dog shampoo

The Best 6 Dog Shampoos: Our Top Picks + Reviews

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Best Dog Shampoos Summary

Why Do Dogs Need Their Own Shampoo?

Why Do Dogs Need Their Own Shampoo

Dogs need their own shampoo because their skin needs are different from those of human skin. Human shampoo is made to meet the needs of human hair and skin, not dogs.

Human skin differs from dog skin in many ways. One of the main differences between human and dog skin is the pH level. pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity.

Human skin is more acidic and ranges from 5.5 to 5.6, while dog skin is more neutral and has a pH of about 6.5-7.0.

Therefore, using human shampoo regularly on a dog will disrupt its pH balance and result in skin conditions like irritation, hot spots, and an increased risk of infections.

Plus, compared to humans, dogs have more sensitive skin. As a result, they need shampoos and pet care products with gentler and preferably natural ingredients.

What are the Types of Dog Shampoo?

There are many different types of shampoos for dogs. Each type has its specific purpose. To help you navigate the plethora of options, let’s explain the different shampoos for dogs.

Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs. Flea and tick shampoos contain anti-parasitic ingredients that kill external parasites like fleas and ticks. Some have residual efficacy – they prevent re-infestations for a certain time.

Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs. Oatmeal shampoos are made with colloidal oatmeal or oat flour and are perfect for dogs with sensitive skin or irritated skin. Oatmeal soothes, nourishes, and provides healthy hydration.

Medicated Dog Shampoo. Medicated shampoos are used in the treatment of skin issues as they contain ingredients with medicinal features. For example, the antiseptic shampoo has a broad-spectrum antibacterial efficacy.

Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin. This type of shampoo is formulated exclusively to help dogs with dry skin. It usually contains highly moisturizing natural ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera, coconut oil, and buttermilk.

Deshedding Shampoo for Dogs. This shampoo is made with ingredients that strengthen dog hair and provide shed control. They are ideal for long-haired dog breeds and dogs with short coats during shedding season.

Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin. As the name suggests, the anti-itch shampoo is formulated to control itchiness in dogs. The anti-itch shampoo usually contains soothing ingredients such as oatmeal and is safe for sensitive skin.

Dog Shampoo for Allergies. Anti-allergy shampoos have a soothing effect on irritated skin. They can also help restore the skin’s natural oils, thus improving its barrier against allergens. Shampoos are not a treatment but are helpful.

Dog Dandruff Shampoo. The dandruff shampoo helps reduce flaking and dandruff formation on the dog’s coat. It works by increasing the hydration of the dog’s skin which in the long run decreases flaking.

Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo. The hypoallergenic shampoo is made for dogs with sensitive skin and dogs prone to allergies. It features a mild and gentle formula made with natural or even organic ingredients.

Mange Shampoo for Dogs. This shampoo is made to help get rid of mites on dogs. Mange is a skin condition triggered by the presence of mites (pesky little parasites that live in the dog coat and surface of the skin).

Antifungal Dog Shampoo. The antifungal dog shampoo contains medications like miconazole or ketoconazole and eliminates fungal skin infections. In addition to shampoo, a dog with such an infection might need oral antifungals.

Dry Shampoo for Dogs. The dry shampoo (also known as waterless) is usually in the form of foam or powder. Waterless shampoos are designed to be used on the go or when the regular bath is not an option.

The Best Dog Shampoos Reviewed

If you scan the shampoo section on Amazon or Chewy, you will find hundreds of products. So, how to know which one is the best? To help you decide, we selected and reviewed the seven best dog shampoos.

Honest Paws 5-in-1 Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner

Honest Paws 5-in-1 Oatmeal Shampoo

Get it on Honest Paws          Get it on Amazon

Summary: This shampoo is designed to fit your dog’s entire washing routine in one bottle. The shampoo cleans, conditions, deodorizes, moisturizes, and detangles your dog’s fur. The shampoo contains oatmeal as the main ingredient which makes it hydrating and soothing to your dog’s fur and skin. The detangling capability of the shampoo keeps your dog’s fur from matting after a wash. Plus, it is scented with a light coconut.

Scent: Coconut

Key Ingredients: Oatmeal, aloe extract, coconut

Pros

  • Oatmeal-based formula
  • Aloe vera for a soothing effect
  • Multipurpose 5-in-1 shampoo
  • Free from sulfates, parabens, and DEA
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Often out of stock due to high demand

Review: The Honest Paws shampoo is a hit among dog owners. Dog owners that have tried it say it is excellent at keeping their dogs clean without stripping their skins of their natural oils during bath time. Dogs with skin issues like itching and sensitivity experience improvement after just one wash.

 

Pro Pet Works Organic 5 in 1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

Pro Pet Works Organic 5 in 1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

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Summary: This 5-in-1 pet shampoo is exceptional for dogs with multiple skin issues. The hypoallergenic formula is made with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and almond oil. It is also rich in vitamin E, D, A, and B12. The shampoo is formulated to keep your dog’s natural oils locked. Plus, it has anti-bacterial properties and is suitable for all dogs over eight weeks.

