How to choose the right dog shampoo

Human shampoos are too harsh for dogs so you must pick among a bewildering away of dog shampoos to properly bathe your pet.


The first thing to know about selecting a shampoo for your dog is to select a shampoo formulated especially for a dog.  The pH level of a dogÕs skin differs from that of humans and human shampoos are too harsh for a dog.  In a pinch, Palmolive or Ivory dishwashing detergent can be used since they are very mild and contain no added grease-cutters.
    So to properly bathe your dog you will need a dog shampoo.  But the choices available are so overwhelming picking the right shampoo for your dog can be as bewildering as searching for lost keys in a field of clover...

I just want a good basic dog shampoo.  What should I look for?

A conditioning shampoo works like all-in-one shampoos for people, eliminating the need for an additional step of conditioning.  Following a bath with a conditioning shampoo, the dogÕs coat should be especially receptive to a brush or comb.

My dogÕs skin is dry.  Which type of shampoo should I use?
    A protein shampoo is the best remedy for dry skin.  If the dog is itching more than usual, an oatmeal-based shampoo will provide a soothing bath and reduce skin irritation.

My dog always seems to have dandruff.  Is there anything I can use to stop the flaking?
    No dog shampoos are formulated to stop dandruff but any good deep-cleansing bath will help the condition.  Similarly, no dog shampoo can control shedding but a bath will help.

IÕve heard of medicated dog shampoos; what do they do?
    Medicated shampoos are designed to help with specific skin problems on the dog and these should not be used without the recommendation of a veterinarian.

I just got a new puppy.  Are there special shampoos for puppies?
    Yes, a puppy shampoo or a mild hypoallergenic shampoo should be used on a young dog until about six months of age.  Bathing a young dog as soon as possible will help it get used to the cleaning process and make future bath days less of a chore.

My dog has especially sensitive skin; what should I use to clean her?
    Again, gentle hypoallergenic shampoo is a choice.  These mild cleaners are usually free from additives such as perfumes and dyes.

My dog has fleas; how can I get rid of them?
    The wide array of flea shampoos alone can take the better part of an afternoon at the pet shop to decipher.  A good rule of thumb is to use a shampoo with as little insecticide as possible to combat the infestation.  A good gentle flea and tick shampoo is one that contains a natural insecticide called pyrethrin, which is derived from crushed chrysanthemum flowers.  Pyrethrin is biodegradable in natural ultraviolet light so it will likely not stay on the dogÕs coat long enough for the pet to lick at it and ingest poison.  Most flea and tick shampoos have no residual value meaning they will kill the parasites on the dog but will not prevent future invaders from appearing.  Some advanced flea and tick shampoos do protect the dog for up to a week against new infestations.

I have a white dog.  Is there a shampoo I could use to enhance her coat?
    Bluing shampoos contain whitening agents that brighten a light-colored dog and remove yellow oxidation and dirt stains.  These shampoos are often popular with show dogs but work well with everyday pets as well.  There are also darkening shampoos that will perk up the shine of a dark-colored animal and eliminate yellow and gray oxidation on the coat.

IÕve heard about Òall naturalÓ dog shampoos; what are they?
    Herbal dog shampoos can feature a dizzying array of ÒnaturalÓ ingredients:  pennyroyal, melaleuca tea tree oil, eucalyptus, aloe, jojoba, avocado, cloves, papaya, watermelon seed, coconut, cedar extract and so on.  Usually, these ingredients are added to a shampoo to deal with a specific condition; check the label on the bottle to see what these exotic ingredients are designed to accomplish.

What is coal tar shampoo?
    Coal tar shampoos can provide relief from insect bites and itchy skin and are used to help rebuild a dogÕs damaged coat.

My dog got sprayed by a skunk.  Is there any shampoo I can use to help him?
    No shampoo by itself can defeat the wrath of an angry skunk, especially if the spray has been allowed to dry on the dogÕs coat.  Special deodorizing shampoos are available that can alleviate the problem somewhat.

What are ÒdryÓ shampoos?  Can I skip the whole bath process altogether?
    Dry dog shampoos, which can actually be a liquid as well as a powder, were created for groomers to redo a small portion of an already washed coat.  They werenÕt designed to clean an entire dog.

Should I use a conditioner after the shampoo?
    A conditioner can make it easier to detangle and brush out a long-haired dog after a bath.  Conditioners arenÕt necessary for breeds with shorter coats and it is possible to select a dog shampoo with conditioners included.

    There you have it, a short primer on selecting a dog shampoo.  There is no more reason to ever have a smelly dog again.