Shampoos For Dogs – How To Choose The Right One?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
We all know that every dog needs bathing, but be sure to use shampoo that will not hurt your dog's skin. This guide will help you choose the right one.

Most dog owners have had experience with their dogs rolling around, playing in dirt and, of course, bringing it all back home.

While dogs don’t mind the smell, you as a dog owner may not be as thrilled with your smelly dog. This is why baths and regular cleanings are necessary, especially if you live in a flat. It is not uncommon that dogs want to avoid this process; nonetheless, it should not be avoided for numerous reasons.

Why Should I Shampoo My Dog?

As mentioned, dogs can get very dirty and they are not able to clean themselves enough. Even if they don’t mind the bad smell, you as a dog owner might want your house to be clean and smell nice.

Besides these reasons, dogs need protection just as us. Dirt and other material they may bring home with them could attract bacteria and parasites, which could eventually result in various infections.

So, since we have stated that baths are necessary, it is also important to state the frequency of the baths.

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

You don’t have to use shampoo for your dog on a regular basis. Once in a few months is enough, with some water baths in between. Shampooing your dog more often could cause irritations and dry skin.

Therefore, your shampoo bottle is likely to last for a year at this rate, which is why you may consider buying a better shampoo for your dog with quality ingredients. Some natural moisturizers you could look for in a dog shampoo are aloe vera, vitamin E, honey and tea tree oil.

What Fragrances Should I Choose?

The fragrances for your dog shampoo should ideally be natural, for example chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender or citrus. These are all mild and natural fragrances and some are even insect repellents at the same time. Always make sure that there are no artificial scents or colors added to the shampoo. Read the label!

Apart from natural ingredients, are there some shampoos that are better than the others?

What Are The Best Shampoos For Dogs?

There is not only one answer to this question – it simply depends on your dog’s needs. It is important to examine your dog before bathing in order to see if there are some special needs you should be aware of, such as dry skin. Once you have found this out, the shampoo selection will be much easier.

Before we start analyzing different types of dog shampoos, it is important to answer the following question most dog owners probably have asked themselves:

Can I Use Human Shampoo On My Dog?

You forgot to buy shampoo for your dog and you realize your dog needs a bath. What do you do? Do you use your own shampoo on your dog? No doubt that it will help clean your dog, but is it good for it?

In order to answer this question it is important to explain the term acid mantle.

What Is An Acid Mantle And Why Is It Important?

This is a layer that covers the skin, functioning as a protection of the top layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. It protects from bacteria, viruses and other environmental contaminants.

When we use soap and shampoo we scrub away this layer, which is why most human shampoos have moisturizing ingredients that replace the protective layer. If our skin is unprotected it is very open to microorganisms, which may result in dry skin, irritations etc.

The acid mantle is also an indicator of the Ph balance of the skin. The normal level of skin Ph for humans range from 5.2 to 6.2 and our shampoos and soaps are adapted to this level in order to keep the balance.

When it comes to dogs, their Ph level goes from 5.5 to 7.5, depending on breed, gender, climate etc. Therefore, if you use human products on your dog their acid mantle will be disrupted and result in a bigger risk of bacteria and viruses, making the Ph level unbalanced.

This is why it is extremely important that you look for shampoos that maintain the Ph level of your pet’s skin. Dog shampoos should be neutral when it comes to Ph level, around 7.

How About Baby Shampoo?

Baby shampoo is fine to use on your dog as a backup plan, as it is much milder than shampoos designed for adults. However, you should always prefer dog shampoo to baby shampoo.

Now, let’s talk about things you should pay attention to while choosing the right dog shampoo.

How To Choose The Right Dog Shampoo?

Before choosing the perfect dog shampoo that will make your dog’s coat healthy, silky and shiny, you should pay attention to several things first.

First of all, you should know what your dog needs. Is your pup’s coat soft enough? Does your dog suffer from itchy skin? If yes, you should opt for shampoos that have soothing properties.

Is your dog’s coat prone to tangling and matting? You can even opt for conditioning shampoos that will smoothen out tangles. In any case, identifying what your dog specifically needs will put you on the right track to find a good shampoo.

Next, if this is not the first time your buying shampoo for your dog, you might have discovered so far which fragrances or ingredients irritate your dog. Your dog’s skin might be too sensitive for products with tea tree oil, or your pup might simply hate how citrus scents smell.. You don’t want to drive your dog nuts, so make sure you’re not buying him shampoo with things he hates.

