Last updated: 06/09/2020

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Every dog owner knows that dogs love nothing more than playing in the mud. Not a day goes by where your dog does not come back fom a walk covered in muck, dirt, leaf litter or just plain mud. We owners are the ones who have to wash them to keep them clean and to keep them from tracking their dirt all over the house.  It is only normal that, day after day, a question forms in our minds: “Should I buy a special dog shampoo?”

Dogs love to get outside and enjoy nature, play with their doggy friends and interact with humans. Keeping your dog healthy and clean is one of the most important responsibilities of being a dog owner. This means taking care of your dog’s coat, as well as the rest of their body. Continue reading if you are ready to dive with us into the world of dog shampoo. We will tell you everything there is to know about dog shampoo.

Key Facts

  • Dogs have a different skin pH than humans, so it is not a good idea to use human shampoo on your dog. If you do, it’s likely to irritate your dog’s skin and can cause problems in the short and long term.
  • Dog shampoo is essential because it keeps your pet’s coat nice and clean. We mentioned that when dogs are most happy is when they are covered with dirt and grime. But to prevent health problems, and keep your dog smelling clean and fresh, it is necessary to wash your your dog at least once a month and to brush them every day, depending on the amount and type of fur they happen to have.
  • You should also take into account certain situations, such as whether your dog is losing a lot of fur, if your dog is molting or if your dog has fleas. If any of these situations occur, in addition to shampooing your dog, you should take them to the veterinarian, so that a professional can let you know how best to proceed with any special washing techniques or treatments. They may also recommend a special brand of dog shampoo or prescribe you a medicated dog shampoo.

Our Selection: The Best Dog Shampoos on the U.S. Market

In this section you will find a list of the best dog shampoos currently on the U.S. market. To help you out even more, we have done the work for you and have performed an analysis and a brief summary of each shampoo, covering the main characteristics of each. This will make it easier for you to buy the right one of these products for your furry friend.

The Best Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo 

Number 1 on our list of dog shampoos on the U.S. market is Pet Pleasant Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoo for dogs & puppies with sensitive skin. Designed to be hypoallergenic & extremely soothing for your dog’s flaky, dry skin using natural ingredients, such as jojoba. Our clinical strength shampoo protects & combats skin irritation on your dog’s fur.

Enhanced with lavender essential oil, our formula is extra calming. Lavender has a homeopathic comforting effect making him easier to bathe and control his dog odor. Vet recommendeed clinical formula using pure high quality ingredients for an extra strength cleanse and odor remover. Our ingredients restore essential oils while combating skin irritants. This shampoo is a must for tear free pet care.

The Best All-Natural Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Dog Shampoo And Conditioner is recommended by Vetsand is specially formulated for pets with allergies to food, grass and flea bites. Can be used for dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits. It is PH-balanced for sensitive skin and does not contain sulphates.

The organic aloe vera and almond oil is therapeutic and soothing for your pet’s skin and coat. Keeps your pet smelling fresh.  Makes for a soft, easy to brush, coat that will make your pet feel clean and smell clean several days after bathing. Tough on dirt, not your pet. Helps to deoderize stinky pets.

The Best Odor Control Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

Nature’s Miracle pet stain and odor removers have been a trusted brand for pet mess cleanup for more than 35 years. Whatever pets do, you can trust Nature’s Miracle stain and odor removers, training aids, disinfectants and litter products to undo. When strong dog odors start to crinkle your nose, it’s time for Nature’s Miracle Skin & Coat Natural Oatmeal Shampoo & Conditioner with Supreme Odor Control!

The 4-in-1 formula neutralizes odors, deodorizes, freshens, and cleans and conditions your dog’s skin and coat. This combination shampoo and conditioner neutralizes a wide variety of odors on contact by forming an odor control complex. It’s effective for long-term odor control and freshens your pup with a light honey sage scent you and your family will appreciate.

This oatmeal formula soothes and hydrates the skin, and the natural cocoa surfactant shampoo not only offers exceptional cleaning and conditioning but also helps eliminate static electricity and helps maintain skin’s essential oils. Use only on dogs. Avoid contact with eyes – see product label for complete instructions. This product is soap-free and is safe to use with spot-on flea and tick products, if your spot-on product is used as directed by the manufacturer. Contains no dyes or parabens.

The Best Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo

Veterinary Formula® Clinical Care™ Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo for Dogs provides a safe way to treat parasitic infections and seborrhea in dogs. This shampoo contains coal tar, salicylic acid and micronized sulfur to hydrate and heal damaged skin while combatting the bacterial or yeast infections that cause this damage.

