Our furry friends sometimes have the most fun when rolling around in every dirty or muddy spot they can find in the garden.
While they don’t mind smelling like old socks, it usually offends their human counterparts and that’s where a warm bath usually comes to the rescue!
Some doggos love bath-time, while many others detest it; but washing your pet is one of the best things you can do to keep their fur and skin in good shape.
Can I use any shampoo on my dog?
The key to a good wash, however, is a good shampoo. Before you go running off to the bathroom to pick up your bottle of L’Oréal though, you need to consider the different biological aspects of dog fur and skin in comparison to humans.
Human shampoo is a no-no
The skin of your dog has a higher pH level than you do, and that means the shampoo sitting in your hands is too acidic for your pet. 
Using it over long periods of time can degrade the outer, protective layer, of their skin and result in the perfect environment for infections and bacteria to run rampant. What you need instead, is a good shampoo formulated specifically for dogs .
Dog specific shampoos
Dog shampoos come in a variety of formulas and uses, ranging from organic compounds designed to combat fleas and ticks, to synthetic medicated types that are great for dogs with rashes or infections.
Battling a flea problem? Take a look at ways to naturally prevent & get rid of dog fleas.
Best dog shampoos examined
In this article, we’ll examine the top five dog shampoos to choose from for different needs – taking into consideration certain aspects like optimal skin and coat care, avoiding allergic reactions , preserving natural skin and hair oils, plus the occasional need for a heavy duty cleanser.
Earthbath | All-Natural Pet Shampoo
Earthbath shampoos are all-natural as the name implies and comes in some great scents that should appeal to your senses, regardless of whether or not your dog cares for them.
Natural formulas, in particular, are great because they’re generally softer on your pet’s skin and on your hands, which reduces the risk of irritation after prolonged use, while also making them easy on the eyes should some of the product find its way there.
If you’re eco-friendly, then you’ll also be happy to know that whether you’re washing your dog out on the lawn or in your tub, the environment won’t be negatively impacted by the runoff.
The final feature that is often underrated is the gentle cleansing properties of the product. While this formula isn’t medicated and won’t work to reduce skin irritations, infections, or kill off any parasites in your dog’s skin or coat, it isn’t powerful enough to wash off any topically applied medication.
That means you can apply some cream, and then bath them with this shampoo without worrying about interfering with the meds!
- Extremely gentle on the skin
- All natural ingredients
- Not strong enough for really grimy coats
This product scored a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and reviews were quite positive overall, with many owners reaping the benefits of an affordable, environmentally-friendly option for their pets. They love that it won’t irritate pets or humans thanks to its limited ingredients, and that very little of the product is required after being diluted for it to work its cleaning magic on their dogs.
Every time the formula changes, the company is quick to update the ingredients list as well, which is an appreciated touch by customers who like to stay up to date. Finally, many owners love the fact that it washes off quickly and effortlessly, which keeps dogs from excessively licking themselves after their baths.
It’s not a perfect product, however. The fragrance lingers long after their baths which may or may not frustrate you, and it’s not allergy-proof. Some dogs can still experience hot spots and itching if they’re unlucky, it’s just not a common experience.
SynergyLabs | Veterinary Formula Medicated Shampoo for Dogs
For something with a little more punch, consider this option by SynergyLabs. Unlike the Earthbath product we just looked at, this one is not all-natural which won’t sit well with some, but as part of the trade-off, you have a shampoo that’s quite potent and cleans extremely thoroughly.
This formula, in particular, is anti-parasitic which means that it’s all you’re going to need for cases of things like ringworm. It’s not ideal for preventative care though, so considering that this shampoo is quite powerful, if your dog isn’t exhibiting any noteworthy symptoms it might not be the right choice for you.
For everything else from irritation to bald spots, however, this product can help to relieve aggravation and pain. It’s also extremely affordable, which is great since you’re going to need to use it quite consistently at first to begin the treatment process, and depending on the length of your dog’s hair, you can run through a bottle pretty quickly.
- Concentrated, so the formula works quickly to relieve symptoms
- Extremely affordable, making it a great choice for medicinal
- Acts as a powerful antiparasitic
- Not ideal for day-to-day use since its combination of synthetic ingredients can irritate otherwise healthy skin.
Customers in need of fast-acting shampoo for their pet’s medical symptoms were extremely pleased with their purchase and gave the product a rating of 4.4. out of 5 stars. In cases of early detection, some owners turn to the shampoo before going to their vet to try and treat the problem which has saved them some money in medical bills in best case scenarios.
They report that in successful cases it has reduced hot spots, inflammation, and excessive licking, which is all the result of healthier skin. Even in cases where they turned to the vet first, the shampoo quickly worked to reduce symptoms, even if it doesn’t work to solve any underlying problems.
However, despite its many success stories, the synthetic ingredients don’t sit well with all dogs. A few owners have reported vomiting and sickness after using this shampoo, so if you have any doubts at all about its effectiveness for your specific pooch, it’s wise to always consult with a vet first.
Is your dog in need of a trim? Check out the best dog clippers for DIY haircuts.
Pro Pet Works | Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo + Conditioner
Oatmeal shampoos have long been recommended and hailed as the gold standard for dogs due to its gentle nature and natural ingredients to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. If you’re interested in trying the popular blend, then this option by Pro Pet could be for you.
Their formula is made in the USA and is vet-tested and approved, which should give you peace of mind when using it on your dog for the first time. It’s also soap-less and free of detergents, which is a nice touch when trying to ensure that their product is truly hypoallergenic.
