The Best Dog Shampoo and Conditioner for 2021

By John Myers / June 26, 2021

Having a good dog shampoo is crucial, especially if your pet lives inside your house. It’s no secret that dogs like to dig holes in the ground and enjoy getting dirty. So, it’s important that you know how to bathe your dog properly, and be sure to wash them with a good quality shampoo that will make you and your pet happy.

From the first use, you can easily tell if you’re using a lousy shampoo.  Some shampoos, for example, lose that fresh, clean smell days after bathing your pet.

Keep in mind, the perfect shampoo is more than just a pleasant scent. There are many brands out there that make shampoos for dogs, so it can be a little tricky to find the perfect one.

You might wonder, what are the best dog shampoos available? Well, we’ve done our own research and provided our top 8 choices.

How to Pick the Right Dog Shampoo?

Dirty dog about take a bathFinding the right shampoo can be difficult, especially if you’re unsure of what ingredients you’re looking for.  Certain shampoos are meant to help different types of coats or skin conditions. Without doing your homework first, you might choose the wrong product, which might end up causing more harm than good.  Read through some of the factors to consider when finding the shampoo for your pet.

Coat Type

Some dogs have thin or fine coats, like chihuahuas. Their coats are single-layered with no thick undercoat. This low-density coat makes it easy to see through the hair and down to the skin. The best part about having a dog with thin fur is that it doesn’t need to be bathed as frequently as other canines with thicker coats. So, pups with thin coats need a formula that will condition their skin and coat, repel dirt, and leave them clean and shiny.

dog taking a bath in sinkCanines with a medium or regular coat need a shampoo that is a little bit stronger than shampoo you would use on a thin coat. Dogs with a medium coat, such as poodles and rottweilers, need a bottle of shampoo that will build a nice lather.

Dogs with thick or double-coats need to be bathed more frequently than the previously mentioned coat types. German Shepherds and Huskies are examples of breeds with heavy coats and need a shampoo that lathers well and penetrates down to the undercoat. You will also want a shampoo that rinses well and a formula that includes a conditioner to keep the thick coat look clean and shiny.

Fleas or Ticks

A dog’s fur is the perfect environment for fleas and ticks to thrive. Although fleas are a problem year-round, they are more common during the warmer months. These pests should not be taken lightly. If not dealt with correctly, a variety of things may happen, like intense itching, hair loss, scabs, and rashes may occur. Anemia may also become a concern for severe flea and tick problems.  

dog scratching its fleasTo spot a flea and tick infestation, check your pet’s fur for signs such as dark specks for flea droppings or white dots for eggs. Other ways to check for infestation is by looking for hot spots on the skin, excessive itching or licking, and scabs.

To help with this problem, use dog flea and tick shampoo. The best ones on the market will not only kill fleas and ticks but also repel mosquitos. I usually stick to brands with natural formulas, free of sulfate and parabens. Also, some useful formulas include pyrethrins, which are organic chemical compounds that serve as natural insecticides. Also, for skin that needs help recovering from numerous bites, quality shampoos include aloe vera or lanolin to comfort and soothe irritated skin.

Age

old dogConsider the age of your pup as well.  For puppies, there are special tearless, extra-gentle formulas for their delicate skin and coat. These shampoos generally moisturize without being too harsh or drying the skin.

We strongly suggest using an organic or all-natural formula that is free of dyes, parabens, alcohol, and other artificial ingredients that may be harmful to your puppy’s sensitive skin. You can also use a regular dog shampoo on a puppy, just don’t use the heavily medicated ones that you would use for flea and ticks. Also, stay away from heavily scented shampoos.

Skin Condition

dog with dry skin scratchingAn essential factor to consider is your dog’s skin type. Does your dog have dry, itchy, or excessive dandruff? Then a moisturizing shampoo, such as dog dandruff shampoo,  is the way to go. Like we said in the previous section, shampoos for dry skin should include ingredients that will relieve the discomfort and itchiness of dry skin. So, look for products with Vitamin E, aloe vera, oatmeal, or honey. Consult your veterinarian to help you decide what type of shampoo you should use on your pet.

Shedding

dog about to take a bathLike we said earlier, shedding is typical for some breeds. Some just shed more than others. However, there is such thing as excessive shedding, and you should consult your veterinarian for shampoos to limit such cases. Unnecessary shedding can be the result of an imbalance in the skin’s pH levels, allergies, and stress, to name a few.