The veterinary-grade ingredients in our topical 16 oz. bottle of Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated Dog Shampoo are proven to treat, hydrate and heal multiple skin conditions such as dermatitis, mange, seborrhea, parasitic and bacterial infections. Powerful medications salicylic acid, coal tar and micronized sulfur treat the infection, while colloidal oatmeal and allantoin hydrates skin and promotes healing.

The spray is veterinarian recommended, safe, paraben, dye and soap free, and great for dogs with sensitive skin. You can also use it with other topical spot-on flea and tick treatments

The Best 4-in-1 Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

Wahl four in one is formulated with lavender and chamomile to clean, condition, detangle, and moisturize your dog. This all in One formula makes bath time Easy for you and your dog while leaving your dog’s coat clean, silky and smooth. Plant derived ingredients make Wahl shampoo the choice for owners who want to avoid harsh chemicals for both their dog and themselves. Our shampoo is PEG-80 free

Made in the USA, our lavender & chamomile shampoo is highly recommended. Our shampoo is pH balanced, alcohol free, paraben free and PEG-80 free. Wahl has a higher concentrate of coconut Derived sodding agent, so you don’t have to use as much as regular shampoo. A little bit goes a long way for a rich lather that is easy to rinse.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Dog Shampoo

It is very important that before you buy a shampoo for your dog, you are informed about what you need in terms of a product, such as: the ingredients, type of dog’s coat, an hair loss issues, allergies, topical problems, or others. That’s why we’re going to answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to buying a dog shampoo.

After going to the vet and buying flea treatments or anti-parasitic tablets, it is highly recommended to get a good anti-flea shampoo as well to help repel any new infestations.
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What is dog shampoo and what are the advantages of using one?

Dog shampoo is a liquid soap specifically made for our four-legged friends. It is very surprising that many people believe that it is fine to use a human shampoo to wash your dog–what’s good for me is good enough for Rover, right? This would be a mistake, though, as you could cause your dog to develop a skin irritation, since, as we mentioned, dogs and humans have different pHs.

Also, there is never a lack of salespeople who try to convince us that there is a “general” shampoo for all kinds of breeds or coats. That’s why it’s necessary to invest in a good shampoo that is made specifically for your pet’s coat. Besides, in cleaning your pet’s coat well to protect it from undesirable elements, dog shampoo gives your pet’s coat a soft feel and a very pleasant smell, making it a lot nicer when playing or spending time with your dog.

Here’s a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of dog shampoos:

Advantages
  • Keeps hair clean
  • There are specific types for different skins types
  • Multitude of scents to choose
  • Protects your pet from bugs and parasites
  • The hydrolipidic layer (which provides protection to the coat) is restored 24 hours after bathing
Disadvantages
  • A large amount of natural oil can be removed from the hair after each bath
  • Special attention must be paid to the individual needs of your pet, as a product error can lead to skin problems

What are the differences between human shampoo and dog shampoo?

There are a number of misconceptions about whether our personal shampoo at home is fine for our dogs. We can definitively say no, for two key reasons: the composition of the products (ingredients, thickness or concentration) and the natural degree of acidity of the skin (a tissue composed of the dermis and epidermis that all mammals have).

Let’s look at the two main differences in a bit more detail:

  • Composition. This is one of the main differences between these two types of shampoos, as the coat and skin of dogs require a greater concentration of soap, but this may be lowered with water to a certain extent. The higher concentration of soap is required because the skin of the dog is usually more exposed than ours to all kinds of factors such as weather, dirt or insects.
  • pH. The “pH” is the factor that indicates the level of acidity of the skin. While the acidity of human skin is 5.5, the acidity of dogs tends to vary between 7 and 7.5. So if you use a human shampoo on your pet you can actually cause long-term problems.

Some people don’t see the importance of dog shampoos, however they are critical to keeping your pet healthy.
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We hope we were able to convince you not to use your own personal shampoo on your pet. We’ve explained the two main reasons for buying specialized dog shampoo, but we still have a lot more information to share with you. Read on to find out more tips and useful information about dog shampoos and how best to use them.

What types of dog shampoos are available?

All the options regarding the types, brands and specific characteristics that we can find when looking for a dog shampoo that fits our pet’s coat can be quite overwhelming. But, fear not, we have classified the available shampoos for you in advance, so that you can decide which type of dog shampoo is best for your dog, rather than running out of the pet supply store not knowing what to do:

Age of the pet Coat (short, long or white) Special needs (atopic skin, allergies or parasites)
Puppy Short coat Antiparasitic
Adult Long coat Hypoallergenic
Elderly White coat Soothing

At what age can a puppy be shampooed?