Scent: Not specified

Key Ingredients: Oatmeal, organic salmon oil, organic aloe vera

Pros

  • High-quality organic ingredients
  • Contains vitamins A, D, E, and B12
  • Restores natural oils after a wash
  • Suitable for puppies over eight weeks
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • The shampoo’s fragrance is not specified

Review: Pet parents were pleased with how well this shampoo cleaned their dogs. They say that even though it strips all of the dirt off a dog, it is very gentle and well-tolerated even by dogs with irritated skin. They report a strong scent straight out of a bottle, but they say it evens out beautifully after you apply it to your dog.

WAHL Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo for Dogs

WAHL Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo

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Summary: The 50 years WAHL has in making products are evident in this shampoo. The shampoo is made with three key ingredients; coconut oil, lime, and verbena. It is designed to keep your dog’s coat well-moisturized and keep it from drying out. It lathers very easily and cleans your dog thoroughly, even with a small amount. It is pH balanced and contains no alcohol or parabens.

Scent: Light smell

Key Ingredients: Coconut, lime, and verbena

Pros

  • Premium-quality ingredients
  • Fresh, light, and pleasant scent
  • Highly moisturizing formula
  • Makes a very thick lather
  • Very cost-efficient product

Cons

  • Available in only one bottle size

Review: What dog owners love most about this shampoo is how economical it is. Instead of the standard 16 to 18 oz most brands have, WAHL has 24 oz. In addition to more product, the shampoo lathers very easily, requiring very little for a wash. Even if it is budget-friendly, this shampoo doesn’t compromise on quality. It washes dogs very well and keeps their coats in the best shape possible.

Tropiclean Papaya and 2-in-1 Pet Shampoo

Tropiclean Papaya and 2-in-1 Pet Shampoo

Get it on Amazon          Get it on Chewy

Summary: This 2-in-1 pet shampoo and conditioner contains coconut and papaya as two of the natural ingredients. It is pH balanced and free of dyes and parabens. To protect your package from leakages during transit or storage, the bottle has an indication cap under a reinforced cap. It is suitable for puppies 12 weeks or older and adult dogs.

Scent: Papaya and coconut scent

Key Ingredients: Coconut and papaya

Pros

  • Contains nourishing coconut and papaya
  • 2-in-1 formula that cleans and conditions
  • Sweet and lasting natural scent
  • Dye and paraben-free formula
  • pH balanced and pet-safe

Cons

  • Does not eliminate stains on the dog’s fur

Review: Both dogs and dog owners love this shampoo. It has helped dogs with different skin conditions such as eczema, dryness, itching, and allergies. The shampoo lathers easily, giving your dog an easy and quick but clean wash.

Jungle Pet Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo

Jungle Pet Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo

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Summary: For a product that will thoroughly clean your dog while still maintaining her coat health, try this Jungle Pet shampoo. The pet shampoo is highly moisturizing, hypoallergenic, deodorizing, and soothing to the skin. It is the perfect addition to a dog grooming routine as it is efficient at cleaning dog coats.

Scent: Pinacolada

Key Ingredients: Oatmeal and aloe vera

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic and fit for sensitive dogs
  • With nano-encapsulated vitamins
  • Moisturizing and deodorizing formula
  • Soap-free and without harsh chemicals
  • Can be used as a cat shampoo

Cons

  • Some owners dislike the tropical scent

Review: Overall, customers have good things to say about this shampoo. Amazon reviews describe it as effective at cleaning and keeping dog fur soft and shiny. Owners with dogs with white fur also appreciate how well the shampoo whitens after a bath. Finally, the pina colada scent also gets a lot of praise from dog owners.

TropiClean PerfectFur Short Double Coat Shampoo for Dogs

TropiClean PerfectFur Short Double Coat Shampoo for Dogs

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Summary: This dog shampoo is designed to deep clean even the dirtiest dogs while also reducing the shedding of fur. It is very popular among groomers and is especially great for breeds with two layers of short furs, such as Beagles, Labs, Rottweilers, and Pugs. It works wonders for exfoliating and has potent furminator-like features for shedding control.

Scent: Light, fresh citrus smell

Key Ingredients: Mild coconut/palm cleanser and cationic guar gum

Pros

  • Perfect for dogs with short double coats
  • Cleans, hydrates, and helps with shedding control
  • Refreshes the overall coat appearance
  • Free from parabens, sulfates, and dyes
  • Made in the USA with premium ingredients

Cons

  • Some dogs and owners may dislike the scent

Review: Customers highly recommend this product for many reasons, including its fresh smell, ability to clean, and soothing effects. The shampoo is gentle on dogs with sensitive skins and even improves the appearance of some. All in all, this product is a huge hit among dog owners.

