As a dog owner, you want the best for your pet, including the best dog shampoo to keep your furry friend clean. There are hundreds of dog shampoo products on the market today, each one claiming to be the “top choice” for your dog.
So, how do you go about choosing the best dog shampoo?
We tested pet shampoos from 30 popular pet grooming brands to see how well each product worked. Our research found that, Burts Bees Oatmeal Shampoo is the overall best shampoo for dogs. We'll also take a look at what you need to look for when buying the best shampoo, as well as counting down to 13 of the top-rated dog shampoo products on the market.
Let's get started!
Our Top Dog Shampoo Picks of 2020
Best for Dry Skin
Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo
Top Performance Fresh Pet Shampoo
Best For Itchy Skin (Allergies)
Vet's Best Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo
Buyer's Guide for the Best Dog Shampoo
When we set out to review the top 13 shampoos for dogs, we learned a lot about what to look for, as well as some common misconceptions about keeping our furry friends clean. We'll go over some facts later on in this article. For now, let's answer the question of “What's the best dog shampoo?”, and what you need to consider when buying shampoo for your pet.
Are There Benefits to Using Pet Shampoos?
A lot of people ask if they can use anything to wash a dog, from dish soap to human shampoo. While some of these may get your dog clean, they aren't always the best option. You see, dogs have sensitive skin. They also have that furry coat, which needs special attention and care. Would you wash your hair with dish soap? Probably not!
Dogs can have issues with dandruff, dry skin, and allergies just like us. So you need to find a dog shampoo that not only cleans and treats their fur but also addresses any issues they may have. Some dog breeds will need to be washed more often, such as those with silky fur, which tends to look dirty quicker. Then there are those with white or very light coats that may seem harder to keep clean.
The Many Coats That Dogs Wear
To find the best shampoo for your dog, you need to understand the needs of their fur. We can do this by looking at the different types of coats that dog breeds have.
There are even specific grooming tools and clippers that you should use for your dog's fur type.
Before you choose a shampoo, learn about the coat of the breed you have and any special attention it requires. This will make keeping your pet clean for longer much easier. Now let's look at the key considerations when choosing the best dog shampoo.
Check the pH
Just like humans, dogs' skin has a pH balance for their skin. However, this pH balance is not the same as ours, which is why it isn't recommended that you use your own shampoo on your pet. The skin on dogs is more acidic with a 6.2 to 7.5 pH range. Humans have a lower pH range at 5.5. When buying a dog shampoo, be sure to check the pH level is right for your pet.
Since dogs have skin that is more sensitive than ours, you need to find products that use gentle ingredients. Not all dog shampoos are the same, and some will have ingredients that can harm or irritate your pet's skin. You want to avoid things, such as artificial dyes and fragrances. Look for natural fragrances, such as eucalyptus, chamomile, and lavender, which are known for their skin calming qualities.
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors it can be exposed to pests, such as ticks, fleas, and lice. All of these critters love burrowing into the skin and hair of your dog. When buying shampoo for your dog, look for one that has been specifically created to repel these pests. You will not only have a much happier pooch but will also be protecting them from diseases carried by pests.
This is the most important consideration when buying shampoo for your dog. Every dog is different and their skin may need specific care.
Just like humans, dogs can have dandruff, skin allergies, and dry itchy skin. Allergies to pollen, dander, grass, and food can cause irritation that makes your pet uncomfortable. This is what makes them scratch, which can irritate their skin even more. Depending on what is causing the dry itchy skin, you will need to find a dog shampoo that will moisturize the skin, combat allergens, or that is gentle on super sensitive skin.
Another factor when looking for the best dog shampoo is your pet's age. Puppies have skin that is more sensitive than adult dogs, just like babies in comparison to adult humans. This means you need to buy a shampoo that is age-appropriate. Shampoos for puppies are gentler and often have a formula that won't irritate their eyes.
