6 best dog shampoos for sensitive-skinned pups

Kelsey Chapman
Wednesday 04 November 2020 16:00
Home & Garden
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

All dog owners know no matter how cute those little furry friends may be, they sure can stink up the joint if they aren’t bathed and groomed properly. With so many dogs sensitive to the harsh chemicals and fragrances found in cheaper, outdated pet shampoo brands, where do we turn to find a gentle soap that will leave them fresh and shiny without irritating their tender skin?

We asked some experts and representatives for newer companies to recommend their favorite dog shampoos and even tested out a couple on our own pups. Below you’ll find a list of new favorites to grab in order to keep your pooch–and whatever they may touch in your home–odor-free without the irritants.

Make sure you give those pups a treat once they've behaved for bath time with one of these toys that will keep them happy and occupied, and keep the pet dander in your home down between bathing sessions with one of these great air purifiers. We also have a roundup of the best GPS tracking collars should you want to keep a close eye on your pets if they venture outside.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Shine Conditioning Shampoo

Of all the shampoos tested, this is the most heavily fragranced but in an absolutely divine way. The peppermint freshness is a joy to squeeze into your dog’s fur, and the soap easily lathers without becoming goopy or taking too long to rise–a must for my impatient trio of elder chihuahuas. Merlin, the oldest of the three, is particularly prone to accidents given his very limited standing capabilities (he’s comfortable, just arthritic and weak because of it), and each time we have to do a quick rinse, I reach for this first. His short brown coat has never felt softer thanks to a fantastic blend of Argan oil, chamomile, and coconut-based cleansers, and I don’t even think he minds bathing so much anymore now that he has something nice to sniff!

Arava Natural Medicated Dog Shampoo – Antibacterial Antifungal Anti Yeast Anti ITCH Dog Shampoo

Our next recommendation comes from Davor Bobek, the co-founder and co-owner of the blog World Dog Breeder. Davor suggests the Arava naturally medicated shampoo seen here, and tells us of his own experience with the product:

“This shampoo is great not only for sensitive skin but also for skin problems such as Ringworm scrapes or Dermatological Infections. We have personally tested this product on my 15-year-old Havanese and we are extremely pleased with the product.”

28 ingredients like dead sea minerals and jojoba oil help exfoliate and moisturize the dog’s skin, and plenty of reviews praise this as a “miracle” cure for breeds that can have problematic skin such as Amercian Bullies and Chihuahuas.

Pets Don't Stink 5PC Gift Set

For dedicated pet parents who want to be prepared for any type of sticky, stinky, or just downright sloppy situation, the Pets Don’t Stink 5PC gift set is an ideal choice.

I first had the chance to test out one of these products in particular when poor little Merlin had once again fallen into a small puddle of his own pee (he’s old, it happens!) and rushed him to the tub for a quick soap-and-rinse. The Stink-Buster Foam Bath was incredibly handy for this type of situation, as it pumps out generously and spreads easily without having to do too much manual lathering for an in-and-out casual bath that gets the job done.

My other favorite in this pack are the quickie wipes which are incredibly convenient for wiping off paws after walks, swiping excess food off messy little faces, and wiping off any other mess my gaggle of dogs acquires throughout the day. As with all the company’s other products, they are formulated with no harsh chemicals with natural fragrances and bio-degradable materials, so you’re making a responsible decision all around when you choose Pets Don’t Stink for all manner of pup products.

Update: The gift set tested above is currently out of stock, but we've linked to a similar trio of products that still includes the wonderful Stink-Buster Foam Bath, Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo, and a handy spray to de-stink your favorite four-legged buddy just as well.

Honeydew Pet Pleasant Lavender Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Colloidal oatmeal is a well-know soothing agent, and this shampoo combines that with gentle detergents and the relaxing scent of lavender for a luxurious, gentle, and skin-calming shampoo that will feel like a day at the spa for you and your dog.

“Absolutely THE best shampoo,” raves one happy user. They continue: “We have a Shih Tzu who has always had skin issues from allergies. We tried a variety of shampoos even some from the vet and this product is far better. Not only does it not irritate her skin it makes her coat soft and shiny and it smells wonderful.”

The formula is also tear-proof, so you can wash your pup’s face without worrying about any eye irritants.

Tropiclean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy & Kitten Shampoo

If you’re a mixed pet household with a puppy and kitten to worry about, this lovely smelling coconut option is amazing across the board. Formulated for young, tender babies whose tender skin hasn’t grown accustomed to the harsh world but still love to get messy, this shampoo is a favorite of owners and animals alike. One reviewer claims, “This shampoo smells so good and moisturizes my little guys skin. He went from fighting to get away from me on bath day to trying to get in the tub by himself.” Check out the reviews yourself for even more cute stories and loads of freshly clean-pup pictures.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Conditioner - Vanilla & Almond

We’ve covered coconut, we gave you peppermint, now here’s one for the vanilla lovers–vanilla and almost to be specific. This delicious scent combination will leave your four-legged friend’s skin moisturized and soothed using the power of oatmeal and aloe combined, and they’ll smell like a homemade pastry to boot. This one works best when you can really rub it in and let it sit for a full minute, so prepare to keep Fido entertained briefly in the tub while it works its magic, then rinse fully to have a soft, real-life teddy bear on your hands for snuggling.

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