By Sassafras Lowrey CPDT-KA

All dogs regardless of their length of fur need to be bathed on a regular basis. Even if you take your dog to be professionally groomed, you’ll want to have dog shampoo on hand at home for those times when your dog needs a bath between appointments. When you go to a pet supply store or search online, there are a lot of different shampoos to choose from and it can be hard to know which shampoo is going to be best. When choosing a shampoo for your dog there are a variety of considerations to keep in mind.

Products For Dogs

When selecting a shampoo for your dog it’s very important to only use shampoos that are specifically made for use on dogs. Although the shampoo in your shower might keep your hair silky smooth won’t have the same effect on dogs.  The shampoos that are designed for people have different ingredients and pH levels than dogs need. People shampoo can be harmful to your dog’s skin and coat. Using human shampoo on dogs can potentially lead to skin infections, dry skin, and discomfort so should always be avoided.


When choosing a shampoo for your dog, make sure to look for shampoos that are soap-free. Soap sounds like it would get your dog clean, but it will be harmful to your dog’s fur and skin. Soaps can dry your dog out, and similarly, parabens and sulfates – which make shampoo bubbly – can dry and irritate a dog’s fur and skin. Shampoos made without soap, sulfates, and parabens will be gentler on your dog’s skin and help moisturize to smooth and hydrate your dog’s coat and skin. 

Skin Conditions

If you know that your dog has a history of allergies, dry skin, or any other skin irritations you’ll need to be careful about what shampoo you select for your dog. If your dog has a history of skin conditions, you’ll want to talk with your veterinarian to discuss the best sort of shampoo. Depending on your dog’s skin needs your dog’s veterinarian may recommend using a special medicated or prescription shampoo. Alternatively, your veteran may recommend a very gentle and soothing shampoo like one made with oatmeal. 

Age Considerations

If you have a young puppy at home, you’ll want to select a shampoo designed specifically for puppies. Most dog shampoos will list information about what ages of dogs or puppies the shampoo is safe to be used on. All dog shampoo should be gentle, but shampoo for puppies is developed specifically to be nourishing and gentle on a puppy’s sensitive skin and fur. If you have a young puppy, make sure to read the instructions for any shampoos you’re interested in to make sure they are appropriate for your age of puppy. 

Flea Shampoo

If you’ve recently adopted a dog or are dealing with flea issues at home, you may need to utilize a flea shampoo. Flea shampoo kills fleas and other pests that are on your dog’s skin or fur. Flea shampoos kill fleas on contact, making them ideal for dogs who are infested. Flea shampoos can also prevent flea eggs from growing and maturing into fleas. If your dog or puppy is struggling with fleas in addition to treating your home and making sure they are on regular preventatives a flea bath can help, make dogs immediately make dogs more comfortable. While flea shampoo can provide relief for dogs now it is not a replacement for dogs getting monthly preventatives. 

Deodorizing Shampoos

If you have a dog who likes to get dirty you probably spend a lot of time bathing your dog. Many dogs enjoy rolling in dead or stinky things and in that case, you’ll want to have a deodorizing shampoo on hand. Unlike soap, deodorizing shampoos are pH balanced to be gentle on your dog’s skin and coat. While providing a deep clean, deodorizing shampoos will help keep your dog’s skin and coat properly moisturized.  These shampoos remove dirt, and odor-causing bacteria to leave your dog smelling fresh and clean.  Some deodorizing shampoos are made for general use at bath time, while others are made for more unusual stinky encounters such as if your dog is sprayed by a skunk. Deodorizing shampoos are the strongest shampoos for removing dirt, extra oil, and smells. getting stinky odors off your dog.

Beware Fragrances

We want our dogs to smell fresh and clean after a bath, but some dogs, especially those with sensitive skin will struggle if bathed using shampoos that are heavily fragranced. Try to look for shampoos that utilize natural ingredients and be cautious with highly fragranced shampoos. Not only can heavy fragrance be irritating to a dog’s skin, but it can also be unpleasant to dogs on a sensory level. This can lead to dogs trying to get the shampoo scent off them, which can lead to dogs seeking out rolling in dirt, dead things, and anything smelly they can find on walks or in the yard to try to remove what to them is an unpleasant smell. Shampoo should be cleaning your dog, not just masking dirt with a strong perfume. 

Get Support

If you aren’t sure what shampoos will be for your dog it’s always a good idea to discuss options with your dog’s breeder, your dog’s veterinarian, or an experienced groomer. These experts will be able to help give you advice on what products will work best for your dog’s breed, skin, coat, and fur type. You can also purchase small sizes of dog different shampoos and try them when you bathe your dog until you find a shampoo that works best for your dog. Keep track of how you like each shampoo, and specifically how their skin and coat look and feel after a bath.