Best Shampoos for Dogs

Are you wondering what are the best shampoos for dogs? The answer, it turns out, depends on your needs.

By: aquamech-utah

Has your dog ever rolled in something so foul you could barely stand the smell of him long enough to drag him to a bath? Does he scratch, dig, lick his coat? Has he ever encountered the business end of a skunk?

Dogs seem to love to reek of disgusting odors. Bath time is demanded.

But what are the best shampoos for dogs? It is not a one-kind-fits-all choice, and the selection is vast. If you are like me, you want to limit experimentation — my dogs do not enjoy the bath experience. There are thousands of products to choose from. So, let’s take a look at a few categories of shampoos for dogs.


First, 2 things to keep in mind:

  1. In general, do not use human shampoo or conditioners on your pet — especially the green guck like Prell. But, according to Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, human shampoos are sometimes fine. “Veterinary dermatologists recommend Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo frequently for sensitive dogs,” she says. “It seems human shampoos are milder than in years past, even for humans.”
  2. Examine your dog before bathing and determine if there are special needs. It will make it much easier to choose the right shampoo.

Cleansing Shampoos

You look your pup over and find that the only thing she needs is a fresh scent and a good cleaning. You are lucky; there are a lot of products to choose from, including the following DIY recipe.

You will need:

  • Sterilized container for shampoo
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • 2 teaspoons aloe vera
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (vegetable oil will also work)
  • 2–3 drops of pennyroyal
  • 2–3 drops of eucalyptus oil (for flea control)

Pour the ingredients into the container and shake well to blend (and shake before each use).

My dogs didn’t mind this shampoo. I wasn’t as comfortable with the lather; I worried that the dishwashing detergent would irritate their eyes and ears, so I practiced extra caution to keep the suds away from their faces. Overall, it was a good, gentle cleaning, and the dogs stayed fresh until their next roll in the mud.

Don’t Miss: More DIY Dog Shampoo Recipes

Medicated Shampoos

For most skin, coat or health issues requiring a medicated shampoo, I prefer to get my veterinarian’s advice for the best shampoo formula. Infections, psoriasis, abrasions, lesions and some serious health issues are often diagnosed by your dog’s coat and skin condition. It is important to discuss concerns with a medical professional.


Most people seek medicated shampoos to treat fleas, ticks and other parasites. There are products available online and at most pet supply stores that promise flea and tick control. Many of these medicated shampoos contain the insecticide pyrethrum.

Although pyrethrum is approved for use on pets, it can be harmful to dogs with certain health risks. It also tends to further dry the coat and skin, increasing itching, biting and scratching. The chemical is not “tearless” and will cause discomfort if suds get into your dog’s eyes.

Look for shampoos labeled “All-Natural Ingredients” and containing aloe vera, eucalyptus oils, oatmeal and tea tree oils.

No-Rinse Shampoos

It never fails — when company is coming, my dogs go above and beyond to make sure they find a way to get dirty just before the guest’s scheduled arrival. It is times like these I go for the no-rinse shampoo option. It is a trick used by most show dog handlers.

No-rinse shampoos are usually packaged in a spray or pump dispenser. Dispense the shampoo directly onto the coat and work into a lather. Use an absorbent towel to remove excess lather and dry.

No-rinse shampoos are not intended for regular use. They do not provide the cleansing and conditioning properties of a water bath, but they are a time saver when a full bath is just not possible.

Dry Shampoos

Like no-rinse shampoos, dry shampoos are designed for occasional use when time or availability prevents a full bath for your dog.

Dry shampoos are an effective quick fix to deodorize and freshen your pet. These products are typically a blend of talc, cornstarch, boric acid and baking soda. They are nearly always packaged in a powder form, and when sprinkled in the dog’s coat they absorb excess oils. The powder must be thoroughly brushed out or it will cause itching and excessive scratching.

Specialty Shampoos

Whitening shampoos are often used to remove blood stains, urine and grass and food stains from the coat and leave a “brilliant shine.” Some dog shampoos are designed to bring out a dog’s “natural attributes,” such as the color of a coat or the silkiness of the hair.

Most popular among the dog show circuit are shampoos that enhance white, black, red and brown coats. These shampoos, unlike the human color shampoo equivalents, do not actually dye the fur but add a certain pizzazz under the show ring lights.

Deodorizing Shampoos

I referenced the business end of a skunk early in this article. Not too long ago, 2 of my dogs begged to go out around dusk. I opened the door and they nearly knocked me down, tearing outside and around the corner of the house. I immediately heard a yelp, and they both came running back to the door. I could smell the strong, odor of what was unmistakably a skunk.

Itzi, the larger dog, just started rolling in the grass. Luke, the other dog, rubbed his face on the door mat. His eyes were shut tight, and he was sneezing. I knew he had taken a direct hit to the face.

I led them both to the garage and began the cleanup. Just follow this 9-step de-skunking plan.

I would conclude by saying “a clean pet is a happy pet” — but we all know that just isn’t true. Perhaps “a clean pet is a happy pet parent” makes for a better summary.


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