Dogs get into a heap of things, like food, garbage, and other mysterious substances. Adventurous canines may smell more than others, so you need a shampoo that is deodorizing and will help eliminate stinky odors, as opposed to just masking them.
If you like keeping your dog's coat nice and shiny or are finding that age and health are making their fur look dull, you can sue a shampoo aimed at bringing back that luster. These shampoos are designed with nourishing ingredients, proteins, minerals, and vitamins that are aimed at restoring that healthy shine to your dog's coat.
If you have a dog with light or white fur, you may notice that they tend to look dirtier quicker. It's no secret that light colors will show dirt more easily. Some white coats can also get a bit of a yellowish tinge to them. There are shampoos that have been specially made to whiten and brighten those light-haired pooches. They will boost the shine of your dog's coat, as well as prevent it from getting that yellowish tinge.
Curly-haired dogs and those with dry fur tend to matt and tangle more easily. For this issue, you may want to think about using both a shampoo and a conditioner to help keep the hair moisturized and more manageable.
If you and your furry friend tend to be on the go a lot, you may not have a lot of time to give them a proper wash. This is where waterless dog shampoos come in. It's also a good option for pets who don't like water. You can cut down on the baths a bit and use a waterless shampoo in between wet washes.
There are so many dog shampoo brands on the market. Not all brands are equal though, and some use ingredients that shouldn't be used on dogs. Choosing a well-known brand will ensure that you are getting a shampoo that was specifically made for pets.
Some Bath Time Tips
Bathing your pet can feel like a wrestling match at times unless you are lucky enough to have a dog who loves bathing. There are some things that you can do, however, to make bathtime go a bit smoother.
Normally, dogs will need to be washed once a month. If your dog has oily skin and hair, they may need a wash once a week. Then you have those breeds, such as the Basenji, who bathe themselves and will rarely need you to wash them.
Keeping your dog clean doesn't have to be a nightmare if you know what shampoo they require, how often they need cleaning and using the tips above to make the process go more smoothly. Now let's look at the 13 best shampoos for dogs.
The Best Dog Shampoos of 2020
1. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo With Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey For Dogs
Best Dog Shampoo For Dry Skin
If you want a simple but effective oatmeal shampoo for your dog's dry skin, your furry friend will love Burt's Bees.
This is one of the best oatmeal shampoo for dogs. It uses colloidal oatmeal flour, which is a very fine powder that is mixed into the solution, allowing it to effectively cover all areas of your dog's skin. Oatmeal has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It also has honey in it, which is a known natural moisturizer and skin soother. Both work to relieve itchiness and dryness.
This gentle cleanser uses no colorants or sulfates, and is pH balanced, so is good for dogs with sensitive skin. Another natural ingredient in this shampoo is Green tea extract, which works to strengthen hair and reduce shedding. The combination of these natural ingredients gives your dog's coat a healthy shine while keeping the skin moisturized to eliminate dryness.
2. Top Performance Fresh Pet Shampoo
Best Smelling Dog Shampoo
You will love this dog shampoo if you need one that is not only gentle for frequent washes but smells nice.
Dogs have a keen sense of smell and some are put off by stronger smelling shampoos. This dog shampoo by Top Performance has a fresh scent that is gentle enough to use on puppies as little as 6-weeks old. It also lathers up very well and isn't watered down.
The formula has a neutral pH, making it a good choice for older dogs, and helps with detangling those with longer hair. The result is a shiny coat that will smell lovely for a few weeks. The scent is long-lasting without being overpowering to your pet or yourself.
3. Vet's Best Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo
Best dog shampoo for itchy skin (allergies)
If your furry friend has allergies and sensitive skin, Vet's Best has a shampoo that will ease their discomfort.
I have to say, after reading reviews, this seems to be the best dog shampoo for allergies. This dog shampoo from Vet's Best has been specifically created as a hypoallergenic dog shampoo for pups with sensitive skin, and who suffer constantly with allergies. It contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, both of which are known for their moisturizing properties. By remoisturizing the skin it works to alleviate itching, as well as restore hair that has become brittle.
