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Wavy, curly, silky, short, double, dense, wooly, corded – dog coats are definitely not all the same. There’s a wide variation from breed to breed and among individual dogs. Not all dog shampoos are good for every dog, but how do you choose which is the best for your pet?

Finding a shampoo that is tailored to your dog’s coat type will enhance the grooming process, maintain the beauty of the fur, and contribute to your dog’s overall health. You just need to know what to look for.

When Should You Shampoo Your Dog?

Dog owners know that dogs don’t mind being smelly and dirty. In fact, many dogs love to rolling around in stinky things, like brush, mud puddles, and dirt, making a deep clean necessary.

Regularly bathing your dog removes dead hair and skin cells, reduces shedding, and helps keep your dog’s skin and coat free of dirt and allergens that can irritate and cause itching and infections.

Aside from being a necessary part of grooming, bathing your dog can be a bonding and trust-building experience. The right shampoo, if it feels refreshing, gentle, and is easy to rinse out of the coat, will help make the bathing process a positive experience.

Why Different Dogs Need Different Shampoos

Of course, different dogs require different bathing regimens. Single-coated dogs, such as Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and Boxers, may not require baths as frequently as other breeds with thicker coats. But when they do, a shampoo that is gentle on their skin and coat while repelling dust and dirt is the best choice.

Double-coated dogs, for example Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, and German Shepherd Dogs, have a shorter undercoat and a dense, longer outer coat. They require a shampoo that penetrates through to the undercoat and skin.

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What to Look for in Dog Shampoos

Selecting the right dog shampoo for your dog can depend on many different factors. But no matter what type of coat your dog has, you should always look for naturally-derived ingredients. Some common ones in dog shampoo include:

  • Aloe vera: Both antiseptic and moisturizing, aloe is a popular ingredient that can aid in cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting against future irritations.
  • Vitamin E: Also moisturizing, vitamin E can nourish skin and detangle coats.
  • Vitamin B: Common in oats or oatmeal, vitamin B penetrates deeply to deliver moisture.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil cleanses and moisturizes skin and coats.
  • Charcoal: This can be a powerful and natural cleansing agent for the skin.

Choose soap-free options that soothe and hydrate rather then drying out skin and coat. Use “made in USA” products for quality of manufacturing and ingredients.

Don’t use human shampoo on your dog: the pH level won’t be right, and it can cause skin irritation. Artificial fragrances can be tempting, but try to avoid them. They are usually derived from chemicals that can cause allergic reactions. You should also stay away from dog shampoos that include paraben and dyes. Both can cause serious health problems such as skin irritation and certain cancers.

Types of Dog Shampoos

There are many different types of dog shampoos, so try to find the one that’s specific for your dog. If you’re not sure which dog shampoo would be best for your dog, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll also be able to help you leverage any health concerns that your dog may have in order to choose the best shampoo for your dog.

Medicated Dog Shampoo

Vets may recommend medicated dog shampoo to your dog for a variety of reasons. Common medicated shampoos include anti-itch, anti-fungal, hot spot relief, antibacterial, antiseptic, hypoallergenic, and allergy relief dog shampoos.

Dry Dog Shampoo

Washing your dog completely with water isn’t always an option. Dry dog shampoo can be good fix when your dog needs to freshen up between baths. Dog dry shampoo doesn’t require water,

Dog Flea and Tick Shampoo

Flea and tick season is something that dog owners need to prepare for, in some places year-round. Dog flea and tick shampoo is can not only help prevent fleas and ticks, but it can also be recommended for dogs that have fleas.

If your dog is on topical flea and tick treatment, you’ll want to bathe them with a specific soap that doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the flea-and-tick preventative. This could mean a soap-free dog shampoo, or a specific flea and tick shampoo that was made with this in mind.

Poodle standing wet in the bathtub.
©katrinnks -

Puppy Shampoo

Puppies are still growing into themselves, so it’s good to use puppy shampoo specifically when you’re washing them. Puppy shampoo will help nourish and hydrate puppy’s sensitive skin.

Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

Dogs with dry or sensitive skin need to get clean too! Dog shampoo for sensitive skin is specifically made for these dogs. Sensitive skin shampoos wash your dog without stripping moisture or worsening existing skin conditions. Sensitive skin can happen in dogs for many reasons, so talk to your vet about which kind of shampoo would be best for your dog’s specific needs.

Dog Shampoo for Shedding

If your dog is a breed that frequently sheds, you may consider dog shampoos for shedding. While these shampoos don’t stop your dog from shedding, they can help reduce how much your dog sheds. Many of these shampoos contain ingredients that are known to reduce excess shedding, like omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids.

Skunk Shampoo for Dogs

When your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, you’ll likely want to bathe them immediately to get rid of the stench. Skunk shampoo for dogs can help get the smell off of their coat, while giving them a good thorough bath at the same time.

If you can avoid it, don’t bring your do in the house if they’ve been sprayed by a skunk. As long as the skunk oil is on your dog’s coat, the smell will linger everywhere. Homemade dog shampoos can help mask the skunk odor, but they don’t eliminate it like skunk shampoos do. Just make sure that you’re extremely careful using shampoos with potent formulas around your dog’s eyes.

Scented Dog Shampoo

While artificial fragrances should be avoided in dog shampoos, there are safe scented dog shampoos that can leave your dog smelling fresh and clean after their bath. After all, you don’t want that stinky smell or the wet dog smell to linger after they’re clean. Look for natural scents like kiwi or coconut.

Some shampoos that target different things, like sensitive skin, also have pleasant scent due to their ingredients. Some plant-derived dog shampoos smell fresh and clean because of the ingredients. Oatmeal in dog shampoo is a common ingredient for sensitive skin. Dog shampoos for sensitive skin will often have a lingering, yummy oatmeal smell as a result.

french bulldog takes a bath
©kellermargo -

Tips for Enjoying Bath Time

Once you find the shampoo that works best for your dog, you can teach your dog to enjoy the attention and time in the bath. Professional groomers stress the importance of getting your dog accustomed to bath time. First, make sure you’re relaxed and calm. If you’re bathing your puppy, let them get used to standing in an empty tub first, reward them with praise or treats.

When you’re ready to shampoo your dog, take them for a walk first to get some of the energy out. You’re going to get wet, so dress accordingly. Brush your dog before shampooing to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris. Before getting your dog wet, check the water temperature to be sure it’s slightly warm but never hot.

Get started by using a soft stream of water to wet your dog’s coat thoroughly. Once your dog is wet down to their skin, lather in the shampoo. Make sure to avoid getting shampoo in the dog’s eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Adding a nice massage over the suds will help your dog stay relaxed, as well as make sure the shampoo is applied evenly throughout their coat.

Once that’s done, rinse the shampoo out with warm water. Some of the suds can be hard to get out, so even when you think you’ve rinsed out all of the suds, rinse again.

To dry your dog, use a few thick, absorbent towels and blot out, not rub, as much of the water as you can. When you take your clean dog out of the tub, give them some treats, and stand back – because all dogs will shake off vigorously, and many wet dogs get the zoomies.

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: How to Clean and Care for Your Dogs Paws
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