Even the cleanest dog is going to need a bath at some point. When they do, having the right dog shampoo on hand is essential. Some dogs are more sensitive to shampoos than others. However, even if your dog isn’t particularly sensitive to shampoo additives, choosing the right shampoo can be the difference between having a dog with a shiny, healthy coat and one with itchy, red skin.
There are hundreds of dog shampoos on the market. Truthfully, it can be tough to tell the difference between them. Many hide behind marketing ploys and complicated ingredient lists. So what’s the best dog shampoo?
In this article, we’ll go over some of the best dog shampoos on the market. Most of these should be suitable for practically any canine – even those that have sensitive skin.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated 2022)
The 10 Best Dog Shampoos
1. Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo – Best Overall
The Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo is perfect for dogs with sensitive skin. That is what it is designed for, after all. However, it is genuinely an excellent shampoo for all dogs, even those that don’t have particularly sensitive skin. It is formulated with ingredients like oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil. All of these ingredients are great for our pet’s skin (and even our skin). Thus, it is suitable for dogs with skin problems or who have susceptible skin. This shampoo can even stop some allergic skin reactions, such as an allergic reaction to flea bites.
We like that this shampoo will not affect topical flea and tick treatment. You will not have to re-apply tick or flea treatments after using this shampoo, which can further prevent your dog’s sensitive skin from flaring up.
Finally, this shampoo also works very well. It is excellent at washing away allergens, relieving itchy skin, and preventing allergic reactions from happening to begin with. We liked that this shampoo is easy, though it does require you to leave it in for a few minutes.
2. Buddy Wash Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner– Best Value
For an extremely inexpensive formula, we liked the Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo. It is very cheap, even when compared to other inexpensive options. It is one of the least expensive options on the market. It comes in a 16-ounce bottle as well, so you’re still getting plenty. You can also buy a 1-gallon option if you need a lot of shampoo.
This shampoo is blended with conditioner, so you won’t have to use two different products. This saves you additional money. This is a gentle conditioner, though it isn’t necessarily suitable for pets with susceptible skin. It contains a variety of essential oils. These make them smell very good and can help with some skin problems. It has a lavender and mint scent, though the scent isn’t powerful in the least. We also liked that it contains sage, aloe vera, rosemary, green tea, and chamomile. These are high-quality products.
It is not tested on animals and is safe for humans, so you know it is high-quality and safe for your dog.
All in all, if you’re looking for a budget purchase then we think this is the best dog shampoo and conditioner.
3. Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog Shampoo – Premium Choice
For those who need a potent and effective shampoo, the Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog Shampoo is a reliable option. It has chlorhexidine and climbazole. These two ingredients can help control bacteria and fungi populations. If your dog has skin problems, this can be extremely helpful. It can control a variety of conditions and is sometimes suggested by vets for this reason. The lipacid in this shampoo helps restore your dog’s natural skin barrier by building up the natural chemicals on their skin.
This shampoo also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help redness and itching. It deposits a long-term film on your dog’s skin, which can protect their skin from irritants and allergens for an extensive period. If your dog has a lot of itchy skin that tends to pop up from time to time, this shampoo may help prevent it altogether.
With that said, while this is a reliable option for dogs with skin problems, it is also suitable for dogs that don’t have any particular skin problems. Of course, it is a bit more expensive than some options because of all the extra ingredients. If your dog isn’t particularly sensitive to allergens and doesn’t have skin problems, you may not need to invest so much in a shampoo.
4. Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo
Like many shampoos on our list, Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo is made with oatmeal. Oatmeal is a well-known ingredient that can prevent skin problems and reduce itchiness. If your dog has sensitive skin, you probably want to purchase a shampoo that contains this ingredient. This shampoo also includes aloe vera and vitamin E – two ingredients that can also help your dog’s skin health. If your pet has any sort of skin problem, these ingredients can be beneficial.
As you might imagine from the ingredients, this shampoo is designed to be anti-itch. It does work, though not necessarily as good as other options. It can reduce hot flashes, shedding, and brittle hair. However, it isn’t medicated, so you will not be able to treat more severe conditions with it.
It is lightly scented with vanilla and has an advanced odor-eliminating formula that can deodorize fur. It is also helpful at reducing knots and tangles. It is suitable for dogs of all ages as well.
Our main problem with this shampoo is that it seems not to be as gentle as others. It can cause a reaction in dogs with very sensitive skin.
5. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo
The Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo is another medicated shampoo. However, it uses different medications than those we have reviewed thus far. It includes medications designed to treat skin conditions like dermatitis, mange, parasites, and seborrhea. If your dog has one of these conditions, this is probably the shampoo you should purchase. Your vet will probably recommend it.
With that said, while this shampoo is excellent for treating those conditions, it probably isn’t going to be very helpful unless your pet has one of those conditions. There is no point in medicating your dog against these conditions if they don’t have them. This is not a very inexpensive shampoo either, so you’d be spending money on something you don’t need. This is the main reason why this shampoo is only #5 on our list. It is useful in particular circumstances and will not be the best option for most pet owners.
