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Choosing a Dog Shampoo

Updated on June 18, 2008
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Best Dog Shampoo

Like choosing a shampoo for yourself, you want to make sure that you get the right shampoo for your dog and his coat. Not every shampoo will be beneficial for every dog, as the wrong shampoo can potentially cause a skin reaction, which can range from mild to severe.

One key that you want to remember is that you SHOULD NOT use human shampoo. The shampoo that you use on yourself or your children does not have the correct acidic pH level that is appropriate for your dog. Your dog can have an irritation, especially with repeated use, as human shampoo has a pH that is too low for your dog.

When choosing a dog shampoo, you want to consider the following tips.

First determine you're your dog's skin type.

  • If you see flaking, then your dog has dry skin.
  • If you see oil residue when you rub through his coat, then your dog has oily skin.
  • If you don't see flaking or oil residue, then your dog has normal skin.

Next, take into account the different types of shampoos before picking the first one you see.

Then, make sure that the shampoo is not heavily scented. Although, we all love having a nice smelling dog, heavily scented shampoos can irritate your dog's skin because in order to get that extra smell, the company has to put an extra ingredient in the shampoo. Some dogs may be more tolerant to the extra ingredient, whereas other dogs may have a reaction. You and your dog will be better off with a lightly scented shampoo, instead of a strong a scent that gives the feel that he just left the salon.

Follow these steps for choosing the perfect shampoo for your dog and his skin and coat. Make sure that once you find the perfect shampoo for your dog that doesn't irritate his skin, stick with that brand and type.

Best Natural Dog Shampoo

The first shampoo that you want to consider is an all natural shampoo.

Natural shampoos come in a variety of types, so you should be able to find the perfect one for your dog's skin type and need. You can find all natural flea shampoos, puppy shampoos, conditioners, and regular shampoo.

You want to check out the ingredients on the label of the shampoo to ensure that the shampoo is truly natural. If you can't read the majority of the ingredients, then that shampoo is no all natural, as it's packed with synthetic ingredients.

Generally, all natural dog shampoo will cause less irritation to your dog's skin, as natural shampoos are generally much gentler than dog shampoos packed with synthetic ingredients.

Medicated Dog Shampoos

Medicated dog shampoos come in a variety of forms. The most common being oatmeal, but there are other types that you will want to consider depending on your dog and his needs.

If your dog has dry skin and skin allergies, you may want to consider a natural oatmeal- based dog shampoo.

Shampoos with aloe vera will help relieve fleabites and will reduce itching. The aloe vera will alos help soften your dog's skin.

You may consider using pepperment and tea tree shampoos, as they contain minerals that act as antiseptics, as well as a natural bug repellent.

Shampoos with hydrocortisone and lidocaine will help relieve inflammation and itching.

If your dog has oily, scaly skin and dandruff caused by seborrhea or eczema, you'll want to purchase a medicated shampoo with coal tar. If the dog is experiencing just mild dandruff is usually caused by dry skin, which you can fix by just changing the shampoo, so try that before you try using coal tar mixed with the medicated shampoo.

If you dog still has dry, scaly skin after changing the shampoo, you'll want to contact your veterinarian to rule out a skin condition.

Flea and Tick Shampoo

If your dog has a flea or tick problem, you'll want to consider using a flea shampoo. After the bath, you'll want to apply a flea and tick repellent, such as Frontline.

The main concern with flea and tick shampoos is that you do not get any soap suds in the dog's eyes or mouth

When choosing a flea and tick shampoo for your dog, you want to find a natural shampoo.

I avoid brands like Hartz, and 8 in 1, as they are typically synthetic, which can cause more irritation for the dog than a natural flea and tick shampoo.

You, also, want to avoid purchasing dog flea and tick shampoos for a puppy, as they are very strong, and can irritate a puppy's gentle skin. Although, there are puppy versions of some brands, you want to consult your vet before using a flea and tick shampoo on your pup.

If fleas persist, you'll want to question your vet about the concern.

Dog Detangling Conditioner

A great way to finish off your dog's bath is by using a conditioner.

Dog conditioners soften your dog's coat and makes brushing easier, as well as adds shine to your dog's coat due to the panthenol.

You don't necessarily have to use a conditioner on any dog of an coat, but it will aid brushing long haired and thick coated dogs. You really won't see a difference with short haired dogs.

Buy Color Enhancing (Chemical Free) Dog Shampoo

Shampoos That Enhance Color

There are shampoos that you can purchase for your dog that enhances his color.

