The 11 Best Dog Shampoos to Keep Your Dog Clean and Healthy
Is there really a difference when it comes to dog shampoos? Yes! Here’s how to find the best one for your fur baby.
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Whether you’re the proud owner of a canine who loves rolling around in the mud or you simply want to make sure your pup always looks (and smells) fresh, dog shampoo is a must. While some breeds need to be bathed less frequently, many dogs benefit from at least a once-monthly scrub down. “Bathing our dogs can be helpful to reduce allergies caused by pollens, dusts, and irritants on the skin, as well as to provide good hygiene and to reduce pet dander, which can add to human allergies,” explains veterinarian Ryan Rucker, DVM, a spokesperson for Zesty Paws. “Not shampooing your dog can lead to a buildup of pet dander, pollen on the fur, and potentially harmful bacteria that can lead to allergies for both dogs and humans alike.”
As for how frequently you should bathe your dog, that depends on your pet. Overwashing can lead to dry skin for some breeds, while other dogs need baths every few days to manage allergies or skin conditions. Not sure where to start? You’re in the right place. We’ve outlined the best dog shampoos for every type of pooch and every specific doggy need. In addition to heeding the advice below, speak with your veterinarian to come up with a game plan for how to groom your dog and which dog grooming tools to keep on hand, such as the best dog nail clippers. While you’re at it, take a look at the best dog toothbrushes and learn about how often to brush your dog’s teeth to keep your pup in tip-top shape.
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Oatmeal Dog Shampoo & Conditioner
Best for: Most dogs
“This dog shampoo is gentle and safe for dogs, and it works well on almost all breeds,” says Chris Roth, DVM, the in-house veterinarian at Pets Best Health Insurance. He notes that this soap-free formula soothes skin with oatmeal and boasts the ability to neutralize a wide variety of odors on both skin and fur. Here are another 10 easy ways to get rid of pet odors in your home.
Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo
Best for: Allergy-prone dogs
If your dog could talk, he’d be the first to tell you that itching and scratching from allergies is the worst! “Dogs with skin conditions may require more frequent shampooing. If a veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist recommends a shampoo specifically for a pet’s skin condition, such allergies, shampoo therapy may be performed as often as twice weekly initially, then every seven to 10 days for maintenance,” advises Jeanne Budgin, DVM, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.
A product like Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo can help remove allergens and pollens that can trigger discomfort in sensitive dogs. Just make sure to read the label and follow the instructions, since certain medicated shampoos, like this one, need to be left on for a few minutes before rinsing. If you’re the one with allergies, look into adopting one of these hypoallergenic dog breeds.
Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo with Buttermilk
Best for: Puppies
While many dog shampoos will work on puppies, sometimes it’s simpler to grab one that’s formulated specifically for young canines. Usually, stronger formulations should be avoided since puppy skin is far more sensitive than adult dog skin. Burt’s Bee’s Tearless Puppy Shampoo with Buttermilk for Dogs is very mild, making it one of the best dog shampoos for our young and fluffy friends. It utilizes honey to moisturize and foster hair growth and buttermilk to soothe, and it won’t negate tick and flea spot treatments. Check out these long-haired dogs with gorgeous locks that you’ll just want to shampoo all day.
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo
Best for: Combating fleas and ticks
Maybe you and your pup love to frolic regularly in the great outdoors, or perhaps pests just have a thing for your sweet pup no matter what you do. Fortunately, you can curb the issue with an over-the-counter solution. One of the best dog shampoos for flea and tick prevention is Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo, which is made with an ingredient called precor that helps regulate insect growth. It kills fleas, ticks, lice, and eggs. It’s also made with calming oatmeal, hydrating coconut oil, and lanolin, so it won’t irritate your pet’s skin. To keep the rest of your family itch-free, try these home remedies for fleas.
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo
Best for: Dogs with dry, itchy, sensitive skin
If you’ve ever dealt with a dry, itchy, or sensitive scalp, then you know just how frustrating it can be. Now imagine if you had that problem all over your body! “Dogs with dry skin may also benefit from shampoo therapy, especially with moisturizing shampoos and leave-in conditioners,” says Dr. Budgin. For pups with this issue, try Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo. Oatmeal and aloe hydrate and soothe skin by combating irritation, promoting healing, and moisturizing dry, sensitive skin.
Of course, it’s also important to figure out what’s causing this issue. Review these possible reasons your dog is so itchy, and remember that your “veterinarian is the best resource for a recommendation on the type and frequency of shampoo for specific conditions,” says Dr. Budgin.
4Legger Organic Dog Shampoo
Best for: Dogs with eco-conscious pet parents
If you prefer a holistic approach to dog shampoo, this product by 4Legger is an amazing option. Only 2 percent of all dog shampoos are certified organic, and this is one of the 2 percent! Plus, more than 2,000 happy customers gave it five stars on Amazon. It’s made with organic lemongrass oil (a natural flea repellent), as well as organic coconut oil and aloe vera to help soothe your pup’s skin. If you’re a DIY kind of person, check out these clever pet products you can make at home.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo
Best for: Dogs with skin ailments
This veterinarian-recommended product is one of the best dog shampoos for pups dealing with skin issues. It’s made with colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, coal tar, salicylic acid, and micronized sulfur to handle issues like seborrhea (flaking/dandruff), parasitic infections, fungal infections, and bacterial infections.
