Best Dog Shampoos

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 01/28/22 •  9 min read
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Best Dog Shampoos

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Our doggie furbabies can become dirty and stinky quite fast, especially if they enjoy rolling in unmentionable things (road kill, poo, etc.). On the other hand, some dogs seem to have a non-stick coating that allows dirt and odor to just drop off!

No matter your pooch’s state of cleanliness, you’ll find a dog shampoo just right for cleaning and freshening up!

We’re going to take a look at why you shouldn’t use human shampoo on your dog, types of dog shampoos and their purposes, and then look at a list of some of the best dog shampoos in 2020.

Can I Use My Shampoo to Bathe My Dog?

The short answer is a resounding no! Human shampoo is not meant to be used on our pets. In the past you may have used your own shampoo in a pinch. Maybe you’ve been in this situation: the stores were closed, and you couldn’t get to the store after a busy day at work, etc.

Now your furbaby comes in covered with mud and a foul smell. It’s time for a bath! You prepare your pup’s bath only to realize you’ve run out of dog shampoo. You may be tempted to use your own, but there are reasons why it’s not in your dog’s best interests to use human shampoo on him.

Human Skin and Dog Skin pH Balances Are Different

You may think skin is skin—dog skin or human skin, etc. However, that’s not the case. Dog and human skin have very different levels of pH balances.

Human and dog skin both have something called an “acid mantle,” which is a thin, protective layer of skin that sits on the top layer of your or your dog’s skin. The acid mantle works to protect the underlying skin layers from contaminants of all types (including viruses and bacteria), helps keep the body hydrated and more. This layer is washed away after each bath, after which the acid layer must renew itself by attaining the proper levels of acidity and alkalinity (pH balance).

Normal pH for human skin is 5.5-5.6, which is more acidic, while dogs’ skin has a normal pH of 6.2-7.4, which is more neutral. When you use human shampoo on your dog, it harshly removes the acid mantle from your dog’s skin, leaving his skin unprotected from parasites, infections, allergies and other skin and health problems. In addition, human shampoo will leave your dog’s skin itchy and irritated, leading to dry, flaky skin and repeated scratching, etc. This is an easy “in” for any lurking viruses or bacteria to reach your dog’s unprotected skin.

If you’re in one of those moments where it’s impossible to run to the store and get more dog shampoo, then it’s OK to use your own shampoo. However, it’s best not to make this a regular practice, as you can see how harmful human shampoo is for your pup. Remember to thoroughly rinse all shampoo (dog or human versions) from your dog when the bath’s over! Shampoo residue will also leave your dog with itchy and irritated skin.

Types of Dog Shampoos & Their Purposes

Buying dog shampoo can be just as confusing and challenging as it when buying your own shampoo! When you buy human shampoo, you take into consideration your hair and skin type, is it oily or dry, long or short, sensitive (allergic), etc. The same goes when it comes to buying your dog’s shampoo.

You’ll find a dizzying variety of dog shampoos available at local stores and online. Let’s take a look at some different types of dog shampoos and their purposes to help you choose the best shampoo for your dog!

1. Color-enhancing shampoos: yes, you can find color-enhancing shampoos for your dog, too! These shampoos are used to make a dog’s coat look lighter (whiter) or darker. They usually contain ingredients that work to remove the yellow discoloration some dogs have from urine and/or improve the color of your pup’s coat.

2. Insect and pest control shampoos: these shampoos work to control insects and pests in your dog’s fur. Many of these shampoos will work against fleas, mites, ticks and other parasites. Pest control shampoos work to quickly eliminate the pests currently on your dog, and some even leave a short-term barrier on your dog’s skin to keep re-infestation down.

3. Medicated Shampoos: just like humans have medicated shampoos to fight different problems, such as dandruff, you’ll find medicated shampoos are also available for your dog! Medicated dog shampoos come in different varieties, depending on the health issue being treated. You’ll find antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial shampoos ready to help your pet.

4. Sensitive Shampoos: these shampoos are made to soothe your dog’s sensitive skin and may even contain conditioning ingredients that help to moisturize and protect the skin after a bath.

5. Hypoallergenic shampoo: this category of dog shampoos is made for dogs who have sensitive, allergic skin. The problem with this type of shampoo is that you don’t really know if it will cause an allergic reaction or not, as the ingredients vary from shampoo to shampoo. Some ingredients don’t cause an allergic reaction in one dog, but might in another dog.

