Dogs 101: Dog Shampoo

He doesnt want to shower

(Picture Credit: sestovic/Getty Images)

Even dogs who feel that a bath is cruel and unusual punishment have to get one once in a while. While some dogs with short coats can get away with just water, most dogs need shampoo.

Why do dogs need their own kind of shampoo? Why can’t they just use whatever you use on yourself? Well, human shampoos can actually harm dogs’ coats. Dog shampoo manufacturers say their products are gentle enough to prevent stripping the natural oils in a dog’s coat but strong enough to get out the dirt.

And here’s an item that may not make you feel very good about your own beauty regimen: Some of the shampoos designed for human hair may irritate your dog’s skin because they can contain harsher detergents. So use shampoos labeled specifically for dogs, or a gentle human baby shampoo that your veterinarian recommends.

Here’s what you should know about dog shampoo.

The Best Shampoo Is One That Suits Your Needs

There are tons of different kinds of dog shampoos, just like there are different kinds of human shampoos. The best way to figure out which one your dog needs is to ask your veterinarian or professional groomer for advice.

Some dog shampoos are designed for certain types of coats, and some are specifically for puppies. There are lots of things to consider!

Here are a few of the kinds of dog shampoo you might need to look for:

  • No more tears: Just as we have baby shampoos, there are very gentle puppy shampoos available.
  • Brightening/whitening: These are for dogs who are supposed to be sparkling white after a bath, as opposed to the beige mess they were beforehand.
  • Waterless or rinse-free: Using a dry shampoo or powder will minimally clean up the dirt, but they’re intended only for quick fixes. Your dog won’t get really clean, and a few days later the coat can feel even dirtier or stickier than before you used it.
  • Deodorizing: These shampoos are an excellent idea for a dog who just rolled in a dead rodent or fresh poop. Keep in mind, deodorizing shampoos may not always be powerful enough to alleviate “eau de skunk.”
  • Stamping out skunk: Technically this isn’t shampoo, but it’s more effective on skunk stink than deodorizing shampoo or that useless tomato-based mixture. Mix 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. Mix and apply immediately, then rinse thoroughly.

Medicated Shampoos For Special Conditions



Medicated shampoos can help you deal with certain problems–like helping to keep away fleas, ease itching, and heal mange. They’re much harder to use, though, for the simple fact that, in order to be at all effective, most have to remain on your dog for ten minutes before rinsing.

That’s ten solid minutes on a soaking wet, icky-smelling, annoyed canine who thinks 30 seconds is a long time–so cover the bathroom floor with plenty of towels before you begin the process.

Here are a few types of medicated shampoos for dogs:

  • Flea and tick: These shampoos help keep the parasites at bay. Some are also effective against lice.
  • Hypoallergenic: Look for one of these shampoos if you have dogs with allergies or sensitivity to fragrances or other ingredients in regular shampoos.
  • Anti-itch: These shampoos contain anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, such as hydrocortisone or lidocaine. You can purchase most of them over the counter.
  • Prescription: For some conditions, such as mange, your veterinarian may prescribe medicated shampoo as part of the treatment.

What kind of shampoo do you use for your dog? Does your pooch hate baths or love them? Let us know in the comments below!