Dog Shampoo Top Picks

There’s a wide variety of dog shampoos available to tackle your pup’s most unfortunate smells and stains. Check out our favorite medicated and non-medicated effective dog shampoos that won’t dry out or irritate your dog’s sensitive skin.

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Dog Shampoo Top Picks

There’s a wide variety of dog shampoos available to tackle your pup’s most unfortunate smells and stains. Check out our favorite medicated and non-medicated effective dog shampoos that won’t dry out or irritate your dog’s sensitive skin.

The Daily Dog is reader-supported. This page contains affiliate links; read more here.

Dechra MiconaHex + Triz Medicated Shampoo
Also Great, Medicated/Moisturizing:

  • Treats moderate to severe fungal and bacterial skin infections in dogs
  • Ingredients are explicitly chosen to battle bacterial and yeast infections
  • Helps treat skin infections while soothing skin and eradicating dandruff

4-Legger Organic Dog Shampoo
Also Great, Non-medicated/Organic:

  • Holistic essential oil blend
  • Softens your dog’s skin and hair coat without removing their natural protection
  • Synthetic-free, detergent-free
  • Free from parabens, sulfates, and synthetic preservatives

Rocco and Roxie Calm Sensitive Skin Shampoo
Also Great, N
on-medicated/for Sensitive Skin:

  • Gentle, natural shampoo for sensitive skin
  • Blend of high-quality, natural ingredients
  • Soothing, moisturizing shampoo with light honey scent
  • Backed by a 100% money-back guarantee
  • Hypoallergenic formula

Information as of 6/30/22

The Daily Dog does not provide veterinary advice. All information is general in nature and for informational purposes only. Always consult your veterinarian.

Ever catch a whiff of something unpleasant while snuggling with your dog? Sometimes it’s best not to think about what your dog just rolled in—especially if you share a bed with them!

Fortunately, a wide variety of dog shampoos is available to tackle your pup’s most unfortunate smells and stains. But how do you select the best shampoo for your four-legged friend? Our buyer’s guide will steer you in the right direction and help you choose the ideal shampoo to clean your pup’s luscious locks.

Using Human Shampoo on Dogs

You likely choose your own shampoo for your specific hair type (curly or straight; fine or thick; or flat or frizzy). A dog’s coat also comes in wide varieties, from silky and long, to double-coated and dense. Human shampoos do not cater to these hair types and can harm your dog’s fur and skin.

Human shampoo is designed for your more acidic skin, so it dries out dogs’ skin. Your dog’s skin is more alkaline, with fewer layers, so their skin is more sensitive. Your dog will lose essential oils if bathed using human shampoo. Dog shampoo is designed to be gentle on sensitive skin and preserve natural skin oils.

dog lying by dirty wheel

Also, human shampoo, formulated to care for your specific hair type, will not achieve the same goals for dogs’ fur. A canine shampoo can cater to your dog’s particular needs, whether they need a soothing, anti-itch shampoo, or a product to brighten their dull coat. Medicated shampoos that help battle yeast and bacterial infections, which you won’t find on your local drugstore shelves, also are available. 

Again, sticking to species-specific products when choosing your dog’s shampoo is best. In a pinch, baby shampoo will clean your dog’s dirty fur, but a product specifically designed for your dog’s hygiene needs will be more effective and better for their skin and fur.

How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Your Dog

So, if you must use a canine-specific shampoo for your dog rather than your own shampoo, how do you choose from the vast number of products available? Consider the following when selecting the best shampoo for your dog. 

  • Identify Your Dog’s Needs: First, determine what your dog needs in a shampoo to narrow down your options. For example, forgo a whitening shampoo if your dog is dark-coated or a medicated shampoo if your pup has no health problems but simply needs a good bath!

Dog shampoos can be categorized with the following characteristics:

    • Moisturizing — Moisturizing shampoos often contain ingredients that help soothe dry, irritated skin (i.e., vitamin E, oatmeal, honey, chamomile, aloe vera, jojoba, coconut oil, and avocado oil).
    • Conditioning — Conditioning shampoos—or separate conditioning products—help untangle silky fur and moisturize dry skin.
    • Deodorizing — The fruit, flower, and herb extracts in deodorizing shampoos make your dog smell fresh. These products also are gentle on sensitive skin.
    • Brightening — Quality brightening shampoos do not include harsh ingredients like bleach and peroxide but will remove stubborn stains and dirt in light-colored coats.
    • Waterless — If you don’t have the time to put your pup in the tub, use a waterless shampoo. Waterless shampoos are great for spot cleaning your dog’s smelly or dirty areas. Simply spray, scrub, and wipe dry.

Before purchasing your dog’s shampoo, determine the condition of their skin and hair coat and what you would like to achieve. Is his fur silky and tangled? Are you seeing flakes of dry skin in her fur? Whatever condition you are trying to manage—even simply eau de doggo—rest assured, there’s a dog shampoo for that! 

  • Avoid Unnecessary and Harsh Chemicals: Since dogs have sensitive skin, avoid shampoos that contain unnecessary or harsh chemicals. Your dog may also have particular allergies or sensitivities to certain shampoo ingredients.

    Stay away from products containing parabens, solvents, surfactants, and synthetic or artificial fragrances and colors, which can cause your dog many health issues, including a rash, dull hair coat, or dry skin.

    Artificial ingredients can be problematic for your dog, but natural ingredients can also be hazardous. For example, essential oils (e.g., tea tree, birch, and camphor) are toxic to dogs and can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues, and organ dysfunction.

    To choose the safest shampoo for your dog, search for a product that discloses its complete list of ingredients and is USDA-certified.

  • Consider a Medicated Shampoo: In some cases, a medicated shampoo is the only product that will do the trick for your dog. Some dogs, like bulldogs, Labradors, and pit bulls, are prone to skin allergies and benefit from regular bathing with a medicated shampoo that contains antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Medicated shampoos may also benefit dogs with these conditions:

    • Ringworm
    • Mange
    • Fleas
    • Bacterial infections
    • Yeast infections
    • Endocrine disorders that cause skin issues
    • Oily skin
    • Dry skin

However, always discuss your dog’s skin issue with your veterinary team before switching to a medicated shampoo. Your team will be able to guide you and may even offer the convenience of a prescription product carried in the clinic.

big dog wet in bathtub
  • Read Product Reviews: As with any purchase, product reviews can help you narrow down your options. Avoid using your dog as a guinea pig, and crowdsource public opinion on the myriad of shampoo products. Check for complaints about adverse reactions and potential issues that indicate pet parents should avoid the product. Verify a product’s claims of successful treatment of particular skin and coat conditions you are hoping to resolve. Look for pet owner reviews about the shampoo’s effectiveness for their dogs.

    The dog shampoo world is wide and varied, and navigation can be as confusing as your local pet store’s dog food aisles. Whether your dog needs a brightening shampoo or one designed to combat itching and irritation, this buyer’s guide will help you choose the best product for your dog. However, if in doubt, always consult with your veterinarian, who understands your dog’s unique health and wellness issues and can provide customized advice on the best shampoo for your dog.

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Melissa RVT

Melissa Murray, RVT

Melissa Murray graduated from Purdue University with her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology and has worked at the same veterinary practice since 2011. Cutting back on her clinical hours, she joined the Rumpus Writing and Editing team in 2018, where she enjoys the flexibility granted by a remote veterinary copywriting position. With the best of both worlds, Melissa furthers her knowledge of pain management and anesthesia protocols, while discovering creative ways to write about dental disease for the thousandth time. She has currently traded her hobby farm animals in for raising human children—at least until they’re old enough to help with chores!

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