It’s totally normal that you want to use dog shampoo as soon as possible, especially since puppies always seem to get dirty. However, proceed with caution! It is recommended that you only start to use dog shampoo when the your puppy is at least 3 months old because there will be less chance of them getting sick from any allergies or irritations.

Also, you shouldn’t just use any old kind of dog shampoo because your puppy needs a suitable shampoo for their delicate skin and fur. So, if you are lucky enough to have a cute little puppy, look at the label that indicates it is suitable for young dogs. Remember: try to adapt your purchase to the type of fur and special needs of your dog. Even if it doesn’t seem important, everything matters when it comes to using dog shampoo.

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Does the type of fur dictate the type of dog shampoo?

Definitely. It is very different maintaining a dog with long fur from maintaining one with short fur, mostly because of the problems caused by knots or tangles in the hair. For that reason, if your dog has a dense, long coat, it is advisable to brush your dog every day, which will reduce the level of shedding hair and dirt around the house.

What about aesthetics? When there are knots in your dog’s hair, in addition to leading to skin problems in the long run, your dog will look uncared for. With a good shampoo for your dog, you will be able to take them out and show off that soft, shiny, silky hair to the entire neighbourhood. It’s true that caring for your dog can take a lot of time, but it’s definitely worth it.

My dog has fleas, what dog shampoo should I use?

It’s normal for your dog to bring home one of these undesirable bugs, especially if they have been rolling around in the grass at the park or running around at a farm or in the woods. In addition to fleas, it’s not uncommon for ticks, worms and other pests return along with your dog after an outing. This is a totally normal fordogs, so don’t stress, there’s always something you can do about it.

Now, how do you proceed if your unfortunate four-legged friend has contracted fleas? First of all, you should put on some plastic or latex gloves and inspect the dog’s entre body to determine where the fleas are located. As soon as you see one, don’t panic, but…it means there are more. To keep the house from becoming infested, you do have to act as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that a puppy doesn’t have the same needs as an adult dog.
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After going to the vet and purchasing flea treatments or anti-parasitic tablets, it is highly recommended that you get an anti-flea shampoo that serves as a repellent to keep the fleas from coming back. With this, more than just preventing more fleas, you will be causing any fleas already in your dogs fur, to die.

Once you’ve brought your dog home, you can bathe your pet with warm water, and wash it with two or three rounds of this anti-flea shampoo. Afterwards, dry your dog well and keep them indoors for a few days. We also strongly recommend that you wash all their toys, blankets and bedding in the washing machine with very hot water as well as cleaning your house thoroughly to keep the fleas from striking back.

What dog shampoo do I need if my pet scratches a lot?

You will need to find the root cause of any scratching as it could be necessary to contact a veterinarian for consultation. You should pay close attention to whether the scratching lasts for a long time, if you start to see blood or if your dog whines for no apparent reason. One or more reasons are usually identified for the scratching:

  • Delicate skin: atopic, sensitive, prone to irritation or dry.
  • Allergies: allergic to materials in contact with their skin, to other shampoos or to insect bites.
  • Skin infections: scabies or pyoderma, among others.

In most cases, we strongly recommend that in the event of aggressive and long-lasting scratching, that you contact your vet as soon as possible. Only a trained professional will be able to advise you regarding exactly what the issue is and what the treatment options are.

How to apply dog shampoo correctly.

So you’ve made it to the point of washing your dog. You have the shampoo bottle in your hand and you’ve managed to prevent the dog from jumping out of the bathtub. Now what? Well, first of all, control the temperature of the water, making sure it is warm, so that your dog is comfortable and calm, but not too hot. The idea when washing a dog, is that they will be relaxed and not looking for a way to escape.

Once you’ve given your dog the first pass with the warm water, it’s time to give them a first coat of shampoo. Use a sufficient amount: more product will make them cleaner. But don’t overdo it, if you do, it is likely that there some shampoo will remain in the animal’s fur, which increases the chances of more scratching.

The shampoo you purchase must be specifically created for your pet’s age and coat type.
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It is best to massage your dog’s coat vigorously when washing it, so that the shampoo reaches down to the roots of the hairs. Pay special attention to the areas around the ears and eyes, because they are delicate and your dog might be a bit uncomfortable when washing these areas. In any case, the challenge is usually keeping your dog still throughout the entire process, which, from experience, is very difficult.  Expect to get wet and to need a shower yourself when you have finished bathing your dog.