6. All natural, organic shampoos: this category of dog shampoo offers you products that are labeled as organic and natural, with no harmful, harsh chemicals. Or that’s the way it should work. You have to be sure to read the labels carefully if going the organic route. Natural, organic shampoos are great, but read the labels to ensure there are no added chemicals that your pup may be sensitive or allergic to.

These are the most common types of dog shampoo available through local & online shopping or from your vet. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best dog shampoos for 2018!

Best Dog Shampoo for Puppies

After some research, we decided to choose Earthbath Ultra-Mild Puppy Shampoo as the best dog shampoo for puppies. Earthbath’s shampoos are all made with natural ingredients, including this puppy shampoo. This puppy shampoo is safe for puppies of any age, though it should be noted that puppies should only have their first real bath when they’re about 12 weeks old.

Earthbath puppy shampoo is tearless by nature and has a well balanced pH, which is great for a puppy’s sensitive skin. This Earthbath formula is safe for both dogs and cats! The soap-free formula will not wash off topically applied flea and tick treatments. In addition, this natural formula contains no parabens or any other chemical like phosphates, phthalates or DEA, it is also free from synthetic dyes or perfumes.

The puppy formula comes scented with wild cherry—just the thing to make your puppy both clean and pleasant smelling!

Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

We looked around at some different dog shampoos for sensitive skin, and have to say this was a hard job. You’ll many great dog shampoos for sensitive/allergic skin that are highly rated. We ultimately chose to go with Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo + Conditioner in One for Dogs and Cats. Pro Pet Works dog shampoo uses organic oatmeal, aloe vera, and almond oil to soothe your dog’s skin. This is a soap-less formula that also contains vitamins A, D & E which help to condition your pup’s coat and skin. One note—this brand is also safe for cats!

Another reason we chose this brand for best dog shampoo for sensitive skin was for it’s commitment preserve the environment with 100% biodegradable ingredients and packaging (also made with recycled materials). Their dog shampoos are non-toxic and non-alcoholic with no animal by products; their products are also paraben and cruelty free.

Dog Shampoo for Odor

We chose Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control which is a Natural Oatmeal Shampoo & Conditioner with a honey sage scent as the best dog shampoo for odor. Nature’s Miracle is soap-free and can even be used along with medicated dog shampoos (follow your vet’s recommendations). This shampoo will not strip leave-on tick and flea treatments. The formula contains no dyes and is paraben-free and is great for pets with sensitive skin.

Nature’s Miracle is able to neutralize odors, soothe itchy skin, clean and offers a rich conditioner to protect your dog’s skin after the bath. All of Nature’s Miracles products are made in the U.S. and are safe to use with all other topical products. This is the best dog shampoo for odor, especially if you cuddly canine has sensitive/allergic skin or other skin issues.

Dog Shampoo for Shedding

Does your dog shed quite a bit, especially in the spring and summer? Then you might be interested in a dog shampoo made especially to cut down on shedding! We chose Wahl Shed Control Shampoo as the best dog shampoo for shedding. Wahl’s shed control shampoo contains sage, lemongrass, aloe and oatmeal—all of which work to soothe the skin while reducing shedding. You’ll find this dog shampoo is formulated of all natural plant-derived ingredients, with no harsh chemicals.

Some reviewers have mentioned this shampoo may not be good for dogs with sensitive skin or allergies. Other reviewers said this shampoo worked well as a non-shedding shampoo, with the unexpected benefit of good odor elimination.

Dog Shampoo for Dry Itchy Skin

You’ll find many great shampoos in this category, but we chose to go with TropiClean Oatmeal and Tea Tree Pet Shampoo. Itchy skin is a common problem in dogs and it’s hard to watch them suffer and be so uncomfortable. TropiClean comes highly recommended due to its combination of oatmeal and tea tree oil. Both of these ingredients work to soothe itchy skin, but tea tree oil also acts as an antifungal and antibacterial. Remember the acid mantle skin layer? The tea tree oil will protect your dog’s skin from infections while his acid mantle is rejuvenating.

This shampoo is also great at removing dead, flaky skin and also helps skin dryness

You’ll find TropiClean is free of soap, harsh detergents, and is cruelty free. All of the ingredients in this formula are natural and the company makes the effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The packaging is 100% biodegradable. The company says this shampoo is also great for a dog’s humans, too!

This is our list of the best dog shampoos for 2018! We hope this list helps you find the very best shampoo for your dog!


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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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