Washing your dog is already an event. If your pup has sensitive, dry skin, she’s only going to hate it more. With the right shampoo, you can keep your dog clean without irritating dry skin or exacerbating itchiness. We tapped an all-star veterinarian to help us understand the best dog shampoo for dry skin.
9 Best Dog Shampoos for Dry Skin, According to a Vet
What Ingredients Should I Look for in a Hydrating Dog Shampoo?
After 14 years of veterinary practice, Dr. Lisa knows which ingredients work for dog skin and which work against it. She recommends finding options with super moisturizers, like coconut oil, sweet almond oil and sunflower oil. Oatmeal is another ingredient in many skin-soothing dog shampoo formulas, as it's a gentle cleanser with anti-inflammatory properties. For very sensitive or allergy-prone skin, make sure your dog shampoo is hypoallergenic.
Dr. Lisa launched her own line of luxury doggy skin and coat care because she wanted to make sure her clients and dogs at home were bathing in the best. DOG by Dr. Lisa Wash is vegan, eco-friendly and free of nasty ingredients like sulfates, parabens, preservatives or artificial fragrances. These irritants can exacerbate existing skin issues or quickly dry out your pup’s skin. Instead, Dr. Lisa uses an all-natural formula that includes coconut, jojoba seed and sweet almond oils, plus chamomile. (Obviously it’s on our list! You can read more about it below.)
What Else Can I Do to Hydrate My Dog’s Skin?
Dr. Lisa is a huge fan of leave-in conditioners, which can be used any time your pup gets wet. This includes post-bath time or even after a swim. Regularly applying leave-in conditioner can work wonders for dry skin (not to mention leave coats nice and shiny). Brushing regularly can also help spread your dog’s natural skin oils throughout her body.
One thing you don’t want to do is bathe your dog too often. “Only wash your dog every four to six weeks unless your vet has prescribed otherwise,” Dr. Lisa says. (Of course, if your dog rolls in mud, please give her a bath.) But aside from necessary scrubbings, monthly bath time should suffice.
Finally, if you notice constant itching or licking, red, flaky or dry skin that won’t budge, talk to your vet. It’s possible your dog suffers from allergies and needs a different solution than new shampoo.
Always make sure you check the ingredients list on grooming products! And choose a shampoo designed for your dog’s life stage. Puppies require even gentler dog shampoo formulas (and actually shouldn’t get baths until they’re around eight weeks old).
The Best Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin at a Glance
- Best Overall: Public Goods Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Shampoo
- Best for Allergies: Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo
- Best 2-in-1: Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash
- Best Splurge: DOG Wash by Dr. Lisa Wash
- Most Fun: Friday's Dog Oater Coater
- Most Eco-Friendly: WashBar Manuka WashBar for Dogs
- Best Medicated: Vet's Best Oatmeal Medicated Dog Shampoo
- Best on a Budget: Burt's Bees Itch-Soothing Dog Shampoo
- Best for Multi-Dog Households: Wahl Oatmeal Shampoo Concentrate
Public Goods is all about sustainability. Its dog shampoo is no exception, as evidenced by the plant-based, vegan-friendly formula featuring colloidal oatmeal, aloe leaf and coconut oil. It gently cleans and deodorizes without stripping healthy oils (you won’t find phthalates, parabens or sulfates in here). Users say it leaves their pets’ coats soft and smelling delish: “This shampoo smells amazing and the good scent lasts at least six days. It lathers up nicely and I am so impressed with how long the good smell lasts on both my good boys!”
This hypoallergenic formula is the top recommended shampoo by U.S. veterinarians for dogs with allergies that you can get without a prescription. It balances the pH of your dog’s skin and soothes existing irritation by strengthening the actual skin barrier thanks to Ophytrium, a natural, plant-based ingredient. No soaps! No sulfates! None of the icky stuff. The directions say you should leave it on your pup for ten minutes to let it do its work, then rinse with cool water. One reviewer noted it doesn’t lather as much as you might think you need. “The trick for us was making sure our guy was soaked to the skin and contact was being made. We used seven pumps on his 50-pound body. His fur is long in areas and can tangle, but this product left it silky and easy to comb out once he was dry.”
This shampoo and conditioner combo formula by Pro Pet Works checks off every box. Not only does it contain almond oil, oatmeal and aloe vera, it is hypoallergenic and all organic. On top of that, Vitamins A, E, D and B12 can help boost coat luster and decrease shedding. There are no soaps, parabens or sulfates in this shampoo and conditioner. Its antimicrobial and antifungal properties will give your dog that brand new, super clean feeling. (Bonus: If your cat needs a bath, this stuff works on felines too.)
As promised, here’s Dr. Lisa’s very own luxury line. Not only is it good for dogs (coconut, sweet almond and jojoba seed oils), it’s good for the environment. Plant-based and 100 percent biodegradable, it even comes in a recyclable container (and you can buy refills instead of new bottles). We recommend pairing it with Dr. Lisa’s leave-in conditioner to go the extra mile.
Celebrity hair stylist David Babaii has worked with Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson, so yeah, he knows hair. Babaii helped launch Friday’s Dog, a collection of dog grooming products developed with science and a big thumbs up from veterinarians. The pH balanced formula of Oater Coater, in particular, tackles dry, itchy skin in the gentlest way. Oatmeal moisturizes, while camelina oil, moringa oil and marshmallow root decrease inflammation. In lieu of harsh chemicals, Oater Coater contains green tea and baking soda.
Bar shampoos are all the rage, so why not get your dog in on the fun? The ManukaBar comes in a compostable box and WashBar claims it can replace 15 fl.oz. of liquid shampoo. The bar is formulated especially for dry, sensitive dog skin. Manuka oil is the star ingredient, which the company sources from a supplier in New Zealand. The oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Plus, the bar is packed full of kanuka oil, neem oil, lemon myrtle, palm oil and coconut oil. ManukaBar is also safe for cats! One reviewer said their pup’s red, irritated skin “was normal after two uses and the itching stopped right away.” While results vary depending on the dog, this bodes well.
Vet’s Best is formulated by veterinarians, so you know you’re getting a solid product. Colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera soothe and hydrate skin. Tea tree oil, Vitamin B5 and salicylic acid helps to reduce dandruff and tighten pores. Vet’s Best makes a leave-in conditioner spray to compliment this shampoo, and neither product interferes with topical flea or tick medications.
Best on a Budget
The decadent combination of avocado oil, honey and an affordable price point makes this shampoo a stellar choice. Burt’s Bees' gentle formula cleanses without stripping oils or disrupting the pH balance of your dog’s skin. Colloidal oatmeal and honeysuckle extract soothes irritation. Though the formula contains no sulfates or added colors, some users complained it didn’t lather as much as they would have liked.
Grab a concentrated formula if you’ve got a few dogs who need regular baths. This product by Wahl is excellent and the company claims you can get 70 percent more baths out of it than a regular bottle of dog shampoo. Not only is it safe for dogs with allergies, but it also creates a thick lather that rinses easily. The ingredient list is ideal—oatmeal, coconut, lime, aloe, lemon verbena—and many reviewers love the scent this combo produces. Wahl doesn’t use alcohol or parabens in this shampoo and it’s pH-balanced to ensure an itch-free dog.
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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance writer and journalist. Her work has appeared on PureWow, Reductress and Culture Trip. More often than not, Sarah covers pets, dogs, cats and anything related to wildlife. She is currently working towards her master's in journalism at NYU.