We did like that it is paraben, dye, and soap-free. It is incredibly gentle for dogs with skin conditions and is one of the better medicated options on the market.
6. PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Scented Dog Shampoo
As an extremely inexpensive shampoo, PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Scented Dog Shampoo may look like a good budget option. However, it isn’t the best on the market, and your money is probably better spent elsewhere. It isn’t bad by any means, but there were several things you may not like about it. Firstly, it does not smell very well at all. It is scented, but it smells overly perfumed. If you are sensitive to smells, you probably will not like it.
Secondly, it is very drying. This is mainly a problem on human hands; however, if it is drying on our hands, we know that it will probably be drying on our pet’s skin.
Besides those two somewhat minor points, this shampoo is a reliable option. It is pH-balanced to promote healthy skin and has plant-derived cleansers. It contains healthy ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E, which can help canines with sensitive skin.
7. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo For Dogs
Burt’s Bees usually makes fantastic products, so we were very excited to try the Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo. As the name suggests, this shampoo contains oatmeal, which can improve your dog’s skin health and help with itchiness. It is a prevalent ingredient in dog shampoos today for this reason. It also contains things like honey, which may also help your pet’s skin health. It is pH-balanced and designed to be gentle for sensitive skin. It doesn’t wash away topical flea and tick treatments, either. It can help with conditions like eczema and similar, minor skin problems.
This shampoo is 97% natural and cruelty-free. It does not contain any sulfates or colorants, so it tends to be quite gentle on sensitive skin.
With all that said, there are a few minor problems we discovered during our review. Firstly, this shampoo does not lather at all. This may seem like a small problem, but when you’re trying to bathe an aggressive dog, it can help to know where you’ve already put shampoo and where you haven’t. This is also an unscented product for the most part so that it won’t cover up any doggie smell.
8. TropiClean Luxury 2-in-1 Papaya & Coconut Dog Shampoo
The TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya & Coconut Pet Shampoo is advertised as a luxury shampoo. However, it is not medicated and does not contain anything incredibly unique. In general, it seems to be your average dog shampoo. It does not contain any soaps, so it will not interfere with your dog’s flea or tick treatments. It contains two scents – coconut and mango. We also found that it was quite good at detangling dog fur, so it is suitable for dogs with longer hair. It is enriched with coconut oil to cleanse the fur of dirt and excess oils.
It is gentle enough for both cats and dogs. You may find this feature particularly beneficial if you have multiple pets. However, if you don’t, the fact that you can also bathe cats with it probably won’t matter much to you.
Despite the mango and coconut additives, this shampoo doesn’t smell much like anything. This may or may not matter to you, though. We also discovered that this shampoo tends to leak during shipment, so don’t order it with any other items.
9. HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Dogs
While HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo is blatantly advertised as “hypoallergenic,” there isn’t anything special about it when compared to most other shampoos on the market. Furthermore, it is a bit more expensive than many other options, so we don’t particularly recommend it for this reason. There just isn’t a point in spending all the extra money on this shampoo when you can get something that is just as good for cheaper.
This shampoo is soap-free, like most other quality options, and it can control dry skin somewhat. However, it does not contain anything like oatmeal or aloe vera, which can help with a wide range of skin problems. It just isn’t going to be suitable for most dogs because of this. It is your average shampoo for a higher price than most shampoos on the market.
10. Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Dog Shampoo
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Shampoo is not one of our top recommendations. It is moderately priced – not as expensive as some options, but not the cheapest option available. This shampoo is advertised to reduce odors, cleans skin, and condition fur. It is quite useful against tangles, but this is about the only positive we gleaned from this product.
While it is advertised as smelling good, it doesn’t have much of a scent. Some people may like this. However, we found that the dog’s freshness doesn’t stick around for very long with this shampoo. It also isn’t nearly as gentle as some other options. There are lots of complaints about dogs having allergic reactions to this shampoo. If your dog already has sensitive skin, this will likely not be the right option for them.
This shampoo also required that you use a lot to get your dog cleaned. It seems to be a bit watered down and just isn’t as strong as other options. It isn’t incredibly cheap either, so you’re paying more for less product. You’ll run through it faster and likely spend more money than you would otherwise.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Dog Shampoo
When choosing a shampoo for your canine, there is a lot you need to keep in mind. A lot goes into a good shampoo, and there are quite a few things that can make a shampoo terrible as well. Luckily, if you have a bit of background knowledge, choosing a good shampoo can be pretty straightforward.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the best dog shampoo. A lot of the features you want in a shampoo will depend on your dog. If your dog has sensitive skin, you probably want a shampoo that will help their skin problems. For dogs with severe skin conditions, a medicated shampoo may be needed. We’ll discuss all of this below so you can choose the best shampoo for your canine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we jump into a feature-by-feature discussion, let’s go over some of the most common questions and misconceptions surrounding dog shampoo.
