The 5 best dog shampoos for dry skin
The 5 best dog shampoos for dry skin, reviewed
Best all-natural for sensitive skin
Natural Dog Company Sensitive Skin Shampoo
What we love: Colloidal oatmeal is the #1 ingredient in this shampoo from Natural Dog Company and is extra gentle for puppies and dogs of all breeds and ages. Other ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, vitamin E, and lavender oil also help to soothe and relieve dry, itchy skin. And while the formula is fragrance-free, these essential oils and natural ingredients leave your pup with a soft floral aroma while deeply cleaning their coat and skin.
What customers say: Pet parents everywhere are in love with this gentle yet cleansing shampoo, especially for their sensitive-skinned pups. It leaves their coats feeling silky soft and looking shiny, with healthy skin underneath. Some owners also mentioned how their allergy-prone dogs have stopped their foot-licking frenzies after bathing them with this all-natural dog shampoo — and they don’t end up smelling “frou-frou” like with other shampoos!
Ingredients: Aqua (deionized water), aloe vera juice gel, cocamidopropyl betaine, lauramine oxide, sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, glycerin, coconut oil, colloidal oatmeal, chamomile extract, argan oil, mango butter, marigold extract, green tea extract, vitamin e, seaweed extract, manuka honey, lavender oil, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.
Made with beeswax for sensitive skin
Burt’s Bees All Natural Oatmeal Shampoo & Conditioner for Dogs
What we love: Burt’s Bees prides itself on being a top company when it comes to nature-friendly health and beauty care, and this dog shampoo lives up to the hype. Colloidal oat flour and honey are two main ingredients used to nourish your dog’s dry, itchy skin. It’s made without harmful chemicals or artificial fragrances, leaving behind a shiny coat and healthy skin with a whiff of natural scent you’ll love.
What customers say: Dog owners love the natural scent of this oatmeal dog shampoo. Dogs who’ve suffered with hotspots and dry, flaky skin have seen improvements after bathing with it within only a couple of weeks. One thing that’s noted is the lack of “suds” when bathing — because the formula is free of sulfates, you won’t get an easy lather like other shampoos.
Ingredients: Water, coco betaine, coco glucoside, glyceryl oleate, disodium cocoyl glutamate, glycerin, xanthan gum, camelia sinensis (green tea) extract, colloidal oatmeal, honey, beeswax, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate.
Best for dry, itchy skin
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo
What we love: This shampoo from Earthbath is specially formulated for dogs with dry, itchy, and sensitive skin. The two main ingredients, colloidal oatmeal and organic aloe vera, help combat skin irritation, promote healing, and re-moisturize your pup’s skin. We also love that it’s non-toxic and pH-balanced to be safe for puppies and dogs of all ages.
What customers say: Dog owners who’ve tried supplements and other calming shampoos are loving this formula. Their pups’ coats are soft and shiny, and the constant scratching has stopped. And while the shampoo is thoroughly cleansing (even on those extra thick double coats), the scent is subtle and fresh.
Ingredients: Purified water, colloidal oatmeal, renewable plant-derived & coconut-based cleansers, organic aloe vera, vitamins A, B, D, & E, glycerin, allantoin, botanical fragrances of vanilla & almond, preservative.
Formulated for allergies & itchy skin
Natural Dog Company Itchy Dog Shampoo for Allergies and Itching
What we love: If your pup suffers from red, itchy skin caused by allergens, bug bites, or other irritants, this is the shampoo for them. Natural ingredients like eucalyptus oil and aloe vera work to moisturize dry skin and soothe skin irritations. As a bonus, this itchy dog shampoo is handcrafted in the USA without any preservatives or harmful ingredients — so you and your pup can both feel good when using it.
What customers say: Customers can’t seem to recommend this product enough! They love the natural smell leftover after a bath, along with their pup’s shiny, soft coat. Dog owners who were dealing with flaky, crusty skin say their dog’s allergies are no-more after they started using this anti-itch shampoo formula. Some pet parents have even been able to stop giving their dog monthly allergy shots since bathing them with it!
Ingredients: Water, cocamidopropyl betaine, decyl polyglucoside, doe-120, glycerin, phenoxyethanol, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera gel, kelp powder, sodium bicarbonate.
Best for puppies
Rocco & Roxie Dog Shampoo
What we love: Aloe vera extract, rosemary, and chamomile are top ingredients for smoothing your pup’s hair and sealing in moisture, while staying gentle on skin. Rocco & Roxie’s gentle shampoo makes bath time a breeze, which is also great for puppies who may not enjoy being lathered up. Simply massage the shampoo in and rinse out easily in minutes.
What customers say: Pet parents love how easily this shampoo lathers up and rinses off. They also love how much happier and more comfortable their pups are after bathing with it — say buh bye to the endless scratching! It leaves them looking and smelling fantastic.
Ingredients: Purified water, gentle surfactant blend (with coconut-based cleanser), glycerin, aloe vera extract, chamomile, rosemary, stabilizer, honey extract.
How we picked our favorite shampoos
We thoroughly reviewed popular shampoos for itchy skin — If your dog’s skin is irritated, harmful ingredients can only make it worse. So, we chose shampoos with natural ingredients and avoided long formulas with ingredients that are irritating to sensitive skin.
We handpicked the absolute best with our vets — We reviewed the ingredients of each shampoo using Paula’s Choice ingredients dictionary and the EWG Skin Deep® database. Products with poor customer reviews or that contained questionable ingredients didn’t make our list.