It also uses B vitamin derived Panthenol, which not only moisturizes but thickens and smooths the hair follicles to give fur a radiant shine. Lastly, to help eliminate dandruff is Allantoin, which also helps to treat skin issues, such as seborrhea and psoriasis.
This is also a good shampoo to use if your dog is being treated for fleas or ticks because it won't interfere with any prescribed ointments being used.
4. Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Shampoo & Conditioner
Best Dog Shampoo for Odor
If your little adventurer tends to turn up stinky more often than not, you will love this shampoo by Nature's Miracle.
This product is the best dog shampoo and conditioner in one that is made with natural oatmeal in a honey sage scent. Nature's Miracle is a pet brand used by many pet owners and is known for it's high-quality. This shampoo has been formulated with its one-of-a-kind enzyme treatment that removes odors and stains.
Using natural ingredients, the shampoo works to cleanse and moisturize your dog's fur and skin. The honey sage scent works to mask odors but isn't overpowering. The added conditioning element to this shampoo will soften the coat without drawing away the natural oils of your dog's skin. It's a soap-free dog shampoo that contains no sulfates or parabens, so is very suitable for dogs who have irritated, sensitive, and itchy skin.
5. Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo
Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
If your dog has sensitive skin and you want a product that is all-natural and biodegradable, Earthbath has the dog shampoo for you.
Earthbath has created the best dog shampoo for sensitive skin on the market today. Made from natural plant-based ingredients, including Aloe Vera and colloidal oatmeal, the shampoo has been formulated for dogs with sensitive skin. It's non-irritating and hypoallergenic, as well as being soap-free. It uses coconut-based cleaning ingredients that will not only comfort your dog's sensitive skin but will also leave their coat looking shiny.
Earthbath is eco-friendly, their product is biodegradable, is naturally scented, and has zero harsh chemicals. It won't wash off topical flea treatments and the Aloe Vera and Oatmeal work to moisturize and relieve sensitive skin. Rather than stripping the natural oils of your dog's skin and coat, this shampoo works to spread those oils throughout the fur to keep it looking shiny and healthy.
6. FURminator deShedding Dog Shampoo
Best Dog Shampoo for Shedding
If you need a shampoo for your dog's long hair that seems to shed everywhere, Furminator has the shampoo for you.
A lot of long-haired dog breeds seem to she an abundance of hair, especially during key times of the year. This means having to keep on top of grooming to prevent matting and tangling. Furminator shampoo has been specifically designed for heavy shedders. It uses natural ingredients, including 6 Fatty Acids, Omega 3, Calendula extract to soothe skin, and Papaya Leaf extract, which is known to help prevent shedding.
Less shedding also means less tangling and makes it easier to loosen the undercoat on many long hair breeds. The Shampoo works well at cleaning your dog's fur, leaving it with a healthy shine and moisturized skin.
The one downside is that you have to use this for a month before you see results. However, this is because no harsh chemicals are used like they are in quick working de-shedding shampoos.
7. Pro Pet Works Natural
Best Dog Shampoo for Dandruff
If you need a shampoo to treat dandruff and flaky skin on your dog, Pro Pet Works has the perfect dandruff shampoo for dogs.
This is a veterinarian-recommended product that has been formulated especially for dandruff, allergies, and skin sensitivities. It's also the best oatmeal shampoo for dogs. It contains natural oatmeal and Aloe Vera, which helps to combat and soothe dry skin, while the added almond oil works to condition hair, and to alleviate dandruff by re-moisturizing the skin. It leaves your dog's coat feeling silky.
There are no harsh chemicals in this product that can irritate the skin, which makes it a good choice for sensitive skin. It has a nice scent that works to eliminate odors and the added conditioner makes it easier to brush your dog's hair and detangle it easily.