The formula used in shampoos to treat shedding have a balanced pH to make sure your pet’s skin does not dry out. Also, they are full of essential ingredients to moisturize irritated and dry skin, such as Vitamin E, oatmeal, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Harmful ingredients

old dog showeringIf you flip the shampoo bottle over, you’ll probably see a long, confusing list of ingredients the product contains. But, there are some ingredients to stay away from because they can irritate or damage your dog’s skin or coat, or cause an allergic reaction.

Overall, try to choose formulas with natural fragrances such as citrus or lavender. Also, try to avoid shampoos with artificial dyes and preservatives, like parabens. Some pet owners try to avoid unwanted, harmful ingredients by purchasing organic or all-natural formulas.

Preservatives

Companies add preservatives to their products to extend the shelf-life of the product by protecting against all the possible microbes that can cause the growth of mold, fungi, and both.

So the question is, are preservatives good or bad? The one misconception is that all preservatives are bad. The truth is that anything that can kill living cells has the potential to be toxic. But it is the dose or amount of the preservative that makes them poisonous for your pet.  

Woman selecting animal shampoo in pet shopFor example, parabens, which are low-cost synthetic chemical preservatives, were developed to keep the cosmetics from growing bacteria, fungus, and mold. Now, the opinions of parabens have been mixed. Some claim the amount used in pet shampoo is not enough to poison your pet. While some argue, that if used enough, parabens can cause cancer. To the point where manufacturers are beginning to promote “paraben-free” formulas on their label. When honestly, the real concern should be that some of these preservatives are sensitizers or can cause allergic reactions, such as Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone. So we strongly suggest doing your research.  

Preservatives that are not bad for your pet’s health should be:

  1. Broad spectrum of activity
  2. Effective and safe at low concentrations
  3. Does not negatively interact with any other ingredients or become inactivated by other ingredients.
  4. Water soluble and oil insoluble
  5. Stable under all temperatures and pH conditions that would occur during manufacture and use.
  6. Colorless and odorless

Best Dog Shampoo Reviews

PET CARE Sciences Dog Shampoo

One of the best things about this shampoo is that it can be used on puppies and adult dogs. Its 5-in-1 formula is what sets this product apart from its competitors. This product from Pet Care Sciences will not only clean and condition your pet’s fur, but it will also moisturize, detangle, and leave your furry friend smelling fresh.

It’s made of coconut, oatmeal, and aloe extract. This gentle formula is meant to soothe and calm your pet’s skin. Also, it’s good for canines with allergies, and those with flaky skin.

This naturally derive formula is PH balanced, with a light scent of coconut. It hydrates dry skin and leaves your dog’s coat soft, silky and shiny. It is free of soap and won’t irritate or cause itchiness for your pup.

The Pet Care Science shampoo is handy to use on large and small breeds. So, if you’re an owner of different breeds, you can do so with only one bottle of shampoo. It does not contain any DEA, MEA, Phosphate, Parabens, or Sulfate.

Besides, professional groomers claim that dogs are always more calm and happy to enjoy their baths when they’re using the Pet Care Science shampoo.

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Martha Stewart All-Purpose Conditioner

Customers find comfort in this product because it bears the Martha Stewart name, who has been a trusted lifestyle icon for over 30 years. This product is suitable for all dogs and made with the highest quality ingredients, such as oatmeal and aloe.

The extra gentle, yet effective formula contains vitamin E, to add moisture and shine to your pet’s coat. It is hypoallergenic and biodegradable and made with natural botanicals. This item is free of sulfates and parabens.

This conditioner is pH balanced and perfect for dogs with sensitive skin. Each one of Martha Stewart’s products is hand selected to ensure best in class quality and design. The soap-free formula is safe to use with flea and tick treatments.

The reviews for this product have been generally positive. Pet parents that have dogs with sensitive or dry skin have noticed an improvement in the quality of their pet’s fur after a couple uses.

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KORE NATURAL

The soap-free formula is made with probiotics. Probiotics protect the body from harmful bacteria, allowing the good bacteria to thrive. The product is 98.5% natural, paraben and sulfate-free, pH-balanced for dogs, and soap-free.

The gentle conditioner moisturizes and hydrates the coat, leaving your pet’s fur silky and smooth. Also, this product supports the skin’s natural defense against excessive shedding, itchiness, dryness, hot spots, and odor. Results should be noticeable within 2-4 weeks after first use.

There is nothing to lose with this product as the manufacturer offers a full money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase.

Some customers suggest purchasing other KORE products, such as the Deodorizer and Detangler for the most effective results. Some customers noticed a definite improvement in the smoothness and softness of their pet’s coat after a couple uses.