👉 These shampoos are made for mild itchiness. If your dog won’t stop itching, even after bathing, you should talk to your vet.
What causes dry skin in dogs?
These shampoos can help with your pup’s mild itchiness, but some conditions might require a trip to the vet for a medicated shampoo.
- Allergies. Food, environmental, and seasonal allergies, such as pollen, dust, grass, grain, and flea saliva can cause a host of symptoms in dogs that often include dry skin.
- Hyperkeratosis. An idiopathic condition that leads to a buildup of skin growth on your dog’s nose. It can become cracked, dry, or crusty and be susceptible to infection.
- Seasonal flank alopecia. A skin condition where affected dogs lose patches of hair on a seasonal basis. It’s generally confined to the flank areas but can sometimes be seen on the bridge of the nose. Both flanks lose hair symmetrically and it can potentially lead to infection.
- Flea bites. Flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva, is one of the most common skin disorders in dogs.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional problems occur most commonly when dogs and cats are fed imbalanced homemade diets.
- Dirt. Environmental dermatitis sometimes can occur when dogs come into contact with substances in the dirt, leading to redness, swelling, rashes, and itchy skin.
- Dry, cold weather. A dog’s skin dries out in the cold winter air just like ours does, which can be itchy and uncomfortable.
- Skin infections. Bacterial and fungal infections, such as yeast infections or dandruff, can cause an array of symptoms in your pup. These infections can sometimes be secondary to another underlying cause.
- Immune system or hormone problems. Dry skin can sometimes be a symptom of a systemic disease in your dog. Two of the main diseases are Cushing’s and hypothyroidism, but dry skin can also be a symptom of auto-immune diseases and cancer.
Look for these ingredients in a moisturizing dog shampoo
Our vet, Dr. Irish, recommends shampoos with the following soothing ingredients:
- Aloe vera. Like for human skin, aloe vera has many beneficial properties for doggie skin. It reduces redness and cools.
- Oatmeal extract. This ingredient relieves itchiness and redness and will leave your dog’s fur shining.
- Pramoxine. This topical anesthetic alleviates itching and decreases swelling that’s caused by minor skin irritation.
- Salicylic acid. If your dog’s skin is excessively dry like with hyperkeratosis, pet owners should look for a shampoo with this ingredient.
👉 While aloe vera is an effective ingredient to treat itchy dog skin, just make sure your dog doesn’t eat it!
Ingredients to avoid in doggie shampoos
You know to look at the ingredient list on your dog’s food bag, but do you know to look at the ingredients of their shampoo? Some shampoos are made with some not-so-safe ingredients that pet parents should look out for.
- Fragrance. If you see “fragrance” in the ingredient list, there could be a variety of unnatural ingredients that go into it. If its scent comes from a natural source, chances are it’ll be on the packaging.
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone. Added as an anti-fungal and preservative, but it’s also a carcinogen that’s associated with organ poisoning. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it’s probably best to avoid it.
- Artificial colors. Brightly colored shampoos could contain unnatural and potentially dangerous dyes.
- MEA/Cocamide DEA. Derived from coconut, but it must be chemically altered to the point it becomes a “moderate cancer causing” agent.
- Mineral oil. A by-product of “distilled gasoline made from crude oil” that coats the skin and doesn’t allow it to naturally eliminate toxins or oils. There are studies that mineral oil could potentially be toxic.
- Parabens. Known as a “potential cancer causing agent.”
- Tea tree oil. Our team of vets recommend avoiding formulas with tea tree oil because, if ingested, it can be toxic to dogs.
Talk to your vet about the best shampoo for Fido
Your dog’s diagnosis will lead to the right treatment plan, so it’s important to consult with your vet quickly. If the dry skin is a symptom of a larger condition like a bacterial infection, your vet can usually treat both the dry skin and the condition causing it without much issue.
If the dry skin is caused by allergies, however, treatment can be a little trickier. A dog with food allergies may need an elimination diet to determine the ingredient they’re allergic to, while environmental allergy symptoms can typically only be managed versus cured.
Depending on the cause of your dog’s dry skin, your vet may recommend bathing them in a soothing dog shampoo. For example, these pet shampoos are usually a good option for managing environmental allergies.
How to prevent dry, irritated skin in dogs
Feed a high-quality, balanced diet — A healthy diet will keep your dog healthy from the inside out. It’s vital to start them on high-quality food even in puppyhood.
Stay up-to-date on preventatives — Avoid flea bite reactions by making sure your dog gets their monthly flea and tick treatments.
Groom your dog regularly — If you’re unsure of how often your dog needs to be groomed, talk with your vet or groomer. Regular brushing and shampooing helps prevent buildup of dirt and debris.
Give supplements when necessary — If your dog is susceptible to sensitive skin, ask your vet about supplements that can help. Salmon oils with fatty acids like omega 3’s are known to improve shine in dog coats.
Schedule regular veterinary checkups — It’s important to maintain a VCPR (vet-client-patient relationship) to be able to monitor your dog’s overall health.
Research your breed — Some breeds are more prone to dry skin than others. Be sure to learn what skin conditions your pup is predisposed to and how to prevent them.
Keep facial skin folds clean — This is especially important in breeds with skin folds, like bulldogs or pugs.
Frequently asked questions
How often should you bathe your dog with dry skin?
You should talk to your veterinarian about how much your dog needs to bathe. Because every dog is different, generalized bathing schedules aren’t advice. However, if your dog is having skin issues, it’s safe to bathe up to every 48 to 72 hours, depending on the type of shampoo you’re using.