What Kind of Shampoo is Best for Dogs?

The best shampoo for dogs is made with natural ingredients and provides several effects at once. It is also free from harsh chemicals and potential allergens and comes at an affordable price.

The Honest Paws 5-in-1 Oatmeal Shampoo and Dog Conditioner checks all these boxes and is, therefore, our favorite option as the best shampoo for dogs.

Honest Paws 5-in-1 Oatmeal Shampoo
  • Cleans, deodorizes, conditions and detangles coat, moisturizes skin-- Honest Paws Well is a one-step and easy to use premium dog wash. It is all you need to keep your dog’s fur and skin soft, moisturized and clean.
  • This wash uses the hydrating properties of soothing oats and aloe that replenishes the skin’s natural moisture while conditioning the fur. Prevent matting and irritation, and keep your pup happy with each bath.
  • This formula can be used on all breeds and on puppies over 12 weeks of age. It is dye-free, and it does not contain MEA, DEA, sulfates, or parabens.

What Should I Look for When Buying Dog Shampoo?

When shopping for the best shampoo for dogs, there are several factors worth considering. Let’s review each of them:

  • Ingredients. This is an important aspect of choosing a shampoo or any product for your dog. Always read the ingredient list to ensure the shampoo does not contain potentially hazardous chemicals. If you are unsure about an ingredient, talk to your vet.
  • Your dog’s Needs. Dogs have different skin & coat types and, therefore, different needs. Keep your dog’s specific needs in mind when choosing a shampoo. If your dog happens to have a medical condition, ask the vet about a medicated shampoo.
  • Price. Keep in mind that dog shampoo is a repeated purchase, meaning that you have to buy it over and over again. Choose a shampoo that fits your budget but also meets your dog’s requirements.
  • Brand Reputability. Purchase pet products from reputable brands. This is because they are more likely to have higher-quality products. To check the brand’s trustworthiness, go through the reviews of previous customers.

What Ingredients Should Not be in a Dog Shampoo?

What Ingredients Should Not be in a Dog Shampoo

Do not buy a dog shampoo if it contains one of these ingredients:

  • Parabens. These preservatives are commonly used in shampoo and other body care products. Avoid parabens because they have been found to penetrate the skin and cause hormonal disruptions, which increase the risk of certain cancers.
  • Sulfates. Sulfates are irritating to the eyes and can find their way into your dog’s internal organs. Commonly used sulfates in shampoos are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), TEA lauryl sulfate, MEA lauryl sulfate, and sodium coco sulfate.
  • Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is sometimes included in shampoos to prevent bacterial growth. Instead of classic formaldehyde, some brands use precursors (such as sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, Quaternium-7, -15, -31, -61).
  • Artificial Dyes. These are usually made with petroleum and may contain dangerous by-products of petroleum manufacturing. Pet shampoos and other products with artificial colors.
  • Propriety Blends. While this sounds like a good thing, it is a word companies use to get around telling you what is in the product. Unless the brand lists what the blend contains, consider it a bad indication.
  • Artificial Fragrances. Artificial fragrances are used to give shampoos a scent. Perfumed shampoo usually contains phthalates which are known hormone disruptors. If going for a scented shampoo, use one without artificial scents.
  • MEA or DEA. These are surfactants and are commonly added to pet care products. However, long-term exposure to MEA (monoethanolamine) and DEA (diethanolamine) is associated with increased cancer risk.

What Human Shampoo is Safe for Dogs?

No human shampoo is completely safe for dogs. Human shampoos are designed for acidic skin pH balance and are too harsh for dogs.

Plus, human shampoos contain ingredients that are potentially dangerous to dogs.

Basically, bathing a healthy dog with a natural human shampoo once is unlikely to cause a problem. However, more regular use will be detrimental to the dog’s skin and coat health.

Is it OK to Wash Your Dog With Baby Shampoo?

Yes, it is ok to wash your dog with baby shampoo. However, this is only in the case of an emergency.

Baby shampoo is a better alternative to a dog shampoo than regular human shampoos. This is because baby shampoos have a gentler formula and are less likely to irritate the dog.

Anyway, if using baby shampoo to bathe your dog, make sure you rinse the product very well and do not leave any residue.

How do You Make Homemade Dog Shampoo?

How do You Make Homemade Dog Shampoo

You can prepare a homemade dog shampoo with simple household ingredients in a few quick steps.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 cup of baby shampoo or gentle dish soap
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of glycerin
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera
  • Dog-safe essential oils like chamomile or tea tree

Instructions:

  • Putt all ingredients together in a bowl
  • Mix well until they are blended as one
  • Pour the mixture into a regular or spray bottle

The best part about making homemade dog shampoo is knowing everything that is inside. It is also a more affordable option.

However, the DIY shampoo should be an alternative and not your go-to option when the dog needs a bath.