Finally, you need to rinse your dog with plenty of water and then apply a second coat of dog shampoo if your dog has long hair. Try to think of this time as an opportunity to cae for and bond with your pet, as they usually love it when you stroke them and give them all that attention.

Shopping Criteria

You’ve come this far. That means you are highly interested in finding a quality shampoo for your doggy friend. We will now review what you need to keep in mind when you buy shampoo for your furry friend. We hope you understand that it’s not just about buying the first one you find online. We identify 5 key criteria:

Pet Lifestyle

Dogs jump, run, lick, roll around on the ground among many other “doggy” movements. Even though dogs always seem to get dirty when outside, leaving the house is an important activity for a dog’s well-being. That’s why you should always take your dog for a walk even if it means returning with a dirty animal that you will have to wash. That being said, a dog that lives in the city has a very different lifestyle than a dog that lives in the country or on a farm.

The shampoo you purchase must be specifically created for your pet’s lifestyle and characteristics. Think about your dog’s needs and lifestyle, and if in doubt, consult your vet for advice.

Dogs can give off a bad odor if they eat poor-quality food or remain dirty for too long.
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Soap Quality

The soap quality of shampoo for dogs is a factor that is highly recommended for you to investigate. The shampoo that you use for your hair always contains the best products, so this thinking should also apply to your pet’s shampoo in the same way. It is a common mistake to think that dogs are made of steel and any old shampoo or even bath soap or dish liquid will keep them clean.

To verify the quality of the shampoo, it is important to read the label on the bottle (ingredients, mode of application, frequency of use, etc.) and to take more into account than just the brand. We also recommend observing the opinions of professionals or other consumers.

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Did you know that dogs are estimated to be one of the very first domesticated animal species.

Shampoo Composition

Does your dog have skin problems? If this is the case, avoid shampoos composed of elements such as colorants, parabens, deodorants, salt or phosphates. These ingredients can severely damage or irritate your dog’s skin, causing many long-term problems.

Instead, choose soaps that tend to include natural components, such as aloe vera, oatmeal, glycerin, honey, soy or jojoba and look for products with little or no added scents. This way, you will provide nutrients to both your pet’s fur and their skin, calming itching and avoiding excessive infections caused by scratching.

Remember that it is important to dry your dog after washing to keep him comfortable.
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One of the beneficial properties of aloe vera is its antibacterial properties, which protects the dermis of our dog while also providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Jojoba is a plant whose oil revitalizes the coat to repair and regenerate the skin. As for oatmeal, it has powerful healing and soothing properties for your dog’s skin and coat.  Use whatever is going to make him feel the best.

Smell

Not all dogs smell the same. There are some dogs that tend to have a milder smell while there are other dogs that, even without having “accidents,” give off a particular smell. It is important to choose a good dog shampoo that addresses these needs and neutralizes any unpleasant smells. Just like people, not all dogs smell the same.

On the market there are many options, and shampoos with fruit extracts such as watermelon, strawberry, peach or banana offer some of the best smelling coats. These types are the richest and longest-lasting, giving the hair and skin of our pet a pleasant smell for longer. But remember to think about whether your dog likely wants to smell like fruit or just “clean.”

Frequency of Use

You can also analyze how often you should bathe your pet. This can depends on the dog’s age (as a puppy doesn’t have the same needs as an adult), skin type, fur density, size of dog and breed type. If you take your pet for a walk several times a day and if your dog is very active, or if he or she tends to be quieter. These factors will contribute to how often you will be washing your dog.

There are some dogs that can withstand going a long time without being washed due to their physical characteristics or lifestyle. Some dogs can stay clean for up to 6 months without needing to be washed. However on the other hand, there are other dogs that need to be washed at least once a week if they are out in the mud, swimming or in some cases, working on farms.

Summary

Properly caring for you dog is an important part of being a responsible dog owner. Simply feeding them and taking them for a walk is not the only responsibilities you have. Keeping your dog clean is a responsibility that cannot be ignored as a dog owner. After reading this article, something as simple as dog shampoos are actually important decisions for day-to-day coexistence with our pets.

We are delighted to be able to bring you this analysis and buying guide to the best products that exist today on the dog shampoo market. We sincerely thank you for the time you have invested in reading our article and we encourage you, if you enjoyed it, to comment below and share the article on social media.

(Source of featured image: Susan Richey-Schmitz: 43621352/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Alexandra Williams Dog Expert and Trainer
Alexandra works as a dog trainer and is the owner of a dog school. She rescued three stray dogs from her local animal shelter and basically knows everything there is to know about dog training and dog food. She enjoys writing all about these loyal animals.