Can I use human shampoo on a dog?
For the short-term, yes. You can use human shampoo on a dog once or twice. It isn’t going to hurt them unless they have very sensitive skin or a particular skin condition that reacts negatively to human shampoo. For the large majority of dogs, human shampoo will not hurt them, however.
With that said, you do not want to use human shampoo for an extended period. Once or twice is okay. However, human shampoo just isn’t formulated for dogs. It is too acidic for the pH level of a dog’s skin to create problems over time. We recommend purchasing a dog shampoo as soon as possible. But, if you catch yourself in a rut and need to use human shampoo, go ahead.
How often should I bathe my dog?
This answer varies and depends on many different factors. On the one hand, some dog breeds need to be bathed more often than others. You may be able to get away with only bathing some dogs once a year, but others may need to be bathed every week. Some dog breeds have self-cleaning coats or do an excellent job of keeping themselves clean. Some dogs are so clean that they are likened to cats, which means you’ll probably never have to bathe them.
Another factor to keep in mind is how dirty your dog gets daily. If your dog spends most time inside, they probably aren’t going to roll in too much dirty or get fallen leaves stuck in their coat. At the same time, if your dog romps through the woods, they will probably get dirty more often.
Take these considerations into account when deciding when to bathe your dog. In general, if your dog looks or feels dirty, they probably need a bath!
Is dog shampoo bad for my dog?
There is some misinformation out there that says dog shampoo is bad for dogs. Some people encourage bathing your dog with human shampoo instead, or even using something like coconut oil. However, there are several problems with this. As we have discussed, human shampoo is the wrong pH for dogs. This can damage their skin over time. Furthermore, any “at home” shampoo you create probably isn’t the right pH either.
In general, dog shampoos are the way to go. However, not all dog shampoos are suitable for dogs, despite how they are advertised. Various ingredients are somewhat common in dog shampoos that are not very good for our canines. Fragrances, artificial color, and mineral oil are an example of these low-quality ingredients. For this reason, it is essential to do your research and choose a good shampoo – not just a subpar one.
Top Dog Shampoos: Features to Consider
When judging a dog shampoo, there are a few features you should consider. You need to consider your own needs and your dog’s particular situation when considering each feature.
Most shampoos are scented. However, you may be surprised by how many shampoos aren’t that scented at all. For most people, they may be okay with a shampoo that isn’t scented at all. With that said, though, some dogs may be particularly prone to “dog smell,” and therefore, you may want a scented shampoo.
This feature depends exclusively on your particular preference. Some people may get headaches around strong smells, which may make them seek out an unscented shampoo. Others may be dealing with particularly stinky dogs.
The main point of shampoo is how well it cleans your dog. If a shampoo doesn’t clean well, it is useless. Luckily, most shampoos do this pretty well. However, there are some out there that do not. Some may be a little too gentle and not combat dust and grime nearly as well as they should.
The best way to understand the effectiveness of a product is to read reviews like ours.
Dog shampoo can cost almost nothing, or it can be costly. Typically, it depends on the ingredients included in the dog shampoo. Medicated shampoos are typically costly because the medications cost more than your typical ingredients. On the other hand, shampoos with no unique ingredients are typically pretty cheap.
Cost is not necessarily tied directly to effectiveness. Some people don’t need medicated shampoos, so it doesn’t make much sense to spend the extra money on one. Not all dogs have sensitive skin or need unique ingredients to treat allergic reactions. The easiest way to save money is to purchase only what you need.
If your dog has a skin condition, a medicated shampoo may be necessary. You should speak to your vet about the specific medication you should be looking for. In some cases, your vet may be able to provide the correct shampoo on the spot. However, if they can’t or if you need to use the shampoo, purchasing a medicated shampoo continuously may be in order.
Different medicated shampoos contain different medications. You can not assume that one “medicated shampoo” contains the correct medication for your dog. Be sure to check the medications it includes as well as the conditions it is designed to treat.
With so many dog shampoos on the market, it can be challenging to figure out which one you need for your canine. Dog shampoos can vary quite a bit. Some are designed for sensitive skin, while others focus more on their effectiveness. Certain shampoos are suitable for long-haired dogs, though others don’t have the necessary detangling ingredients.
Our overall favorite shampoo is Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo. It is inexpensive while also containing effective ingredients like oatmeal and tea tree oil. It is suitable for most dogs, even those with sensitive skin.
If you need to spend as little as possible, we recommend choosing the Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo. It is less expensive than other options while remaining high-quality.
Which shampoo you choose depends on your particular dog’s needs. Read up on some of the necessary background information you should know in our buyer’s guide and look at our reviews for some specific recommendations.
Featured Image Credit: oritslama, Pixabay