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Best itchy dog shampoos

Nobody likes having itchy skin, not even your pup. Soothing shampoos can help relieve moderately dry and itchy dog skin, but not all shampoos are created equal. Because we want the best for your doggies, we reviewed and tested some of the most popular products on the market that claim to ease dogs’ itchy skin.

Our review expert, Sara Ondrako, tested each shampoo and ranked them based on smell, ingredients, application, effectiveness, and packaging. Our veterinarian, Dr. Erica Irish, also reviewed each product, so you can feel confident that these shampoos will finally bring the relief your pup is looking for.

Shampoos we loved for itchy skin

Our top pick

We chose Natural Dog Company’s Sensitive Skin Shampoo as our top pick. Gentle, effective ingredients work well at cleaning dogs’ fur and skin without causing further irritation. It lathers decently but rinses out thoroughly, so there’s no shampoo residue left behind on a pup’s fur. Plus, we liked the light lavender scent.

  • Smell. Similar to the company’s Itchy Dog Shampoo, this product has a lavender scent that’s lighter but longer lasting than the other Natural Dog Company shampoo we tested.
  • Ingredients. Our product reviewer, Sara Ondrako, and vet, Dr. Erica Irish, approved of the safe ingredients in this shampoo.
  • Application. This shampoo is neither too thin nor too sudsy. It lathers moderately and rinses out without much elbow grease.
  • Effectiveness. This shampoo left our 50-pound dog with a clean coat and zero residue.
  • Packaging. Like the other Natural Dog Company shampoo we ordered, this product comes in a securely sealed bottle without extra plastic.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish likes Natural Dog Company’s brand reputation and recommends this product based on its safe and effective list of ingredients.

Easiest to apply

Burt’s Bees is a popular company for humans, and we found that it works well for our furry friends, too. We like the ingredients list and the price of this shampoo, but we were most impressed with how silky it left our dog’s fur. Many oatmeal shampoos can smell too sweet, but this one has a faint, natural smell that we approved of.

  • Smell. We expected to open this shampoo and smell an iced oatmeal cookie, but instead, this product smells faintly of oat flour. The scent is only present during use and doesn’t last on a dog’s coat after a bath.
  • Ingredients. Our vet approved of this product’s ingredients, which include green tea extract, colloidal oatmeal, honey, and beeswax.
  • Application. We ranked this as the easiest shampoo to apply. It has a thin texture that lathers up well but fully rinses out of a dog’s coat.
  • Effectiveness. This shampoo left our dog’s skin clean and their coat was shiny and smooth once their fur dried. It felt similar to using a conditioner.
  • Packaging. There’s minimal risk of leaks here. The bottle arrived tightly sealed with plastic that we had to cut through with scissors.

What our vet thinks

For the Burt’s Bees dog shampoo, the ingredients impressed Dr. Irish. She also liked that this shampoo is suitable for dogs of all ages, from puppies to older adults. Her only concern? The product description says this shampoo is tearless, but also to avoid contact with eyes. To be safe, you should keep this shampoo away from your pup’s eyes.

Our hypoallergenic pick

The Natural Dog Company Itchy Dog Shampoo is our hypoallergenic pick. Some soothing shampoos can have an overly sweet or herbal smell, but this product has a lavender and eucalyptus scent that makes bathtime more pleasant. It lathers well for deep cleaning and hydration, but it’s still easy to rinse out of dog fur.

  • Smell. This shampoo has a lavender scent with hints of eucalyptus. We could smell it pretty strongly — but not in an overpowering way — while giving a dog a bath, but the scent didn’t linger afterward.
  • Ingredients. The ingredients, which include jojoba oil and aloe vera, are natural and safe. There are no parabens or sulfates.
  • Application. We poured out the shampoo to the size of about two quarters for the body and legs of a 50-pound dog. It lathered up well but wasn’t overly sudsy. Afterward, it rinsed out easily and didn’t leave any residue on the dog’s coat.
  • Effectiveness. The shampoo cleaned our dog’s coat, and it didn’t irritate their skin further. That being said, for an over-the-counter shampoo, it didn’t work any miracles. The dog still scratched at its skin at the same frequency after the bath as they did before the bath.
  • Packaging. Despite no extra plastic packaging on the outside, the bottle remained secure and didn’t leak.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Irish was already impressed with this brand’s reputation, and the ingredients ticked off the right boxes for her. She recommends this product for its safety and effectiveness, but Dr. Irish does wish the company would provide clinical trial data for the Itchy Dog Shampoo. According to Dr. Irish, clinical trial data offers the best information when it comes to safety and efficacy.