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Isle of Dogs Everyday

 This silky coating conditioner is made in the USA. It is formulated to moisturize, protect, and add shine; even to tangle-prone hair. In addition, its formula will help reduce shedding. Also, it features the Isle of Dogs signature warm floral Jasmine + Vanilla scent.

Overall, this product received positive reviews and highly recommended product among consumers. Customers appreciate that this product does exactly what it is intended to do, in that it leaves the fur feeling soft and silky, with no tangles.

 Also, it makes the hair easy to brush through. However, this conditioner is not meant for treating itchiness so you might need to look at other medicated conditioners. One concern is that this product contains artificial dyes and fragrances. So we strongly suggest monitoring your pet’s fur and skin after each use to see if they have any allergic reactions.

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Paws & Pals

 This conditioner by Paws & Pals features a tear-free formula that will not irritate your dog’s eyes or nose. This is made possible by its natural oils and extracts. This organic blend is full of natural and healthy ingredients, such as aloe vera, rosemary, and shea butter.

It has a long-lasting fresh aroma of honey and vanilla. This conditioner is designed to detangle and moisturize to give your pet soft and smooth fur.

This product received plenty of positive reviews. Owners of dogs with sensitive skin love that this formula helped get rid of dandruff, and dry, irritated skin. Overall, making their fur silky and soft, with no tangles.

However, we suggest you monitor your pet after the first couple uses since some customers’ pets did have allergic reactions, getting itchy hives.

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Sofee & Co.

This product by Sofee & Co. features a gentle, all-natural formula that moisturizes and gently cleans and deodorizes your canine’s coat. It is fresh, pure, and mild and will leave your pet with a soft and silky smooth coat.

Also, it is safe for use on puppies, cats, and kittens. Oatmeal is added to the original formula to help moisturize and condition dry, itchy, flaky, and sensitive skin. All of the ingredients are naturally derived and free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, phthalates, and artificial colors and dyes.

It is especially useful for long-haired and hypoallergenic breeds, such as a Shih Tzu and Maltese. It is also safe to use on puppies.

Customers love this product, stating it leaves their dog’s coat soft and smooth, with a fresh scent. They appreciate the all natural formula and it how it rinses well, without leaving any residue.

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Organic/Natural

 

Fluppets

This shampoo is made from organic oils and certified organic according to the USDA organic food standards. It is a conditioning shampoo is highly concentrated, yet synthetic free and made to promote a healthy and hydrated coat.  It is hypoallergenic and safe to use on puppies and adult dogs to treat itchy or sensitive skin.

This is possible due to the absence of any harmful, artificial ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, and synthetic fragrances. Fluppets uses a long list of natural ingredients, such as organic coconut, olive, and jojoba oils.

Also, it features a natural essential oil blend of lemongrass, rosemary, and organic aloe vera. It is proudly manufactured in the USA and donates money to the Best Friends Animal Society with every purchase.

The shampoo received many positive reviews, except that some customers were disappointed in how much eye irritation it caused after accidentally getting some in their pet’s eyes. Also, it comes with a money back guarantee if you’re not 100% satisfied with the product.

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BotaniVet

Just like the previous shampoo, this product is USDA certified organic and contains 100% natural ingredients. This product is completely safe, non-toxic, and free of GMOs. Also, it does not contain any harsh chemicals, sulfates, or alcohol.

Its non-irritating formula is excellent for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. The highlighted ingredient is Manuka honey, which is made by bees from the mountains and forests of the island country of New Zealand. Manuka honey is known for its antibacterial and antifungal qualities and promotes healthy skin.

It contains the soothing ingredients of coconut, jojoba, and olive oil; as well as aloe vera to help with itchy skin. It is made in the USA and comes with a fresh berry scent.

Customers gave positive reviews about this product, stating it is excellent for pets with sensitive and allergies. They like that the scent is not overwhelming as well as lathers and rinses nicely, leaving their coat soft and shiny. However, some customers did say the shampoo was too greasy for them. But overall, this is a quality product for dogs with sensitive skin.

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Why Not Human Shampoo Instead?

The reason why you should not use human shampoo to clean your dog comes down to maintaining pH levels in your pet’s skin. We measure pH using a scale ranging from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  The closer to 0 something measures on the pH scale means it is more acidic. On the other hand, the closer to 14 an item measures on the spectrum means it is more alkaline.

