- Bathing your dog regularly helps keep their skin and coat clean, healthy, and moisturized.
- Dog shampoos are formulated to be gentle on a dog’s sensitive skin and free from harsh ingredients and fragrances.
- Our top pick is Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, which cleans and deodorizes without irritating sensitive skin.
- This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Bathing your dog is a key aspect of responsible dog ownership. A good bath with a high-quality dog shampoo helps keep a dog’s skin and coat clean and moisturized. Whether a dog bath is fun or feels like a chore to you, the shampoo product that you use plays a big part in maintaining optimal skin and coat health.
Many dog owners use human shampoo on their dogs, but these products can damage a dog’s skin and leave the skin vulnerable to problems like flaky skin and infections. The best option is to purchase a shampoo designed specifically for dogs. The products below are formulated for a dog’s pH and gentle on sensitive skin.
Keeping a dog’s skin and coat clean is important, but know that you can have too much of a good thing. Too-frequent shampooing could strip their coat of the natural oils that nourish and moisturize the skin and coat. So, not only is it important to avoid bathing them too often but you also need to use a high-quality product when you do wash them.
The shampoos recommended here are not intended to treat medical conditions. Speak to your veterinarian and read our guide to the best medicated dog shampoos if you are looking to manage a specific condition.
Here are the best dog shampoos in 2021
- Best dog shampoo overall: Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo
- Best puppy shampoo: Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo
- Best flea and tick shampoo: Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo
- Best organic dog shampoo: 4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo
- Best heavy-duty dog shampoo: Synergy Labs Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo
- Best dog shampoo for sensitive skin: Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo
Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo combines all the good things that you’d want in a dog shampoo into one product.
Pros: All-natural ingredients, soap-free formula, relieves itching, soothes dry skin, promotes healing, moisturizes skin, pH-balanced to clean and deodorize, won’t wash away flea and tick products,100% biodegradable, cruelty-free
Cons: May not be suitable for dogs with allergies and extra-sensitive skin, scent may fade over time, may not be powerful enough for very strong odors
When shopping for dog shampoo, look for a product that will clean and deodorize a dog’s skin and coat without irritating their sensitive skin. We recommend Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, which is a gentle and effective formula for animals 6 weeks and older.
The shampoo contains natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe skin irritation, relieve itching, and moisturize a dog’s skin The soap-free, pH-balanced formula effectively cleans and softens the coat, and vanilla and almond extracts leave a pleasing scent. It is light enough that it won’t wash away flea and tick control products.
In addition to being all-natural, it is 100% biodegradable and cruelty-free.
The best for puppies
Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo gently cleanses a puppy’s sensitive skin and coat and can be used as a face wash without irritating the eyes.
Pros: Gentle enough for puppies and as a face wash, fresh orchid scent, natural odor-neutralizing ingredients, lathers well for deep cleaning, no harsh fragrances
Cons: Orchid scent may be overpowering, may not be powerful enough for strong odors
Like adult dogs, puppies can have sensitive skin. To care for your puppy’s skin, choose a formula that is strong enough for deep cleaning but gentle enough not to irritate or damage your puppy’s skin. Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo is a puppy-safe shampoo that cleans and deodorizes without the use of harsh chemicals or fragrances.
The shampoo is made with gentle cleansers that are safe for your puppy’s sensitive skin and coat. It is a tearless formula that won’t irritate their eyes if you use it as a face wash, and it leaves behind a fresh orchid scent. The formula’s odor-neutralizing ingredients provide long-lasting freshness.
Even though the shampoo can safely be used to wash your puppy’s face, take extra care not to get the product in their eyes, nose, or mouth.
The best for fleas and ticks
Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo is made with natural pyrethrins and an insect growth regulator to kill fleas on contact and provide 28 days of protection.
Pros: Made with natural pyrethrins instead of synthetic permethrins, contains Precor insect growth regulator, kills fleas and ticks in all life stages, protects for a full 28 days, contains natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, gently cleanses and softens coat, safe for puppies over 12 weeks
Cons: Not recommended for puppies under 12 weeks, some users find the odor to be too strong, must be worked into a thick lather for maximum efficacy
Not only can fleas make your dog’s skin irritated and inflamed, but these tiny, pesky parasites can make their way into your pet’s bedding, your furniture, your carpet — and eventually onto you.
Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo is a highly effective formula that kills fleas in all life stages and is also effective against ticks and chewing lice.
Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo contains natural pyrethrins to kill adult fleas, ticks, and lice in puppies 12 weeks and older. It also contains Precor, an insect growth regulator that prevents eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults. While these ingredients are safe for dogs, they are toxic to cats and potentially fatal. Never bathe your cat with this product.
In addition to powerful active ingredients, this formula also contains natural ingredients like coconut extract, oatmeal, and aloe to help soothe and moisturize your dog’s dry, irritated, and itchy skin. The gentle formula works into an easy lather to cleanse your dog’s coat, leaving it soft, shiny, and clean. It also provides a full 28 days of protection against fleas, ticks, and lice.
Be aware that flea shampoos kill adult fleas that are currently on a dog but are less effective — and harder to use — than flea preventatives. An oral or topical spot-on flea preventive is the best line of defense against fleas and should be the first choice to prevent flea problems on a dog.
The best for sensitive skin
4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo is free from the synthetic and harsh ingredients that might irritate a dog’s sensitive skin.
Pros: No synthetic ingredients, no detergents or sulfates, biodegradable and cruelty-free, gently cleanses and moisturizes, safe for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin, mild but pleasant scent, safe for puppies and dogs of all ages
Cons: May not be strong enough for dogs with thick double coats, thin consistency
Shampoos, particularly all-natural shampoos, that are free of harsh ingredients are generally the safest option for dogs with sensitive skin and seasonal allergies. Our recommendation for organic dog shampoo is 4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo because it is USDA-certified organic and free from synthetic ingredients that might irritate your dog’s skin. This formula is safe for dogs in all life stages.
4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo gently cleanses and moisturizes your dog’s skin and coat, leaving them smelling fresh and clean. It is minimally processed, meaning that the ingredients remain as close as possible to their original, natural form.
Ingredients are sustainably sourced and biodegradable.
The best heavy-duty shampoo
With three times the cleansing action of ordinary dog shampoos, Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo tackles even the toughest dirt and odors.
Pros: Contains three times the cleansing power of ordinary shampoos, lathers well for a deep clean, made with an exclusive “dirt repel” formula, natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue, concentrated formula doesn’t require mixing, does not remove topical flea and tick control treatments, gentle enough to be used frequently
Cons: Triple strength formula may be too strong for dogs with very sensitive skin, bottle may leak when not stored or handled properly, green apple scent sometimes wears off quickly
For a shampoo to take on even the dirtiest, smelliest of dogs but gentle enough to soothe and moisturize their skin, our top choice Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo.
The Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo contains three times more active cleansing ingredients than the average dog shampoo. Free from harsh ingredients and irritating fragrances, this formula contains a variety of foaming agents and natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter to leave your dog’s skin healthy and their coat clean.
This shampoo also contains a “dirt repel” formula to keep your dog’s coat cleaner longer.
Despite this shampoo being heavy duty, it is gentle enough that it won’t remove topical flea and tick control products on your dog’s skin or strip away the skin’s natural oils. Also, it can be used frequently, if needed. Always talk with your veterinarian about how often you should shampoo your dog.
The best for sensitive skin
The Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo uses a soap-free, tearless formula that works fast to soothe dry and irritated skin.
Pros: Hypoallergenic formula, soap-free, tearless, cleans and moisturizes sensitive skin and coats, helps relieve itching and dryness, does not interfere with flea and tick products
Cons: Scent may be too strong for some people, may not be effective against severe allergic reactions, not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs
Seasonal allergies can cause dogs to feel persistently itchy, leading to constant scratching and licking that damages the skin and leaves it vulnerable to infection and other skin problems.
Our top pick for a hypoallergenic dog shampoo that gently cleanses while soothing dry skin and relieving itching is Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo. This soap-free, tearless formula won’t interfere with your dog’s flea and tick control products, either.
Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo removes allergy-inducing substances like pollen from the skin and features natural ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe itching, relieve allergies, and moisturize dry and brittle coats. It won’t irritate their sensitive skin or leave behind a sticky residue. Plus, it will leave them smelling clean and fresh.