Of course, a visit to a professional is always a good idea when dealing with a problem like this, especially if it’s the first time your pup is experiencing it; after all, you’ll want to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. Plus, says Dr. Roth, “if your pet is experiencing a particular skin or hair-coat condition, the veterinarian may have suggestions for medicated shampoos that can provide better results than over-the-counter brands.” Don’t forget to browse through the best dog harnesses for your pup—the right one makes all the difference!
Earthbath Shed Control Shampoo
Best for: Dogs who shed
Though a good brushing is always required for pups who shed a lot, a shampoo that works in your favor can help alleviate some of the dreaded fur balls that lurk in your home. Earthbath’s Shed Control Shampoo is made with shea butter, green tea leaf extract, ginseng, awapuhi, and other humectants and emollients that nourish skin while also helping to control excessive shedding and dander. To tame this hairy problem, also try these pet hair removers that really work.
Isle of Dogs Everyday Silky Coating Shampoo
Best for: Yorkies, Beagles, and Spaniels
With nearly 1,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, this poshly packaged conditioner from Isle of Dogs is a clear winner. The deep-penetrating formulation helps detangle and smooth your pup’s coat, as well as make it super silky and shiny. One Yorkie mom of two, who gave this five stars, writes, “I’ve tried many different dog shampoos, but they always seemed to leave a residue, and [my dogs’] coats did not shine or look healthy on one or the other. In only one bath with this, both their coats were silky, shiny, and smelled fabulous! The second time we bathed them, even better. I can never begin to say how nice their coats look, feel, and smell!” Speaking of smell, this pup shampoo is scented with jasmine and vanilla. Only the finest for your fine pooch!
Cloud Star Buddy Wash 2 in 1 Dog Shampoo Plus Conditioner
Best for: Dogs who don’t like baths
If the struggle is real just to get your pet to sit for a shampooing, good luck moving onto a second product to condition! This product from Cloud Star Buddy Wash combines shampoo and conditioner to make both of your lives easier. In addition to cleaning and moisturizing, it helps calm your pet via a light lavender and mint scent.
To help make bath time successful, Dr. Budgin recommends brushing out any knots or tangles with a wide-tooth comb first. She also advises placing a non-slip mat in the tub so it feels more comfortable for your furry friend. “Providing lots of positive reinforcement, such as favorite treats or food items to lick—like whipped cream or xylitol-free peanut butter smeared on the shower stall—a calm soothing voice, relaxing music, and a gentle massage can all result in a more enjoyable bath time,” she adds.
Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Natural Pet Shampoo
Best for: Hairless dogs
For dogs with little to no hair, choose a dog shampoo that focuses on improving skin health. With roughly 600 reviews on Amazon and a 4.7 rating, Earthbath’s Hypo-Allergenic Natural Pet Shampoo is one of the best options for this specific need. Its 100 percent biodegradable formulation is all-natural (meaning it doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, soaps, or dyes), so it won’t irritate your dog’s skin. This nourishing shampoo is also pH balanced and fragrance-free. Note that other shampoos on this list also work for hairless dogs—just make sure you choose one that’s gentle and targets your dog’s specific needs. Dr. Roth also recommends diluting any product before rubbing it directly onto your pet’s bare skin.
Helpful advice for washing your dog
Now that you know what some of the best dog shampoos are, let’s make sure you’re making the most of bath time with your pet. Karen Shaw Becker, DVM, a veterinarian and author of The Forever Dog, shares some helpful tips. “First, brush your dog to remove dirt, debris, excess hair, and mats from their coat. Next, choose the best spot to bathe your dog, such as the laundry room, shop sink, or walk-in shower,” she says. “Keep their eyes and ears protected by putting a cotton ball just inside each of your dog’s ears to prevent water from getting in, and don’t use shampoo around their eyes. Lather from front to back, starting at the neck, and don’t forget to wet all four legs, paws, and undercarriage.”
She says to get your dog as wet as possible before applying shampoo, which will help with lathering and rinsing. Mixing shampoo 50/50 with lukewarm water and pouring it over your pup’s coat prior to lathering can also help. Rinse, and then rinse again to ensure all residue is removed since buildup can cause irritation. Next, wring or pat the water out of your dog’s coat before gently drying with a towel.
“If your dog seems anxious or fearful, try to enlist a helper to gently hold him steady and help him feel safe,” says Dr. Shaw Becker. “Your helper can soothe your dog and offer tiny treats for being extra brave during his bath. The goal is to create a positive experience so your dog won’t develop an extreme dislike or fear of being bathed.” If you also happen to have a finicky feline in your household, you’ll also want this information on how to bathe a cat without getting scratched.
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- Ryan Rucker, veterinarian and spokesperson for Zesty Paws
- Chris Roth, DVM, the in-house veterinarian at Pets Best Health Insurance
- Jeanne Budgin, DVM, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist