The shampoo aisle at the pet
store is not unlike the shampoo aisle at the drugstore.
There are tons of brands to choose from, various formulas,
numerous scents, and lots of promises. While it might seem like
choosing a shampoo at random is the easiest way to go, the truth
is that the shampoo you choose for your
dog does matter. So how can you choose the right
dog shampoo for your furry friend?
1. Evaluate Your Dog’s Skin
Healthy fur comes from healthy skin, so the first step in
choosing a dog shampoo should be evaluating your pup’s skin. Is
their skin normal? Greasy? Dry? Flaky? Itchy? Does it have a funky odor? When in
doubt, ask your veterinarian to take a look at your pet’s skin
and give you the rundown. This will help you start zeroing in on
good dog shampoo.
RELATED STORY: DIY Dog Dry Skin
Treatment (And Handy Medications)
2. Evaluate Your Dog’s Coat
Some dogs have smooth, silky fur. Other dogs have coarse, curly
hair. Some dog fur is prone to tangling and mats, while others
are greasy to the touch. Feel your dog’s fur, and ask your
veterinarian for their opinion. You’ll be one step closer to
choosing a dog shampoo.
RELATED STORY: The Causes of Dog
and Cat Dandruff
3. Consider Your Options
Once you’ve evaluated your dog’s skin and coat, you can take a
look at different shampoo choices for your dog’s particular
If your dog’s skin and coat are normal:
Choose a basic cleansing shampoo, like
Perfect Coat’s Tearless Dog Shampoo. A basic cleansing
shampoo will clean the coat, strengthen it, and leave your dog
If your dog’s skin or coat is dry/itchy:
Choose a soothing shampoo, like Veterinary
Formula Soothing & Deodorizing Oatmeal Shampoo. A soothing
shampoo will clean and moisturize the skin and coat without
stripping skin oils. Most soothing shampoos contain emollients
that increase moisture in the skin, as well as soothing
ingredients such as oatmeal, Vitamin E, aloe vera, and fatty
acids. If your dog’s dryness or itching is severe, your
veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo such as
Epi-Soothe Oatmeal Shampoo.
If your dog’s skin or coat is greasy/oily:
Choose a shampoo specially formulated to remove excess sebum and
grease from the skin and coat, like
Ark Naturals Neem Protect Shampoo. In severe cases, your
veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo such
which removes secretions from the coat and flushes grease from
the hair particles.
If your dog’s coat gets tangled:
Use a 2-in-1 shampoo and condition, like
Fresh n’ Clean’s 2-in-1 Oatmeal Conditioning Shampoo, or a
soothing shampoo followed by a conditioner, like
Richard’s Organics Nourishing Conditioner. Just remember that
matted fur is not easy to detangle even after a conditioner is
used, so brush your dog’s fur before bathing
them and cut out problem mats.
Natural and Homemade Shampoo for Dogs
All dogs need the occasional bath, even dogs that don't shed. When you’re talking
about washing the yuck off your dog, there are plenty
of inexpensive, natural,
and gentle ways to wash a dog. Homemade dog shampoo might be
the answer you need.
What’s Not Green About “Regular” Shampoo for Dogs?
Some of the ingredients in commercial dog shampoos may sound
nice to us, but they can cause itching, flakiness, and general
discomfort when applied to a dog’s very sensitive skin. Some ingredients don’t
sound particularly nice in the first place!
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), for example, is a common cosmetic
base and may be found in some dog shampoos. It is a petroleum
product that can sap the natural moisture from the skin. Sodium
Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which
are detergents commonly found in dog shampoos, have been linked
to eye damage, diarrhea, and
severe skin irritation.
Many human-grade cosmetics are phasing out certain chemicals
that might still be found in dog shampoos. These
chemicals may include phthalates, which control viscosity
(gloopiness versus runniness), or paraben, a preservative added
to extend shelf life. While many of us aren’t too concerned
about the rare application of these small dose chemicals during
doggy bath time, we should be concerned about washing these
chemicals down the drain.
What to Watch Out for When Making Your Own Shampoo for Dogs
Skin pH is a tricky thing. Certain dogs are naturally more
acidic than others, and we’re not talking about
Each dog will have their own skin pH level, and each homemade
soap ingredient will also have its own pH level. A healthy
human pH range for skin is 4.5 to 6.5. For dogs, a healthy
range is between 6 and 8.5. Any soap too low in pH levels (that
means too acidic) can cause skin irritation. When making your
own shampoo for dogs, shoot for ingredients with pH levels
around the 7 mark. Many soaps and soap bases will have pH
levels listed on the label. If not, check the product’s
website, or get in touch with the company to find out.
The pHs of some common household ingredients are:
- Baking Soda: 8.3 (alkaline)
- Water: 7.0 (neutral - neither acidic nor alkaline)
- Vinegar: 2.2 (acid)
- Lemon Juice: 2.0 (acid)
When combining these common ingredients to make dog shampoo, be
sure you’re balancing alkaline substances (like baking soda)
with acidic substances (like vinegar) in a neutral base (like
water) to keep the pH of your shampoo balanced for your dog’s
skin. Too alkaline should not be a problem, but too acidic will
irritate, and can even harm your dog’s skin.
HOW TO MAKE DOG SHAMPOO? DEEP CLEAN RECIPE
Make Dog Shampoo for Deep Cleaning That Lasts! The Vinegar
and Glycerin Bubbly Shampoo Mix Recipe.
- Mix two cups each of apple cider vinegar and
natural/organic dish soap with a 7-8 pH.
- Mix in four cups of water.
- Add 4 oz of vegetable glycerin to your mixture.
- Shake well upon mixing, and again before every use.
Avoid dish soaps with strong scents or artificial additives.
Look for labels that read “free” and “clear.”
Simple Bath Soap Recipe: Unscented Castile Soap, Vinegar, and
Shred 3-4 tablespoons of solid, unscented castile soap with a
cheese grater. Or use 2-3 tablespoons of liquid unscented
castile soap. Add 4 cups of hot water. Mix with a spoon or
whisk until the soap solids are dissolved. Add 1 cup of white
or apple cider vinegar. Pour ingredients into a bottle for
storage. Shake well before each use.
You won’t need much of this soap. It lathers well. Most Castile
soaps will have a pH of around 8.
Getting Fancy Recipe: Rosemary Infusion Conditioner
Mix 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary into 4 cups of water, and
bring the water to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove it from
the heat, and allow it to sit for ten minutes. Strain the
rosemary out, and allow the rosemary water to cool until it’s
about body temperature. After a bath, pour the infusion over
your dog’s coat for extra softness and shine.
Low on Time Dry Dog Shampoo: Baking Soda Rub for a Stinky Pooch
Sprinkle half a cup of dry baking soda all over your dog. Avoid
the face entirely - we don’t want them breathing in the baking
soda, or getting it in their eyes. Rub the baking soda in,
then give your dog a good
brushing. Odors will be reduced or eliminated, and baking
soda should not irritate anyone’s skin.
Tips for a Green Dog Bath:
Don’t Leave Water
Wet your dog, then shut the water off. Lather them up, and be
sure to scrub all over, even between the toes. Avoid eyes,
ears, nose, and mouth. The face can be cleaned with a damp
washcloth separately. When it’s time, turn the water back on
for a good rinse.
Don't Double Lather
If you give a good first wet-down before shampooing, even the
muddiest dog will be already partially clean. Most dogs will be
clean enough after one thorough lathering and a final rinse.
Washing only once saves both water and shampoo and reduces the
chance of drying out your dog’s skin.
Save the hairdryer for yourself, not your dog. Using a
for-humans hair dryer on your dog can dry out your dog’s skin,
and it wastes energy!
Bathe Your Pets at
Unless you use a groomer that adheres to green practices,
chances are your groomer will use more energy, waste more
water, and use more toxic cleansers than you might use at home.
7 of the Best Dog Shampoos for Any Situation
Dogs are messy -- everybody knows it. They love to roll
around in the mud and seem to have no problem walking around
covered in filth. Though they don’t mind smelling to high
heaven, to our delicate olfactory sense, their odor can
become something of an issue. There is, however, something
you can do to remedy this pungent problem -- bath
While you can’t bathe them all the time (because shampoos
remove oils from their fur, and can end up doing more harm
than good if used too often), a bath every now and again will
keep your dog from getting too ripe. And, with the right
shampoo, you can take care of some other problems as well,
such as itchy skin, hot spots, pyoderma, and even flea and
For a better idea of what shampoo you should be using, check
out our wide selection of highly rated and highly effective
shampoos. Your dog will be smelling like a field of daisies
in no time.
All Natural Shampoo
1. Ark Naturals Neem
- The environmentally friendly formula is gentle and
effective at cleaning pets
- Contains neem -- a tree oil used to remove dirt, grease,
and sebum from your pet’s coat
- Safe for dogs of all ages
Richards Organics Deodorizing Shampoo
- The natural formula soothes skin and leaves coat shiny,
healthy, and odor-free
- Contains baking soda, zinc, rosemary extract, & lavender
- Safe and gentle on your dog’s coat
- Doctor recommended
Heavy Duty Shampoo
3. Triple Strength Dirty
Dog Concentrated Shampoo
- Uses patented DirtRepel ionic technology to keep your
pet’s coat clean longer
- Triple strength formula knocks out even the stinkiest
- pH balanced to keep your pet’s skin from drying out
- Contains aloe, Vitamin E, and shea butter for a smooth
- Pleasant green apple and white tea scent
Clinical Care Oatmeal And Tea Tree Oil Infuser
- Contains colloidal oatmeal for all-natural moisturization
- Tea tree oil makes for an effective antibacterial and
- pH balanced specifically for your dog’s skin and fur
- No artificial fragrances
- Great at calming insect bites
Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo
- The soap-free, tearless formula is great for dogs with
- Will not affect flea and tick treatments
- Relieves itching and soothes dry coats
- Great for dogs with seasonal allergies
- Contains aloe extracts and vitamin E
White Hair Shampoo
ExpertCare Healthy Coat Brightening Shampoo
- Contains oatmeal to help moisturize skin
- Uses coat conditioners and brightening agents to add some
sparkle to your dog’s coat
- Soap-free formula soothes dry skin
- Powder fresh scent leaves your dog smelling great
What shampoo do you use on your dog, and why? Leave a
comment and let us know. And to save 20% on dog shampoo, sign
up for PetPlus!
PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides
member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus
discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.
Learn more at PetPlus.com.
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This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your
veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or
other qualified professionals with any questions you may have
regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking
professional advice due to what you may have read on our