The best bang for your buck

The Rocco & Roxie Dog Shampoo features clean ingredients like coconut-based cleanser, honey extract, aloe vera, chamomile, and rosemary. While it took us longer to apply this thick shampoo, it did effectively clean our dog’s skin and coat. It was easier to rinse than we expected and had a subtle scent.

  • Smell. While the product is meant to smell like chamomile and rosemary, we only got a faint whiff of chamomile. Still, we were happy to find that the smell was subtle and not overly floral.
  • Ingredients. This shampoo has a short ingredient list full of natural ingredients.
  • Application. The Rocco & Roxie shampoo is thicker than the other products we tested, and it was hard to spread across the dog’s body. It also didn’t lather much, so we weren’t sure how much to use or if it was actually cleaning the pup.
  • Effectiveness. Fortunately, this shampoo did rinse out easily, and we found that it did leave our pup’s coat clean.
  • Packaging. The shampoo bottle is sealed with plastic that we were able to remove without scissors.

What our vet thinks

Despite a lack of clinical trial data, Dr. Irish approved of this shampoo, particularly for its natural ingredients. She said this shampoo is a safe option for dry, itchy skin.

Our research process 

Why you should trust our reviews 

  • Dr. Erica Irish helped us put together this list — After our team narrowed down a large list of the most popular shampoos for itchy dog skin, Dr. Irish helped us find the best of the best. She reviewed every product on the list, ranked her favorites, and noted what she liked and disliked about each shampoo.
  • We ordered and paid for these products — For our best shampoos for dry dog skin, we ordered the top products. None of the products in this list were gifted or sponsored. We used our own resources to purchase and test these shampoos.
  • We sent them off with our product researcher to test in the field — Sara Ondrako, betterpet’s product review expert, received each shampoo and put them to the test with a professional groomer, then evaluated how effective the shampoos were. Ondrako noted how well the shampoos lathered, whether they were easy to apply, and how well they rinsed away, plus what the dog coat looked and felt afterward.

How we picked

Dog wearing a towel

Scrub-a-dub-dub, here’s our pup post-tub.

There are a lot of dog shampoos out there that claim to work for dry skin. We started with a deep dive into online research to find the most popular dog shampoos for dry skin. We opted for shampoos with minimal additives, especially perfumes that can irritate the skin. Once we created a shortlist, we had Dr. Irish review the products. Then, she ranked her top picks based on ingredients and safety. We ordered the top shampoos on our list following our vet’s input, then sent these shampoos off to Ondrako for testing. She chose the best dog shampoo for dry skin, based on our review criteria including ingredients, scent, application, effectiveness, and packaging.

Not all of our top picks made the final cut after the expert reviews. Sometimes, once we review a product, we decide that we don’t want to recommend it to pet parents. Our honorable mention, Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, ultimately didn’t make the list. Read on to find out why.

At first glance

On paper, here’s a glance at how the products stack up against each other. While shopping, you might find some shampoos for a low price, but you should pay close attention to the volume. Our top value pick wasn’t the cheapest total, but it did have the best price per ounce. But when it comes to your pet, the price and volume are minor factors. Our vet’s input and expert review helped shed light on other important factors, like whether the ingredients were natural or how well each shampoo lathered and rinsed out.

Shampoos ranked according to price per ounce, from lowest to highest

Product Price* Amount Price per ounce
Rocco and Roxie Sensitive Dog Shampoo $16.97 32 ounces $0.53
Natural Dog Company Sensitive Skin Shampoo $16.95 12 ounces $1.41
Natural Dog Company Itchy Dog Shampoo $17.95 12 ounces $1.49
Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo $25.79 16 ounces $1.61
Burt’s Bees All Natural Oatmeal Shampoo $6.94 4 ounces $1.74

*Price on Amazon or Chewy at the time of our review

How we tested these products

Prices are a top factor in whether people buy a product, but for something like shampoo that you apply to your dog’s skin, you also want to be sure the product is safe. You might also want to know how it smells — will the scent bother you and your dog’s noses hours after bathtime? Is the shampoo hard to rinse out, therefore leaving residue on the coat and making your dog’s itchiness worse? We collaborated with our product review expert, a professional groomer, and a veterinarian to determine the most important criteria.

  • Smell. A pleasant scent is more appealing to your nose than something weird- or medicinal-smelling. But on the flip side, you don’t want something overpowering, even if it smells nice because this can irritate you and your dog’s nose after a while.
  • Ingredients. We looked for natural ingredients, and in particular, we avoided artificial fragrances and other harmful or concerning ingredients, such as essential oils. Many products contain small amounts of essential oils, and safety is unknown. Some oils, like tea tree oil, are toxic to dogs.
  • Application. Bath time is rarely fun for humans and their pets. Dogs might feel squirmy or nervous, and you don’t want to spend extra time trying to apply shampoo. Our product review expert and a groomer tested these shampoos on multiple dogs to see how they applied. They noted how each shampoo spread on the coat, how much it lathered up, and how easily it rinsed away.
  • Effectiveness. Of course, you want to know if the shampoo actually leaves the dog’s skin clean and whether it helps relieve dry, itchy skin. We tested each shampoo to see if it cleans a dog’s coat and skin and if it soothes or further irritates dry skin.
  • Packaging. Ordering liquid products like shampoo online can be daunting. What if it leaks out on its way to your door? We made sure each shampoo came tightly sealed and leak-free.

Honorable mention 

We came across one particular shampoo that’s widely recommended on the internet. It sells a lot of bottles, but after we reviewed it, we decided not to include it on our list of the best dog shampoos for dry skin. We think pet parents should know why.

  • Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo. For dogs with allergies and/or dry, itchy skin, pet owners should use shampoos with as few additives as possible. This oatmeal and aloe shampoo contained preservatives as well as ingredients added for fragrance, and that’s why we decided to remove this shampoo from our list. In our product testing, our expert reviewer also noted that our dog’s skin was flaky the day after bathing with this shampoo.

What else should pet parents consider?

Does your dog need a shampoo for their itchy skin?

Baths, with the right shampoo, can help improve a dog’s skin and coat condition, which can soothe itchiness. But, depending on the cause, a bath — even with the right shampoo — may not cure your dog’s itchiness. These shampoos simply help treat the symptoms but don’t make the cause go away. You may want to talk to your vet to get to the root of the problem. Your dog may have allergies or a health condition leading to itchy or irritated skin. But if your dog does have itchy skin, it’s important to choose a shampoo that won’t further irritate their skin.

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. Pups with 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.

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 the skin.
  • 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. Salicylic acid is often found in medicated shampoos in a class called “keratolytics.”

👉  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. Added fragrance can cause unnecessary irritation to a dog’s skin. If a shampoos’ scent comes from a natural source, chances are it’ll be on the packaging.
  • Artificial colors. Brightly colored shampoos could contain unnatural and potentially dangerous dyes.
  • MEA/Cocamide DEA. This liquid is derived from coconut, but it’s chemically altered and added to some pet products. Pet parents should avoid this ingredient because it can cause cancer.
  • Mineral oil. There are studies that mineral oil could potentially be toxic to dogs.
  • Parabens. These preservatives may potentially interfere with hormones and cause other harmful effects.
  • Tea tree oil. Our team of vets recommends avoiding formulas with tea tree oil because, if ingested or absorbed into the skin, it can be toxic to dogs.

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. Hyperkeratosis is 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. It’s 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Too much bathing. Even when using an itch-soothing shampoo, overbathing your dog can strip the natural oils in their skin, create a pH imbalance, and cause or worsen dry skin. Your dog’s bathing schedule will depend on their individual needs, so talk to your vet to determine how often to wash your pup.
  • 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, can cause an array of symptoms like dandruff 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.

How to prevent dry, irritated skin in dogs

Follow these seven tips to help prevent your pup from getting itchy, flaky skin.

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 help prevent dirt and debris buildup.

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-3s are known to improve shine in dog coats.

Schedule regular veterinary checkups — It’s important to maintain a vet-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) to be able to monitor your dog’s overall health. Pet parents should take their dog to the vet at least once a year. Puppies and senior dogs may need more frequent visits.

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 skin folds and wrinkles clean — This is especially important in breeds with skin folds, like American bulldogs or pugs.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best shampoo for dogs with itchy skin?

According to our research, vet reviews, and expert product reviews, Natural Dog Company Sensitive Skin Dog Shampoo is our top pick. This shampoo is easy to apply, lathers well but not too much, and rinses away, leaving a clean, residue-free coat. It has a pleasant lavender scent and doesn’t cause further irritation for dry skin.

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 advised. 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.

How can I clean my dog’s itchy skin?

Itchy skin can become further irritated by preservatives, added fragrances, or other harmful ingredients in dog shampoos. Opt for a shampoo made with natural ingredients instead to prevent drying out the skin more or leaving behind a residue.

What do vets recommend for dry skin on dogs?

Supplementing your dog’s diet with fish oil or probiotics may improve your dog’s coat and skin, although more studies are needed on the subject. It’s also recommended to keep up with monthly flea preventatives.

How do you moisturize a dog’s skin?

Dietary supplements can help prevent negative skin conditions. Skin balms can also be used on your dog’s dry skin, especially on their nose and paw pads.