The shampoo is free of soap, alcohol, and detergents, and can be used alongside flea treatments.
8. Douxo Chlorhexidine PS + Climbazole Shampoo
Best Dog Shampoo for Yeast Infection
This shampoo is a great choice if you have a dog with a superficial skin condition.
Douxo is a medicated, prescription-strength shampoo that you can purchase over-the-counter. It works to treat and prevent many of the common skin disorders that canines face, such as inflammation, flaking skin, irritation, and itching.
Chlorhexidine is known for its strong antiseptic properties in fighting bacteria. The shampoo is a foaming solution that is easier to apply. It was made specifically to help fight yeast and bacterial infections. It not only works to help skin conditions, but it also helps to add moisture back into your dog's skin using lipoproteins.
These work to coat, protect, and nourish the skin. This can help dogs to regain any hair that has been lost from over scratching. It leaves your dog with soothed skin and brings back their coat's healthy shine.
9. Seamus Cherry Blossom Professional Hypoallergenic, Whitening & Brightening
Best Dog Whitening Shampoo
If you have trouble keeping your white or light-haired dog looking clean, Seamus has the answer for you.
This shampoo can be used to brighten and whiten both white and dark coats. It works to reduce staining, brightens colors, and protects against yellowing that can occur in white-haired dogs. It's a soap-free shampoo that works to clean and nourish your dog's coat and skin, using no harsh chemicals.
The formula has been made with dogs who have sensitive, itchy, and dry skin in mind. The cherry blossom scent also lasts for quite some time due to pharmasome technology that penetrates the skin and is released over time. This makes the scent last much longer than other soaps.
The shampoo also contains conditioners to help keep your dog's coat clean, shiny, and soft. It's hypoallergenic, so can be used on dogs with allergies and sensitive skin.
10. PET CARE Sciences Puppy Shampoo
Best Puppy Shampoo
If you want a shampoo that is gentle enough to use on your puppy, Pet Care Sciences is a good option for you.
Puppies have more sensitive skin than adult dogs do, so they need something a bit more gentle when being washed. Made with natural coconut oil, oatmeal, and Aloe Vera, this shampoo is all-natural and works well for keeping your puppy clean. It also contains Omega-3, Omega -9, and the essential fatty acids growing puppies need.
It contains no harsh chemicals, sulfates, or parabens that can irritate your puppy's skin and eyes. It has a fruity scent to it that isn't too overpowering, but that will last for a few days. It also works to keep your puppy's coat feeling soft and looking shiny. Many buyers felt it was the best shampoo for puppies.
11. Friends Forever Natural Dog Shampoo Best Moisturizing Formula
Best Moisturizing Dog Shampoo
If your dog's hair and skin need that extra bit of moisturizing, Friends Forever has the best moisturizing shampoo for dogs.
This is a natural organic shampoo that is coconut-based to help condition the hair and skin. The formula was created to help stop itching and to relieve dry skin and brittle hair. It's also gentle enough to be used on dogs with sensitive skin. The anti-itch formulation will help to relive those hot spots on your dog.
The tear-free formula is antifungal, hypoallergenic, and antibacterial, making it a good option for dandruff, as it not only alleviates discomfort but also adds necessary moisture back into the skin to stop flaking. It has a very light green apple and chamomile scent that helps eliminate odors.
12. Everyday Isle of Dogs Silky Coating Dog Conditioner, Jasmine & Vanilla
Best Dog Conditioner
If your furry friend's hair needs that extra bit of conditioning after a wash, you will love this conditioner by Everyday Isle of Dogs.
This is a conditioner that is gentle enough to be used on a regular basis. Giving your dog's hair a lustrous, soft and silky feel, even for dogs with rough and unruly hair. It penetrates deep within the hair shaft for a more manageable and tangle-free coat. It also has a lovely warm jasmine and vanilla scent.
