Regular, consistent grooming is all part of taking care of your dog. However, when it comes to bathing, people shampoo isn’t the best choice. A dog’s unique pH balance has different needs than a human’s. Dog shampoos address those needs, such as natural cleansers or flea and tick treatments. Other dogs may have allergies or other skin conditions that need require a special dog shampoo formula.
We reviewed dozens of dog shampoos to find the best formulas on the market. Since not every shampoo will work for every dog, we considered soothing formulas with oatmeal, those that provide treat fungal and yeast infections, as well as the many other specialized formulas out there. We picked five of the best shampoos as well as included a list of formulas that didn’t quite make our list, but are still some of the best shampoos on the market.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Dog Shampoo’s formula includes antiparasitic and antiseborrheic medication to get rid of the scaling caused by seborrhea and treat parasitic, fungal, and bacterial infections. It also includes colloidal oatmeal and allantoin to soothe and rehydrate the skin. This manufacturer uses veterinary-grade ingredients for serious cleansing power yet remains gentle on your dog’s skin.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Dog Shampoos
|Best Dog Shampoo Overall||Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Dog Shampoo||4.5|
|Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin||Wahl Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo||4.6|
|Best Budget Dog Shampoo||Fresh 'n Clean Scented Shampoo||4.7|
|Best Flea Shampoo for Dogs||Adams Plus Flea & Tick||4.3|
|Best Oatmeal Dog Shampoo||Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash||4.6|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Dog Shampoo Overall: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Dog Shampoo
Dogs are susceptible to yeast, fungal, and parasitic infections on their coat and skin. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Dog Shampoo contains antiparasitic and antiseborrheic medications to treat many of these uncomfortable and harmful infections. Ingredients like coal tar, salicylic acid, and micronized sulfur provide the bulk of the pest-eliminating treatment. However, it requires two to three shampooings per week to bring infections under control. After that, regular washings can prevent infections from returning.
While you need to go to a vet to diagnose skin issues, common signs of a problem include a red rash, bald spots, greasy or waxy skin, or flaking skin. Many of those issues also come with itching. This formula contains colloidal oatmeal and allantoin to moisturize and heal the skin as it treats infections. It also works for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Dog Shampoo Key Features:
- Antiparasitic and antiseborrheic ingredients
- Soothing oatmeal and allantoin
- Appropriate for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies
Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin: Wahl Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo
Wahl’s Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo takes on the tough job of cleaning dogs with the most sensitive skin. Like people, some dogs are prone to allergies. Regular dog shampoos may cause dryness, which comes with itching and flaking. However, this oatmeal formula shampoo hydrates the skin to relieve discomfort and control the symptoms of allergies.
It’s free of alcohol, parabens, and PEG-80, which are all common irritants that can be unhealthy for your dog’s skin. Natural extracts of verbena, coconut, and lime give it a pleasant scent but also add to the skin calming abilities.
Wahls has also designed this formula in a concentration that saves you money. A coconut-derived sodding agent creates a rather with a relatively small amount of shampoo. You need less shampoo per washing, stretching your dollar while keeping your dog’s coat and skin healthy.
Wahl Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo Key Features:
- High concentration of sodding agent
- Oatmeal to soothe skin
- Formula designed to relieve itching and flakiness that come from allergies
Best Budget Dog Shampoo: Fresh ‘n Clean Scented Shampoo
Sometimes you just need a dog shampoo that’s simple and gets the job done. Fresh ‘n Clean Scented Shampoo cleans and adds a fresh scent to your dog’s coat. Hydration is vital in a dog shampoo because it prevents drying the skin, which can cause more irritation than it relieves. This biodegradable formula contains aloe and vitamin E to moisturize and soothe the skin.
Fresh ‘n Clean’s unique formula also includes antistatic agents and conditioners to help prevent matting and tangles. It’s a great, affordable solution for those long-haired breeds that require extra coat maintenance. The light floral scent permeates the hair and stays with your dog for up to two weeks.
Fresh ‘n Clean Scented Shampoo Key Features:
- Moisturizing aloe and vitamin E
- Floral scent
- Antistatic agents and conditioners
Best Flea Shampoo for Dogs: Adams Plus Flea & Tick
Fleas and ticks can be a chronic problem in some areas and for some dogs. Regular treatments and a flea and tick shampoo like Adams Plus Flea & Tick are essential to managing these pests, who bring discomfort and carry disease. A flea and tick shampoo works in tandem with other flea and tick treatments. This formula not only kills fleas and ticks, but also kills flea eggs, larvae, and lice. It also has insect growth regulator (IGR), which helps stop flea eggs and larvae from developing for up to 28 days.
Regular shampooings with this formula, along with regular flea and tick treatments, are an effective way to keep these pests off your dog. However, it’s also designed for those pets with sensitive skin. Ingredients like aloe, coconut extract, lanolin, and oatmeal soothe, hydrate, and calm the skin so your dog can get the treatment he needs without developing itchy, flaky discomfort.