That’s not to say your dog can’t have a reaction though. Every dog is different, so if they’re experiencing any side effects, be sure to discontinue use.
Aside from that warning though, this is a great, versatile option for already-healthy pets that maintains the look and feel of their coat and skin without bogging them down in fragrances or unnecessary ingredients.
- All-natural – easy on the skin and safe for the eyes
- No lingering and powerful medicinal odors
- Small amounts of the product generate massive amounts of suds.
- A bit costly for some
Everyone from vets, owners, and groomers alike are all in agreement that when it comes to shampoos for your dog, this brand is one of the best, and received a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.
This product is loved thanks to its hypoallergenic ingredients that are accessible to all people and dogs, while still being powerful enough to tackle flea problems, although its effectiveness does drop off if the issue is widespread.
After using this shampoo, dogs are happy, scratch themselves less, and are less likely to experience allergic reactions after quick walks outside. However, oatmeal shampoos aren’t ideal for all dogs. Yes, they’re much more gentle than synthetic brands, but even other natural formulas clean pets more efficiently than oatmeal.
That means frequent washes are generally required for the product to keep working effectively. Otherwise, a quick bath can become a long, drawn-out affair as you struggle to wash out the dirt and debris from your dog’s coat.
Bexley Labs | Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo for Dogs
Our previous medicated shampoo was effective and affordable, but it had a few drawbacks. It aggravated sensitivity issues in some dogs and wasn’t particularly effective at killing off conditions like yeast infections, for example.
If you’ve tried it and weren’t happy with the results, then your next step should be Bexley Labs, since their Curaseb shampoo is more powerful and versatile at dealing with numerous problems, even if that comes at a cost. Besides its powerful medical properties, this shampoo is great at eliminating strong odors, while not possessing a powerful chemical smell itself.
However, like most medicated shampoos you have to be confident in the ability to comfort your dog during a bath. Using this isn’t a quick affair since after lathering and applying you have to let it sit for a period of up to ten minutes for it to have its intended effect.
It’s not excessively long, but if your dog already doesn’t enjoy being bathed, then you need to be ready to offer a distraction at a moments notice.
- More powerful than most medicated shampoos since it also deals with yeast on top of standard parasites and fungus
- Great at curbing unwanted scratching which can develop rashes and sores
- More expensive than other medicated shampoos
Most customers are thrilled that this shampoo is effective at dealing with a variety of issues since using it on their dogs tends to cover most of their bases for treatment, and scored a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Some owners say that multiple trips to the vet couldn’t diagnose certain issues which quickly became expensive as test after test came back negative.
This shampoo has proven to be an effective last resort when all else fails and is quite useful for general maintenance as well if it’s all you have lying around the house. They report that positive results began to surface quickly regardless of the issue, except in the most aggressive and extreme of situations where a vet visit was still required.
There are a few negative comments that certain dyes in the formula can stain fur, however, although that may be due to the prevalence of counterfeit products entering the market.
Wahl | 4-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner – Calming Formula
Sometimes you need the most powerful product available. Other times, you just want something that’s affordable and presents good value in terms of its results, and that’s where Wahl comes in.
Their plant-based formula comes in a larger bottle than competing products to give you more consistent long-term results. This calming formula is intriguing since it uses lavender and chamomile scents to ease your dog into a sense of relaxation, much like many people try with aromatherapy.
While the effects of this are mixed, the results on your dog’s fur are not. This shampoo and conditioner is great at giving your pet a sleek shine and makes it slick enough after bathing for a quick combing to easily detangle any matted hair.
They have a ton of other options in this line, but for our money, this formula is one of the best for healthy pets who don’t need extensive medicinal ingredients.
- Bigger bottles of the formula present some nice added value
- Great smelling product
- May trigger some irritation in sensitive skin
Owners of healthy pets with shiny coats and spotless skin are quite pleased with the quality of this shampoo when it comes to general maintenance. This product received a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It lathers nicely and conditions your dog’s hair, and while they probably don’t care about the elaborate scents, many owners enjoy them.
They are powerful though, and any scent-heavy product is going to be rough on some dogs and lead to scratching and licking. Just keep in mind that despite some reports that all formulas are effective for fleas and ticks, it really isn’t. Get yourself a medicated shampoo and save your dog and yourself the grief and aggravation.
Final thoughts on the ideal dog shampoo
Bath-time for many dogs is an unfortunate chore, but for healthy skin and fur , it has to be done. Making it successful requires the use of various shampoos that are formulated specifically for the skin of your dogs.
In this article, we covered both natural and synthetic shampoos, as well as some that contain medicinal ingredients and some that don’t. Whether you’re looking for a new bottle to combat allergies or are just looking to stock up on some exciting new scents, we have something on this list just waiting to be picked out.
Even if you like the one you buy, feel free to experiment with subsequent purchases! You never know when you’ll find one you’ll both truly love.
Another must read: Atopica for dogs – an easy to understand guide.
- “Mapping of the dog skin based on biophysical measurements.”
W. S. Oh. T. H. Oh. August 2010
- Shampoo therapy in Veterinary Dermatology – Vet360
- Mueller, R. S. et al. “Allergens in Veterinary Medicine.” Allergy 71.1 (2016): 27–35. PMC. Web. 18 Oct. 2018.
- Rodrigues Hoffmann, Aline et al. “The Skin Microbiome in Healthy and Allergic Dogs.” Ed. Jose Luis Balcazar. PLoS ONE 9.1 (2014): e83197. PMC. Web. 18 Oct. 2018.