The conditioner uses ingredients, such as Aloe leaf juice, that work to strengthen the proteins in your dog's hair to give it smoothness and strength. It lathers well, rinses off easily, and won't leave behind a tacky sticky residue. It's a great option for dogs with long hair or curly hair and the moisturizing effects can be seen with the first use.
13. Wahl Pet-Friendly Waterless No Rinse Shampoo
Best Dry Dog Shampoo
If you and your dog are on the go quite a bit, or they just don't like water, this dry dog shampoo is perfect for you.
Wahl is a well-known company in the pet product industry, with over 50 years of experience. This no-rinse, pet-friendly waterless shampoo has a nice fresh oatmeal fragrance. It's formulated using all-natural plant-based cleansers, along with sage, lemongrass, oatmeal, and aloe. There are no harsh chemicals that will irritate your dog's skin.
It's pH balanced, paraben and alcohol-free, and PEG-80 free, so even pups with super sensitive skin can use this shampoo. It's really easy to use as well. All you have to do is spray it on and massage it through. Leave it for a short time and then towel dry your dog and brush their fur.
This shampoo also helps with shedding because it will remove any loose hair from the coat. It is also good at combatting odor.
Dog Shampoo FAQ's
Now that we've covered what to look for in a good dog shampoo and have gone over a number of dog shampoo options, we are going to move on to some frequently asked questions.
Q. Can you use human shampoo on a dog?
A: It is not recommended. Dogs have skin that is more sensitive than ours, and human shampoos can be too harsh for their skin and coat. They can have a negative impact on your dog's ability to maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin, and can often cause irritation.
Q. How to shampoo a dog?
A. How often your dog needs to be washed will depend on its breed, coat, size, and activity level. Dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors will need to be washed more often than indoor dogs. To make bath time more appealing and less stressful to your dog, it's important to make sure you are cleaning them the right way.
Using lukewarm water, wet your dog's body, leaving the head and face. It's best to start from the neck back. Make sure their fur is fully saturated. Next, apply your shampoo. For dogs with thicker hair, it can help to pre-mix your shampoo with some water to allow it to spread and lather more easily. Gently massage the shampoo into their coat following the direction of their fur.
Never apply shampoo to your dog's face and head. If you do need to clean it, use a damp washcloth.
Make sure you lather up all areas of the body, including the tail, paws, groin, etc.
Some shampoos need to be left on for a minute or so. While you wait, use a damp cloth the clean your dog's face if needed.
Now you can rinse your dog until you see the water running clear. You want to make sure you get all of the shampoo out because residue can irritate your dog's skin, When rinsing, start from the neck and pour down the back. Never dump water, or spray water over their head and face.
This method works for a dog of any size.
Q. How to make (homemade) dog shampoo?
A. Not everyone wants to use a shampoo that is full of chemicals, so they opt to make their own chemical-free dog shampoo. You can find a lot of recipes online, even those that include flea remedies. Be careful with any natural products you use though, and always check with your vet to make sure they are pet safe. Here are a few to get you started.
A simple homemade dog shampoo recipe
Pour all of your ingredients into a jar (pour the dish soap in first). Shake vigorously until all ingredients have been evenly mixed. You can then pour this mixture into an empty bottle, ready to use for your dog's next bath.
Rosemary can help make your pet's coat look shiny after a bath.
Boil water and let the rosemary steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture to remove the rosemary leaves and let the liquid cool to room temperature. Once you have washed and rinsed your dog, pour the rosemary water over their fur (avoiding the head).
Natural Oatmeal Shampoo for Itching
Take one cup of oatmeal and grind it in a blender or food processor. You want it to have a flour-like consistency. Pour it into a large bowl and add the baking soda, then gradually add 1 quart of warm water and blend well. To use this mixture, thoroughly wet your dog and then lather the oatmeal mixture in. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse well.
Things Not to Use
There are products that you should avoid using in your homemade dog shampoo.
