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What Dog Shampoos Do Groomers Use? What Do They Normally Look For?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog taking a bath

If you’re like most dog owners, you probably give your pooch a bath every now and then at home. It’s not a difficult process, but it can be a little tricky to get the shampoo lather just right so that your pup is clean without getting soap in his eyes or feeling overwhelmed by the experience.

But did you know that there are different dog shampoos for different purposes? And that groomers have their own preferences when it comes to which shampoos they use?

Let’s look at what goes into choosing a dog shampoo and how you can make sure your pup is getting the best possible bathing experience—whether you’re doing it yourself or taking him to the groomer.

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Our Top 3 Groomer Recommended Dog Shampoos

When choosing a shampoo for your pup, groomers have their own preferences. But according to the professionals we spoke with, here are three shampoos that they tend to recommend the most:

1. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey

7Burt's Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey for Dogs

This shampoo is made with natural ingredients such as oatmeal and honey, making it a good choice for dogs with sensitive skin. The colloidal oat flour also helps to soothe and protect your pup’s skin.


2. Earthbath Eucalyptus & Peppermint Dog & Cat Shampoo

Earthbath Eucalyptus & Peppermint Dog & Cat Shampoo

This soap-free formula is designed to clean and deodorize your pet’s coat without stripping away the natural oils. It also features a refreshing eucalyptus and peppermint scent.


3. Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo

This product is a 2-in-1 formula that both cleans and conditions your dog’s coat. The lavender and mint scent is calming and soothing, making it a good choice for dogs that tend to be anxious during baths.

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Dog Shampoos Are Not Created Equal

Just like people shampoos, dog shampoos come in all sorts of varieties. There are shampoos for dogs with dry skin, oily skin, itchy skin, and so on. And just like with human shampoo, it’s important to use the right type of shampoo for your dog’s specific needs.

Different shampoos target different skin issues or types, as listed below:

  • Dry skin: These shampoos are often moisturizing and contain ingredients like coconut oil, oatmeal, or shea butter to soothe the skin.
  • Oily skin: These shampoos usually contain ingredients like tea tree oil or citrus extracts that help to remove excess oil from the skin.
  • Itchy skin: These shampoos often contain ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, or lavender that help to soothe and calm itchy skin.
  • Sensitive skin: Shampoos for sensitive skin are typically fragrance-free and contain fewer harsh chemicals.
  • Hypoallergenic: If your dog has allergies, you’ll want to choose a hypoallergenic shampoo. These shampoos are designed to be less irritating to the skin and are often fragrance-free.
a welsh corgi pembroke dog taking a bath with shampoo
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

What Do Groomers Look for In Dog Shampoo?

Efficacy

Groomers are experts when it comes to bathing and grooming dogs, so they know exactly what to look for in shampoo. They want a shampoo that will clean the dog’s coat without stripping away its natural oils, one that will help get rid of any dirt or debris without causing irritation, and one that will leave the dog’s coat looking shiny and healthy.

PH-Balanced

The pH of dog skins is different from humans. Human skin has a pH of around five or six, while dog skin has a pH of between five and seven. So, it’s important to use a shampoo that is pH-balanced for dogs, as human shampoos can be too harsh for dogs’ skin and cause irritation.

Harmful Ingredients

Some shampoos contain ingredients that can be harmful to your dog if they are ingested, others are harsh on skin, stripping it of oils. Be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing a shampoo.

Avoid shampoos that contain:
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALS)
  • PEG
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Artificial colors or preservatives
  • Parabens
french bulldog taking a bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

Scented or Unscented

Fragrances are often used in human shampoos, but they can be irritating to dogs’ skin. So if your dog has sensitive skin, it’s best to choose an unscented shampoo.

Scented shampoos have their benefits, too; they can help to mask unpleasant smells on a dog’s coat. Groomers often look for shampoos that target odors, rather than mask them.

Fit for Purpose

Groomers have an arsenal of their favorite shampoos, and choose the product based on the dog’s individual coat and skin type. This personalized care is what gets great results tailored to your dog’s needs.

What’s the Right Shampoo for My Dog?

Each dog breed and individual have differing needs when it comes to their shampoo. Grooming professionals can help you determine the best shampoo for your pup, but there are a few things you can look out for at home.

  • Coat type: Just like our own hair, fur comes in all sorts of textures and needs different types of care.
  • Coat layers: Dogs with a thick double coat will need a shampoo that is designed to penetrate the top layer of fur and cleanse deep down.
  • Skin type: Dogs with sensitive skin might need a gentler formula, free from harsh chemicals or detergents.
  • Activity level: Dogs that are constantly outside and playing will need a shampoo that is meant to combat dirt and odors.
  • Age: Puppy shampoos are often gentler on the skin than adult shampoos, but it is important to read the labels to make sure you’re not inadvertently harming your dog.
  • Climate: If you live in a warm climate, your dog will likely have more sweat and oil on their skin than dogs who live in colder climates.
labrador dog in grooming salon
Image Credit: fetrinka, Shutterstock

Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home

Bathing your dog at home can be a breeze or a true struggle, depending on your dog’s size, temperament, and general attitude towards baths. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five steps to stress-free bath time.

  • Fill a tub or sink with enough warm water to cover your dog’s body (the water should be comfortably hot, not scalding).
  • Pour a small amount of shampoo directly onto your dog’s coat and start massaging it in. Be sure to avoid getting any in their eyes.
  • Work the shampoo into a rich lather, and take care to get all over their body, including in their ears, between their toes, and around their neck.
  • Rinse your dog thoroughly with warm water, making sure to remove all the suds.
  • Gently towel dry them off (avoiding vigorous rubbing which can cause skin irritation).

beagle dog in the bath

If you live in a cold climate, you may want to consider using a dog coat or sweater after bathing to keep them warm until they’re completely dry and keep them inside, out of the elements.

The Benefits of Using a Professional Dog Groomer

For dogs with high maintenance coats, sensitive skin, or a particular disdain for baths, bathing at home can be a generally stressful experience. Luckily, groomers specialize in dog care and maintenance.

A professional dog groomer will have access to high-quality shampoos and conditioners that may be too expensive or not available to the average pet owner.

They will also have the experience and expertise necessary to properly bathe, groom, and style your dog’s coat, which can minimize shedding and tangles.

They are training in additional services such as:

  • Nail trimming
  • Ear cleaning
  • Anal gland expression
  • Teeth brushing

All of which can help keep your dog healthy and looking their best. So, if you’re not comfortable bathing your dog at home, or if you simply don’t have the time, using a professional groomer is a great option.

Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and health condition, a groomer may also recommend additional services that are specific to your pet.

It’s important to keep in mind that, like shampoos, not all groomers are created equal—some have more experience and expertise than others. Ask if your groomer has any experience with the breed of dog you have, and if they’re comfortable grooming dogs with health conditions.

dog deep cleansing bath
Image credit: karlinimrie0, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Giving your dog a bath is an important part of their grooming routine, and it’s something you can do at home with the right tools and knowledge. A great groomer-recommended shampoo is essential.

Bathing your dog at home can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it to have that special bond with your pet. With a little practice and some patience, you’ll be able to get your dog clean and looking great in no time.

If you’re not comfortable bathing your dog or if you don’t have the time, using a professional groomer is a great option.


Featured Image Credit: Roman Chazov, Shutterstock

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