For white coated dogs, you'll want to purchase a bluing shampoo, as it contains agents that brighten the dog's coat and remove yellow oxidation and dirt stains.

For black coated dogs, you'll want to purchase darkening shampoos that help to perk up the dog's coat by eliminating yellow and gray oxidation.

Puppy's First Bath

Puppy Shampoo

If you're looking for a puppy shampoo, you want to make sure that you've got a gentle, tearless shampoo. Never use dog shampoos or flea and tick shampoos on puppies, as they can cause skin irritations.

Always stick with shampoos that are clearly marked for puppies.

Generally, you shouldn't bathe puppies under 8 weeks old. For puppies who get a little dirty, you can use dog wipes or waterless bath solutions, which are great for adult dogs, as well, when you want a clean dog but your don't have time to bathe him.

You don't want to over bathe your puppy, as you can dry out the skin and cause irritation. So, in between baths you can use dog wipes.

All Natural Waterless Bath


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    • profile image

      ani 6 years ago

      I have a 10wk puppy and was wondering about what the 'right' age for her first bath would be...happy to read is Ok to bathe her now.. ;-) thanks for the advise

    • profile image

      RC 8 years ago

      I had a problem with ticks also. I came home one day and there must have been a hundred ticks on both of my retrievers.....too many to pull off. I took them to the vet and I called "FleeBusters" who came out and sprayed my yard for ticks. I have not seen any ticks since and that was 10 years ago.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Consider comfortis. It is a flea and tick monthly pill that works wonders.

      Frontline, advantage, and the other topical drops aren't always the best, and don't work for all breeds.

    • profile image

      Susan 8 years ago

      Help me !!!!! I have tried everything that the vet has given me. Frontline, Advantage, and others...and special shampoos from the vet as well, but I cannot keep the ticks off of my Siberian Huskie. He is miserable and they are eating him up. They get down into his ears and all over his body. I have treated the house and the yard. We live in Sarasota in Florida and they are here year round. What can I do?

    • Coraline09 profile image

      Coraline09 9 years ago

      I tell all my friends that, "you should not use a human shampoo . . ." but sadly they just didn't listen until I sent them an article on it, :/ One of my pups got irrated from a shampoo, but the other pups were fine. Had to do alot of research and finally I brought home a winner, her irrated skin went away in 4 days. :)

      Good info!

    • profile image

      anna 9 years ago

      thanks your info is really helpful my puppy has soooooooooo much dry skin and lots and lots of dandruff.i willl definatley us eoatmeal shampoo but should i use oatmeal shampoo or medicated shampoo.

      thanks once again

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      You may actually be interested in the all natural flea and tick repellents and killers that I've posted in my dog grooming and grooming kit hub (link below). They're real easy to make and use.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 9 years ago from ma

      Thanks for the great hub. My dog just got some fleas even though I do use Frontline. So I plan to try one of the flea shampoos. I also plan to try a flea comb and a trap. Have you had luck with any of these? The Adams yard spray sounds like a great idea.

    • profile image

      *Jenny 9 years ago

      Ok, and yes she sure does. Thanks! It's me,I just joined. =)

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Definitely try a natural oatmeal shampoo. Sounds like the chihuahua has sensitive skin.

    • profile image

      Jenny 9 years ago


      Wow, thanks for all this helpful info! I've been thinking on changing dog shampoo for my chihuahua, everytime I use this brand she starts getting rashes and itches like crazy nut my cockapoo doesnt. So, I think I'll try some that are in the adds. Thank you!

      Any more tips you can give I'd be most thankful! :-D

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks! I'm glad that you found my hub and approve! It took me forever to compile all the info. I wanted to make sure that I got the best stuff.

      Adams definitely has a great flea treatment for the yard. I've never used the shampoo, but I have heard great things about it.

    • wilsonskennels profile image

      wilsonskennels 9 years ago from Vernon,florida

      Hello whitney,I am a dog groomer and I have to say I am quite impressed with your write up:) I would like to suggest for dogs with flaky or 'allergy skin' a medicated tar shampoo or an oatmeal shampoo. I did see an oatmeal shampoo that you pointed out which is great! I use Jeffers brand apple/oatmeal it is very mild and softens the coat while soothing the irritated skin. For Fleas I use Adams flea shampoo which works wonders and gets those nasty little fleas OFF! Also Adams has a GREAT yard treatment that you just attach to your water hose and spray the fleas away. I use this in and around my outside dog kennels and it works great! Love the pic of you and your dog ! Thanks for being so informative !