain taurine, as dogs produce it, which a cat needs from meat. Taurine deficiency is linked to renal failure, developmental abnormalities, and retinal damage.

About the Author


My name is Ann and I have been looking after and breeding cats since 2013. I am currently the proud ownder of Alita, a female Maine Coon to whom I've dedicated this site. She has had 2 litters and is around 3 years old. We share adventures and stories together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One