Adams Flea & Tick Key Features:
- Kills fleas, ticks, flea eggs, flea larva, and lice
- Inhibits flea development for up to 28 days
- Soothes and hydrates the skin with aloe, lanolin, oatmeal, and coconut
Best Oatmeal Dog Shampoo: Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash
Oatmeal is a common ingredient in dog shampoos because of its soothing and healing abilities. The Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash brings the calming power of oatmeal and combines it in a shampoo/conditioner mix that works for dogs with allergies and problem skin. In particular, it targets dogs allergic to food, grass, and flea bites. To fully cater to dogs with sensitive skin, it’s free of alcohol, sulfates, dyes, and artificial fragrances.
And, did we mention that it’s an all-natural, organic formula? If you’re looking for ways to keep chemicals out of your home away from your family and pets, this Pro Works’ formula is for you. Aloe vera, almond oil, and vitamins A, D, and E provide the moisture needed to treat itchy, flaky skin. Finally, we love that this is a biodegradable shampoo that comes in a bottle made of recycled materials.
Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash Key Features:
- Oatmeal formula designed for sensitive skin
- Free of alcohol, sulfates, dyes, and artificial fragrances
- Heals and moisturizes with aloe vera, almond oil, and vitamins A, D, & E
Who Should Buy Dog Shampoo
You may be tempted to simply use the same shampoo you have sitting in your shower to wash your dog. However, people and dogs have different needs. In general, people aren’t battling fleas and ticks, nor are we covered in a thick coat where fungus and bacteria can hide. Dog owners who do their dogs’ grooming, from shampooing to clipping and ear care, definitely need a dog shampoo formulated to their dog’s specific needs.
Most dogs, especially those who struggle with pest problems and infections, need regular washings. Even if you only wash your dog once or twice a year, a dog shampoo can help you keep fleas and ticks at bay as well as clean the dog’s coat without irritating the skin. Dog shampoos are also specially formulated to reduce the odors inherent to canines. We all love our four-legged friends, but maybe not the smells that go along with them.
Important Features to Consider
Dog shampoos should to several things well, and they all come down to the ingredients in the formula. Here’s what to consider as you choose a shampoo for your dog:
- Moisturizing and soothing ingredients. Shampoos that dry the skin can leave your dog itching and scratching, which can, in turn, create opportunities for infection. Ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera, almond oil, lanolin, and vitamins A, D, and E can all help moisturize and soothe the skin. Be sure to look for all-natural extracts rather than synthetic chemicals meant to mimic the real thing.
- Flea, tick, and lice treatments. In addition to your regular flea, tick, and lice treatments, a shampoo designed to battle these pests can prevent them from taking hold in your dog’s coat.
- Fungus, yeast, and bacteria. Some dogs may be prone to fungus, yeast, and bacterial infections. Medicated shampoos can relieve some of these issues and keep them from returning. Look for a formula that’s targeted toward your dog’s specific issues. It may require several washings in a short amount of time, followed by regular washing thereafter to prevent the problem from coming back.
- Free of potentially harmful substances. Many of the substances harmful to humans are also harmful to dogs. Shampoos that are free of alcohol, sulfates, parabens, and artificial dyes and fragrances will be gentler on your dog’s skin. These kinds of ingredients can irritate the skin, trigger allergies, or lead to other health problems. Keep an eye out for highly fragrant formulas or brightly colored shampoos as they’re a visual indicator of possible artificial additives. Some dogs may never have a problem with any of these ingredients. However, if your dog is prone to skin problems and allergies, try to keep the shampoo formula as natural as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use human shampoo for my dog?
It’s not recommended to use human shampoo for dogs. The skin has what’s called an acid mantle or pH balance. Human skin has a pH level of 5.2 to 6.2. Dogs’ pH level is generally between 5.5 and 7.5. Humans need more acid to maintain the health of their hair and scalp. If you use the same shampoo as you do on your dog, it’s likely to strip their skin of oils needed to maintain their pH balance. The result may leave dry, flaky skin. However, removing those protective oils also leaves them susceptible to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungal infections.
How often should I bathe my dog?
How often to bathe your dog, in part, depends on how dirty he gets. A dog that stays mostly in the house and only goes out for a daily walk may not need to bathe as often as a dog that spends considerable time in the backyard. You’ll need to consider your dog’s size, his breed (long-haired dogs typically need more cleaning than shorthaired breeds), and activity level along with where most of his daily activities take place.
Dogs who spend a lot of time outside potentially getting into garbage or other things they shouldn’t need to be bathed more often than dogs who spend most of their time indoors. Keep in mind that bathing your dog too often can irritate their skin. The trick is to find the balance that’s appropriate for your dog. You can always ask your veterinarian. And, if your dog is currently taking medical treatments for a skin-related condition, the veterinarian may provide guidance as to how often to bathe your dog and what kind of shampoo to use.
Can I use baby shampoo to wash my dog?
Baby shampoo is gentler than regular human shampoo to protect a baby’s sensitive skin. While we still recommend using a dog shampoo whenever possible, if you don’t have anything else, baby shampoo is a better choice than regular shampoo. As long as you’re not washing your dog frequently with it, it shouldn’t cause a problem.
How do you wash a dog’s face?
