Dog ShampooYou need to bathe your dog regularly for your dog’s health, using good canine shampoo and conditioning products.

The best dog shampoo for one dog may not be the best dog shampoo for another one because dogs have very sensitive skin.

Similarly, how often you should bathe your dog depends on the individual dog.

Bathing too often can strip the healthy oils from the dog’s skin and lead to dry hair and itchy skin, just as it does for humans.

In general, monthly bathing is a good rule of thumb for most dogs. Specialized breeds, such as hairless breeds like the Chinese crested or the Mexican hairless need more frequent bathing, skin moisturizers, and sunscreens.

For some dogs, more frequent bathing in the summer may be necessary if your dog likes to roll in mud or something dead or swim in saltwater or pond water, or the dog just stinks!

In the winter, however, you can bathe the dog less often.

Regular bathing will help manage your dog’s:

  • Skin conditions

  • Allergies

  • Parasite control

  • Hair

  • Odor

It may even help prevent serious bacterial infections from gaining a foothold. Note also that bathing will help you examine the dog’s condition, especially its skin, feet, ears, and other parts of the body that are easier to see when they are wet.

Common Skin Diseases in Dogs

Signs of a skin condition include itching, red patches or bumps on the skin, or hair loss. Bathing may help, or it may exacerbate the condition. If you notice a skin problem on your dog, bathing may be a good way to treat it. If the problem is severe, however, have your vet diagnose it first and recommend an appropriate hygiene treatment. If bathing is part of the treatment, ask your vet to recommend the best dog shampoo for it.

Bathing can prevent or help manage many common skin problems. Some of the most common skin diseases to watch out for include:

Allergic Dermatitis
This looks like a reddened, irritated patch of skin, with some hair loss associated. It indicates that your dog has developed an allergy to something in its environment. Other symptoms are multiple red patches on the skin, scratching and licking at the irritated areas, rash. Treatment includes removing the cause and bathing the dog with a medicated or hypoallergenic shampoo.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus, and most commonly appears on dogs less than one-year-old. Treat it with topical medication and bathing with anti-fungal shampoo.
Mange is caused by tiny mites. The symptoms are intense itching, redness, and hair loss, usually on ears, legs, and face.  The treatment depends on the type of mange and bathing with medicated shampoo.
Fleas and flea dirt can be seen upon close observation of the dog’s skin. Symptoms of fleas are intense scratching and licking, and hot spots on the dog’s skin. Treatment can be oral or topical, and the dog should be bathed with a flea and tick shampoo.  Fleas must be eliminated from the dog’s living environment or they will reinfest the dog and any other pets in the same household.
You can often feel a tick on your dog as you pet it. Upon inspecting your dog’s skin, ticks are usually easy to see with the naked eye. You should put your dog on a tick control regimen, which should include bathing with a flea and tick shampoo.
Dry Skin and Dandruff
Talk to your vet about your dog’s dry skin and dandruff to determine if it indicates a more serious condition. You can manage most cases of dry skin with appropriate bathing and skin care products designed for dogs.
Hot Spots
Hot spots are red, moist areas where the hair has fallen out, that feel hot to the touch. These usually occur on the head, chest, or hips. They result from a variety of causes including fleas and allergies.  You can usually treat hot spots by cleansing the skin and treating the underlying cause.

A Few Tips on Bathing Your Dog

First, before getting the dog wet, give it a good brushing. Brushing is a good before-the-bath practice unless your dog is a single-coated, long-haired dog such as an Afghan hound or a Maltese.  Spray these dogs with water or a conditioner before brushing them to avoid breakage. If the dog has a thick coat, you need to brush it to get the tangles and mats out before it gets wet. Brushing it will also help get rid of shedding hair that would otherwise end up in your tub. (In warm weather, you may want to bathe a heavy shedder outside to avoid that issue).

best dog shampoos

Next, be prepared to get very wet. Some dogs tolerate bathing well, while others may try to escape. Even a dog that is well-behaved in the bath cannot resist a good shake-off when it’s all over, which will splash water all over you. If your dog in one that tries to bolt, you may need someone to help you restrain it. Give the dog lots of treats and positive rewards through the entire process. (If you do not have a helper, you can tie the dog but never leave a tied dog alone. Also, you should never leave the dog alone in the bath.)

Use lukewarm water, not hot and not cold water (unless you are outside and the weather is warm). This is especially important for small dogs and senior dogs or any dog that tends to get cold easily. Keep the water pressure low to avoid bruising and limit the risk of pushing germs into the dog’s skin or orifices. Use a gentle spray setting to wash your dog from the back of its head and down its body. Do your best to avoid getting water in the dog’s face, mouth, or ears. Use a washcloth with warm water to wash its face.

It is important to use a shampoo and conditioner designed for dogs, not humans. Most canine bathing products are formulated for the dog’s hair and skin, which are different from that of humans. Human skin pH is very different from canine skin pH. Also, canine skin has many fewer layers than human skin. Consequently, human shampoos are just too harsh to use on dogs.