For example, if you are using liquid dish soap, make sure it doesn't contain the following:
Also, never use laundry detergent. It has ingredients that are very toxic to pets. Adding to this are any all-purpose or bathroom cleaners.
Q. Can I use Dawn dish soap to wash my dog?
A. Yes, Dawn is one of the safer dish soaps that can be used to wash your dog. It has deodorizing and cleaning properties that cut through dirt and grease. The lavender version of Dawn dish soap can also help repel fleas.
Q. What can I use to wash my dog if I don't have dog shampoo?
Aside from using dish soap, as mentioned above, there are other household items that will work as a dog shampoo in a pinch. Using human shampoo is not the best option, as it has the wrong pH balance that a dog needs. Also, be careful of any essential oils that may be found in dish soaps because some can make your dog ill if they are not washed off properly and they end up ingesting it when licking.
If you need a safe dog shampoo alternative, you can mix ¼ cup of Dawn (or other safe dish detergents), ½ cup of vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water. Put this in a spray bottle and shake it well. You can use this to spray on your dog's coat and then lather up and rinse well.
Q. How often can I bathe my dog with flea shampoo?
Bathing your dog with a flea shampoo will help give them immediate relief from scratching and itching. Depending on how severe the flea problem is, you would normally use a flea shampoo every 1 to 2 weeks.
Never use a cat flea shampoo on your dog. It has different ingredients that can be toxic to dogs.
Q. How to wash a dog without dog shampoo?
If you don't have shampoo or are in a situation where water is a bit scarce, such as when you are camping, you can make your own dry dog shampoo to help keep your dog tidy.
If you want a dry shampoo alternative, you can use cornstarch or baking soda on your dog's fur. First, brush them well to remove loose fur and dirt. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of baking soda or cornstarch over your dog's fur. Massage this in using your fingers and then brush them down to help distribute the powder.
How to bathe a puppy without dog shampoo?
Puppies have sensitive skin, so you need to take care that any alternative ingredients you use won't irritate them. This means you may not be able to use dish detergent on your puppy. However, a shampoo recipe for sensitive skin is as follows:
Mix 1 quart of water, 1 cup of liquid castile soap, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup of glycerine, and 2 tablespoons of Aloe Vera gel. The glycerine and Aloe Vera will help soothe a puppy's sensitive skin.
What shampoo do dog groomers use?
Most dog groomers will go for a high-quality product that has a lot of protein ingredients in it. This is because it makes a dog's coat more manageable, soft, and protects their skin against dryness. For dogs with irritated skin that needs calming, dog groomers will opt for one that uses oatmeal.
How long does dog shampoo last?
Dog shampoos will expire over time, and it's important to keep track of those expiry dates. Flea shampoos can expire sooner than regular dog shampoos because of the medicated ingredients used in them. An ordinary bottle of dog shampoo can last between 6 months to 1 ½ years old. Never use an expired shampoo on your dog.
What shampoos should dogs avoid?
There are some shampoos that dog owners should avoid using on their dogs. At the top of this list are shampoos made for human beings. They don't have the correct pH balance and can throw off the pH balance of your dog's skin, and its health.
There are also some dog shampoos that can have controversial ingredients in them and are best to avoid, such as:
Here are some other dog shampoo ingredients that you will want to avoid: Propylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, phthalates, parabens, methylparaben, formaldehyde, cocamidopropyl betaine, isopropyl alcohol and isopropyl (sd-40).
What About You?
We've learned a lot today regarding shampoo and our furry friends. So, which will you choose? Well, it depends on what your dog needs. From allergies to whitening fur, the right shampoo will be the one that suits your dog's skin and coat type.
I liked the Burts Bees Oatmeal Shampoo for its nice smell and because it uses all-natural ingredients. But there are plenty of other worthy shampoos to choose from.
Hopefully, the reviews and buying guide will help you find the right pet shampoo for your loyal friend! Either way, we’d love to hear your comments, questions or suggestions down below.
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