You have to be careful when washing your dog’s face. Shampoo or a spray of water in their eyes can ruin bathing for a long time. He may even become afraid of a bath if it’s too unpleasant. Use a wet sponge, washcloth, or rag to clean dirt, grease, and debris from your dog’s face. Be sure to wring out the water so that it doesn’t run into your dog’s eyes.
Other Products We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other dog shampoos. These formulas didn’t quite make our 5 best dog shampoos list, but there are still some pretty amazing formulas that might be perfect for your dog’s unique needs. The information to compare each one is included with our listing.
- Dog Shampoos for Sensitive Skin
- Dry Shampoos for Dogs
- Flea Shampoos for Dogs
- Oatmeal Dog Shampoos
- Medicated Dog Shampoos
Dog Shampoos for Sensitive Skin
While this concentrated formula isn’t strictly designed for sensitive skin, it’s gentle, while it cleanses and moisturizes the skin.
- Light fragrance
- Adjust concentration according to the dog’s needs
- Moisturizes the skin with aloe and vitamin E
Gentle ingredients like oatmeal, aloe, and shea butter relieve itchy, dry skin, and prevent further skin problems.
- Biodegradable formula
- Relieves itchy, dry skin
Your dog’s itchy skin will find relief with this tea tree oil-infused formula.
- Relieves itching from dry skin or insect bites
- Watermelon scented
- Coats are cleansed and nourished with wheat protein and chamomile
This soap-free formula gently cleanses dogs with the most sensitive of skin.
- Moisturizes with aloe vera and vitamin E
- Safe for use with flea and tick treatments
Wahl uses a high concentration of coconut sodding agent so you can lather up your dog with less shampoo. pH balanced to protect your dog’s sensitive skin, this formula conditions while it cleans.
- Scented with natural lavender and chamomile
- Alcohol and paraben-free
Dry Shampoos for Dogs
This foaming mousse dry shampoo relies on coconut cleansers to keep your dog’s coat clean fresh.
- Neutralizes odors
- Free of alcohol, sulfates, and parabens
- Safe for sensitive skin
If your dog hates water, a dry shampoo like this Wahl’s formula might be for you. It’s got lavender and chamomile to gently scent while it cleanses and conditions.
- Plant-based cleansers
- Free of alcohol and parabens
Flea Shampoos for Dogs
Essential oils mix together in a natural formula that repels fleas and ticks along with their larvae and eggs.
- Essential oils: clove, lemongrass, cedarwood, cinnamon, sesame seed
- Fights off pests for up to seven days
Vet’s Best has a plant-based formula that takes on fleas and ticks with essential oils instead of harsh chemicals.
- Essential oils: rosemary and peppermint
- Deodorizes and cleans
- Kills fleas and ticks along with larvae and eggs
Oatmeal Dog Shampoos
The mix of oatmeal and honey in this formula hydrates your dog’s skin as it cleanses his hair of dirt and debris.
- Free of fragrances, sulfates, dyes, phthalates, and petroleum
- pH balanced for dogs
- Soothes and moisturizes the skin
All-natural ingredients, including oatmeal and aloe, gently cleanse and soothe your dog’s skin.
- Made with coconut-based cleansers
- Three percent oatmeal
Shampoo and conditioner combine in this honey sage scented formula. Gentle oatmeal protects your dog’s sensitive skin.
- Neutralizes odors
- Free of dyes and parabens
- Safe for use with spot-on flea and tick treatments
This natural formula maintains the moisture of your dog’s skin while cleansing his coat of dirt, debris, and odor.
- Natural ingredients like rosemary, aloe vera, and oatmeal
This formula reduces itching with oatmeal, baking soda, and aloe vera. Coconut adds the final touch of cleansing power.
- Gentle enough for pets with sensitive skin
- Relieves itchy, dry skin
Colloidal oatmeal shampoo soothes and hydrates the skin, while lavender calms your dog.
- Designed for dogs with sensitive skin
- Lavender oil
- Free of paraben and sulfates
Oatmeal is just one of many ingredients in this shampoo that’s also full of botanical extracts and a coconut cleanser.
- Shampoo/conditioner combined
- Scented with fruit extracts
- Free of soap, paraben, and dye
Medicated Dog Shampoos
Arava packs its formula with natural ingredients like licorice, mallow, and fennel to create a shampoo that gets rid of fungus, bacteria, and yeast with nature’s help.
- Contains 28 active natural ingredients
- Treats fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections
Veterinary-grade ingredients take on fungus, bacteria, and yeast in a formula designed for dogs with skin problems.
- Treats pyoderma, ringworm, yeast, fungus, and bacterial infections
- Cucumber melon scent
- Deodorizes while it cleans
This formula contains chlorhexidine and ketoconazole to treat common fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections.
- Chlorhexidine and ketoconazole
- Reduces odors associated with fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections
- Soothes with Aloe
A combination of chlorhexidine and ketoconazole hit fungus, bacteria, and yeast hard to get rid of odors and uncomfortable skin irritation.
- Designed for sensitive skin
- Contains chlorhexidine and ketoconazole
- Free of paraben and artificial dyes