Make sure that you take the time to rinse the dog thoroughly because some dogs are prone to developing contact dermatitis or hot spots from shampoo residue. If you have a dog with a particular skin or coat condition, you are better off using products designed to treat that condition.

After the bath, be ready with big thirsty towels. Dry your dog as best as you can. The dog will want to shake off the water and roll on the floor or the ground. If the weather permits, take your dog for a walk to try to keep it from rolling. If your dog has an undercoat, like a golden retriever, it will take some time for it to dry. You can use a hair dryer if your dog will tolerate the noise, but be careful not to use high heat or burn the dog’s skin.

Best Shampoos and Conditioners

As mentioned earlier, you want to use products made for dogs. You have many choices from among excellent products on the market. If you are not sure what to use for your dog, you can consult your vet or your groomer if you have one. You do not need to buy products made with harsh synthetic chemicals that are tough on canine skin. Below is a review of a number of products that we really like.

Good All-Around


If your dog is healthy and has no special conditions, you can use a good basic shampoo and conditioner. Try best-seller Moosh Natural Dog Shampoo. It is one of the best dog shampoos available.  It is a soap-free organic shampoo that is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-itch.  It is made in the U.S.A. and formulated to promote healthy hair and skin. It has no sulfates, preservatives, or chemicals. Importantly, it is easy to rinse.  Its ingredients include shea butter, aloe vera, and neem oil to soothe and moisturize your dog’s skin and repel fleas and other pests, argon oil to give your dog’s hair a silky shine, bentonite clay to naturally draw grime away from the skin, vetiver to provide an antiseptic and a naturally fresh scent, nutmeg to soothe your dog’s skin, and rosemary to promote circulation. Organic shampoos do not strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin, so you do not need a conditioner to follow it.

One of the best dog shampoos for itching is Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Soothing Aloe by Nootie. This oatmeal and aloe pet shampoo will give your dog a soothing feeling while rejuvenating its skin and providing vital nutrients. It is especially great for Yorkies and poodles.  It is a non-medicated shampoo with no harsh chemicals.

If your dog needs a good conditioner, you will find best-selling Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner to be an excellent product. It gets rave reviews because it effectively detangles, enriches, and revives the dog’s coat, soothes its skin, and smells great for days afterward.

Dry Skin, Dandruff

Some dogs, dog breeds (Doberman pinschers), and senior dogs are prone to dry flaky skin and dandruff. Cold winter weather can also cause dry flaky canine skin. Note that dry scaly skin can also be a symptom of a serious condition or disease. Before treating it yourself by bathing your dog, have the dog checked by your vet for a diagnosis. If the dog’s condition is simply a genetic or temporary dry skin condition, you will have to determine the best bathing frequency by trial and error. Once a month bathing with a canine shampoo and conditioner formulated for dry skin may help manage the condition.

Certain ingredients will help re-hydrate and sooth the dog’s skin, such as oatmeal and tea tree oil. One of the best dog shampoos for dry skin is Bodhi Dog Oatmeal Shampoo with baking soda. It is a plant-based shampoo made with quality natural ingredients including oat proteins, aloe vera, coconut, vitamins A, D & E, and fruit extracts. Not only will it soothe and moisturize your dog’s skin, it is one of the best smelling dog shampoos. It has a nice apple aroma and leaves your dog’s hair feeling soft and clean. It is made in the USA and comes with a no questions asked, 100%  money-back guarantee. This shampoo is the best dog shampoo for dandruff, and it is also good for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies, which are conditions that frequently accompany dry skin.

If your dog’s skin still needs conditioning, a great leave-in conditioner is Warren London – Hydrating Butter For Dogs Skin & Coat. This conditioner releases moisturizing emollients every 2 hours for a 24 hour hydration.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skinned canines can feel itchy with flaky skin after bathing. Breeds that have a predisposition to sensitive skin include poodles, great danes, and many short-haired dogs. One of the best dog shampoos for sensitive skin is 5 in 1 Pet Wash by Charlie and Shmitty Pet Supplies. This uncomplicated shampoo has aloe, oatmeal, and mild citrus fragrance. It will help restore the natural pH levels of canine skin, making its coat healthy and shiny. These natural ingredients will condition, hydrate, and nurture your dog’s skin while gently deodorizing and eliminating odors.


Allergies are common in some breeds, such as American bulldogs and Labrador retrievers. A soothing shampoo can be helpful to dogs with allergic skin. You may have to try a few different shampoos to find the one that works best for your dog. Premium Pet Oatmeal Shampoo with baking soda and aloe vera by Pets Are Kids Too is great for allergy-plagued canines. It is a hypoallergenic, vet recommended formula designed for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin. It has no chemicals, no alcohol, no detergent, and no additives that can trigger allergies in your dog’s skin. It is entirely organic, and ten percent of the company’s profits from this shampoo is donated to help a pet with cancer.

If your dog has allergic reactions to those ingredients, another one of the best dog shampoos for allergic dogs is Four-Legger Dog Shampoo. It contains a hypoallergenic blend of saponified organic oils of coconut, olive, and jojoba, natural essential oil blend of rosemary and lemongrass, organic aloe vera, and rosemary extract. Lemongrass is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and antioxidant substance. If your dog is not allergic to lemongrass, this product may be useful in providing these health benefits to your dog that it cannot otherwise get due to its allergies.