Human shampooFor reference, in general, pH levels in humans are more on the acidic side, ranging anywhere from 5.2 to 6.2. However, canines have higher pH levels, from 5.5 to 7.5.

So you’re probably wondering what the big deal is. First, shampoo for humans is made to maintain that pH level. So, if you use shampoo for humans on your dog, then you risk lowering the pH of your canine’s skin.

Changing those pH levels can affect your dog’s acid mantle, which is the thin protective layer of its outermost skin.  So, if that thin protective layer is compromised, you expose your dog to parasites, viruses, and unwanted bacteria. Also, your pup may experience dry or irritated skin, which can lead to more undesired scratching.

Different Types of Dog Shampoos

bottles of pet shampooNowadays, the market is full of options as far as dog shampoos. One can buy organic shampoos or shampoos with conditioner. Also, you can purchase special shampoos with specific ingredients due to allergies, sensitive skin, or other skin disorders.

Below are some of the particular types of dog shampoos that are commonly bought among pet owners.

Deodorizing for Smelly Dogs

smelly dog lying downSometimes a regular strength shampoo may not do enough to eliminate that foul stench and odor. A dog with smelly skin can sometimes be a result of its breed type or active lifestyle. For example, a type of canine that is known to smell is a Saint Bernard.  A combination of its excessive drooling, thick double-coat, and active outdoor lifestyle makes the Saint Bernard a perfect candidate for deodorizing shampoo.

Each brand may use various combinations of ingredients. Which may include natural or artificial ingredients, or maybe a combination of both. Whatever brand you choose, check the label to ensure your dog won’t have any adverse reactions to the product’s ingredients.

You can see some of those brands through our best dog smelling shampoo guide.

Dry Skin

If you notice your dog constantly scratching, nibbling, or licking a certain patch of skin on its body, those are symptoms of dry skin.  Also, if you observe reddened or raised spots on their coat, that can be another sign of irritated skin. Before purchasing shampoo for dry or itchy skin, we suggest first seeking the advice of a veterinarian.

dog with dry skin bathingTo help with dry skin, look for a moisturizing shampoo to help relieve the discomfort from the irritated skin. Stay away from scented shampoos because that can further aggravate your dog’s skin. Look for a shampoo with natural oils to help maintain a shiny coat.

Other soothing ingredients to help with dry skin are aloe vera, Vitamin E, and honey.  For example, a common cause of dry skin in canines is excessive dandruff. A product that is typically used is a dog dandruff shampoo.

Oatmeal shampoos are other excellent products to help with dry skin and keep the coat looking smooth. It is one ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years. Oatmeal dog shampoos are carefully crafted and effective in balancing pH levels, featuring chemicals such as avenanthramides and phenols.  

Some of the better oatmeal shampoo brands include Vitamin E and aloe vera to help soothe itchy skin.

Shedding

Depending on the type of breed, a dog may shed either frequently, seasonally, or very minimally, which is entirely normal. However, unwanted or excessive shedding may be the cause of stress, fleas, fungal infections, etc. What you need is a special shampoo to control excessive shedding.

These shampoos are full of ingredients that promote a healthy skin and coat. They may use a combination of artificial and natural ingredients, so we suggest checking for any ingredients that your dog might be allergic to. Some examples of typical ingredients to help with excessive shedding include omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, calendula, or papaya leaf extract.

Final Thoughts

dog taking a bathNo doubt, it’s important to wash your pet regularly, so it has nice fur and healthy skin. Of course, there are some things you must think about before buying shampoo for your breed. Think about your pet’s skin and if it’s prone to any allergies. Also, consider the scent you’d like the most if you’re sensitive to any strong scents. So for 2018, we recommend the Fresh N Clean Pet Shampoo for most breeds.

Its formula and ingredients sooth the skin and eliminate any tangled hair and irritation. What’s most important, it comes in a large, 1-gallon bottle so you won’t have to constantly buy another one. Overall, any of these shampoos are great choices depending on the formula and scent you prefer.

Your dog’s well-being and health is the most important thing, and are a priority to every one of these brands. We hope that you found some information on our best dog shampoos guide!

Sources

  1. How to Bathe Your Dog Correctly – msue.anr.msu.edu
  2. 7 Common Causes of Dry Dog Skin. – petcarerx.com
  3. PRESERVATIVES: GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – groomblog.blogspot.com
About the author

John Myers

When I'm not working, you can find me spending all my time with my dogs. My dogs mean the world to me, and I do my best to give them the world. I'll do anything for them. I hope that my love for dogs can spread with everyone else that visits my site.