Additionally, doing an online research and reading product reviews will definitely reveal you the most realistic image of what you’re about to buy. Make sure you read the good and the bad ones, because you want to know both good and bad sides of it.

Finally, let’s guide you through essential steps of choosing the right shampoo for your Fido.

1. Skin Issues

If your pup has any specific problems that are skin or coat related, you should consult your vet and ask him which products are most suitable ones for your dog’s case.

2. Skin pH

In order to keep your dog’s skin healthy, it’s important to pay attention to maintaining your dog’s right skin pH. Their skin pH ranges from 2.2 to 7.5 which makes their skin quite sensitive.

Make sure the shampoo you’re buying is ensuring the skin pH stays within the specified range.

3. Skin Type

Not all dogs should use same shampoos. For instance, some white coloured breeds might use whitening shampoos that enable deep stains to go away.

However, dogs can also have dry, normal and oily type of skin which means not every shampoo will fit each dog equally well.

Consult your vet in order to understand better which skin type your pup has.

What Types Of Shampoos Are There?

Cleansing Shampoos

The name says itself. Cleansing shampoos are for regular baths, for a good cleaning and a fresh scent. There are a lot of different ones to choose from, but once again, it is important to choose those with natural ingredients. There are also a lot of recipes for homemade shampoos.

Medicated Shampoo

These shampoos are for dogs with skin, coat or health issues. Some of them could be psoriasis, lesions, infections etc. Usually the safest choice is the one prescribed by your veterinarian.

How About Problems Caused By Ticks Or Fleas?

When it comes to temporary problems, such as ticks, fleas or other parasites, most medicated shampoos should contain the insecticide pyrethrum.

However, you should be aware that it dries out the skin and lead to increased itching, biting and scratching. It will also cause discomfort during eye contact.

This is one of the reasons homeopathic shampoos are becoming more popular when it comes to medicated shampoos. Shampoos labeled ‘‘All natural ingredients’’ are a great choice for conditioning and repelling pests.

No-Rinse Shampoos

No-rinse shampoos are great for keeping your dog clean if, for example, you have company over and you want to be sure that your dog stays that way.

They usually come in a spray or pump. You spray the shampoo on your dog’s coat. After that, just remove the excess and let your dog dry.

While no-rinse shampoos are a great and practical time saver, they shouldn’t be used regularly or instead of a water bath.

Dry Shampoos

Humans are not the only ones who use dry shampoo! They are an effective way to deodorize and fresh up your dog.

They usually come in a powder form. When applied to the coat they absorb excess oils. It must be brushed out or it will cause itching and scratching.

Just like with no-rinse shampoos, dry shampoos are not meant for regular use and should be used only when, for one or another reason, full baths are not an option.

Specialty Shampoos

These specialty, whitening shampoos are used to remove blood stains, urine, grass and food stains from the coat. Some are designed to bring out the color or the silkiness of your dog’s coat. Most popular ones are the ones that bring out the color of the coat. Unlike human color shampoos, they do not dry out the fur.

There are all shampoos you can use in, let’s say, normal situations.

How about when something out of the ordinary happens, for example that your dog runs into a skunk?

In these situations you should use deodorizing shampoos prescribed by your vet. Wear gloves and a mask.

Also, wear clothes you won’t wear again, because the skunk odor can’t be washed out. Pour the shampoo over your dog’s coat and leave it standing for at least 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes you will only have to repeat twice, and sometimes four or more times. It all depends on the situation.

These were some of the usual types of dog shampoos every dog owner should be aware of.


Once again, the frequency of the bath is more important than the shampoo you choose, not including human shampoo of course.

Too frequent shampooing could lead to dry skin, irritations and other discomforts. Human shampoo, as mentioned, should be avoided as it is too abrasive for your dog.

It is also important to examine your dog before you start using various shampoos, in order to discover if he or she has some problems, such as allergies or dry skin.

Once you have established this, the only problem remaining will possibly be your dog not liking the whole bathing process. However, it is necessary for many reasons and with time, once your dog realizes that it is something that has to be done, the whole process will become much easier.

Even though it is not true that your dog will be thrilled when it comes to shampooing and baths, you are doing both your dog and yourself as a dog owner a big favor!

Hope you found this article helpful. If so, feel free to spread the word!