Flea and tick control

Regular bathing of your dog will help control parasite infestation on the dog’s skin. These parasites are not just annoying, they can transmit serious diseases.  You need to get rid of fleas immediately. Check out the article for valuable information on getting rid of these pests. If you notice fleas on your dog, you have to be aggressive at getting control over the situation. Get a good flea and tick shampoo and bathe your dog. Luckily, several great non-prescription products are available. One of the best dog shampoos for fleas is Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo with Precor, a top seller which regularly gets only the best dog shampoo reviews.  This shampoo is very effective at killing fleas, ticks, flea eggs, flea larvae, and lice. It provides 28 days of control of pre-adult fleas. To help soothe the dog’s skin, the shampoo contains aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal.

For a natural chemical-free flea and tick shampoo, try Arava Flea & Tick Control Dog Shampoo. It is made with safe and natural botanical ingredients, including lemongrass, peppermint, cinnamon, thyme, clove, eastern red cedar, geranium, citronella, rosemary, castor, soybean and a variety of Dead Sea minerals. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.  Also, for every Arava product purchased, the company makes a direct donation to animal rights organizations.

Follow the shampooing with Lillian Ruff Dog Oatmeal Conditioner. It will provide relief to the itchy skin, and the lavender and coconut oils smell great and may help repel parasites naturally.

Odor control and healthy coat

Healthy, conditioned canine skin produces healthy shiny canine hair and less doggy odor. For beautiful results with minimal chemicals, try Paws & Pals Natural Dog-Shampoo and Conditioner. This best-selling, vegan-friendly shampoo is one of the best dog shampoos for odor and smell.  Its conditioner provides a premium coat and skin treatment that is made with the botanicals aloe, jojoba and coconut oils, oatmeal, shea butter, and rosemary.  It is extremely mild but very effective at conditioning canine skin.

For added conditioning and a wonderful aroma, use Isle of Dogs Everyday Silky Oatmeal Conditioner for Dogs. It is designed to help manage fine coats, reduce breakage and make the coat smooth and silky. Even more, your dog will smell so amazing.


If your dog spends much time outside, chances of an encounter with a skunk are good. Many people do not realize that the skunk spray can actually be dangerous to a dog if the dog is too close to the skunk spray. Skunk odor is difficult to eliminate and will follow your dog everywhere it goes for several days. You will need to bathe the dog, maybe several times even with a special deodorizing shampoo, but do it outside. If you bring the dog into your house, your house will smell like skunk for a long time. Even after bathing the dog, the bath water and the tub will smell like the skunk.

You need a special shampoo to eliminate the skunk odor from your dog. Try Skunk-Off Pet Shampoo. You will need to make sure the shampoo washes every nook and cranny of your dog’s body. The manufacturer, Thornell, recommends that you use about half the bottle per bath to remove the skunk odor. This shampoo comes in 8 ounces or one-gallon bottles. In case your dog managed to get into your house, and perhaps on you, before you could deodorize it, you will be happy to know that this shampoo is also safe to use on humans, clothing, and fabrics.

Labrador retrievers and sporting breeds with oily coats

Labrador retrievers and some sporting breeds that are bred for going into the water have oily coats.  The oily coat has a purpose. It helps them shed water and helps them retain body heat in cold water.  Bathing such a dog too often will strip the oils from its coat, causing the skin and hair to become dry and brittle. Some experts recommend bathing labs and dogs with similar coats no more than two or three times each year, except as needed to eliminate parasites or treat specific conditions. If you brush these dogs regularly, they will stay clean. If they get into something and get dirty or stinky, just wash the dirty areas.

When you do bathe your lab, try using hypoallergenic, vet-recommended Hylyt Pet Shampoo by DVM Pharmaceuticals, a registered trademark of Bayer. It is one of the best dog shampoos for labs.  It is soap-free and extremely mild with optimal pH balance.  Its natural moisturizers promote hydration of the dog’s skin and coat, while essential fatty acids nourish canine skin and help control flaking and scaling. If your dog is still itchy after using this product, finish with Hylyt Cream Rinse Conditioner. These products are also excellent for any dogs with allergies or sensitive skin.


Bathing a puppy is important not only to get the puppy clean and parasite free but also to teach it that baths are fun! Ideally, your puppy will learn to enjoy the bath, or at least to tolerate it and not try to bolt from the bath later in life. To help make the experience as pleasant as possible, use a shampoo that is made for puppies and will not burn its eyes or taste terrible.  One of the best dog shampoos for puppies BioSilk Therapy for Dogs Puppy Tearless Shampoo. It is made by the same company that makes BioSilk shampoo for humans. Formulated with silk and vitamins that help restore the moisture balance to your puppy’s coat, this shampoo is extra gentle and pH balanced for puppies. You can also use this on a dog that has extra sensitive skin or fine hair that tends to mat.