Bathing is an important part of hygiene for dogs, but selecting the right dog shampoo can be tricky. A dog’s skin is sensitive and requires natural, gentle ingredients, but if your dog is particularly smelly, you’re also going to need something that works!
So, let’s take a look at how to choose the best dog shampoo for your pooch, as well as a list of our twelve favorite products, bathing tips, and FAQ!
Dog Bathing Basics
All dogs have oils in their skin and coat that protect it, nourish it, and keep it clean. However, some dogs’ fur is more high maintenance than others and needs a helping hand from us owners. It’s important to bathe your dog correctly to maintain a healthy balance of oils, as overbathing can strip the oils from their coats and cause a dull coat and dry, irritated skin. On the flip side, not bathing your dog enough can cause a build-up of oils, dirt, and debris, which can lead to bad hygiene, bad smells, irritation, discomfort, and in extreme cases, infection.
How often your dog requires a bath depends on their coat type. Most short-medium length coats don’t require regular baths and shouldn’t be bathed more than once every other month, especially if their fur is soft, straight, or wavy. They do need the occasional bath though, especially when they are dirty from particularly muddy walks.
Longer coats, coarser coats, and those with curls or cords should be bathed more routinely, but not more than once a month. This is because thicker, longer coats tend to trap dirt and debris more easily. Bathing can be done at home, but you can also pay a professional dog groomer to do it.
What To Look For in Dog Shampoo
Whatever your dog’s coat type, owners should use a shampoo with healthy, natural, gentle ingredients as to not upset the chemical balance of your dog’s skin and hair, especially with breeds prone to sensitive skin, such as Dalmatians. You can even buy shampoos that cater to specific needs. For example, de-odorizing shampoos for smelly dogs and shampoos that are medicated for specific skin issues or to remove parasites.
You can also buy waterless dry dog shampoos if your dog hates having baths. They work in much the same way as dry shampoo for humans; by absorbing excess oil from the hair, leaving their coat nice and fresh without the need for rinsing. Whichever method you chose, always avoid products with harsh chemicals that can decrease the health of your dog’s skin over time or cause irritation in dogs with sensitive skin or allergies.
Ingredients to Avoid:
- Products that have a blend of coat and skin conditioners and moisturizers
- Artificial fragrance
- Artificial colors
- Mineral oil
- SD Alcohol 40 (A.K.A isopropyl or SD-40)
- Polyethylene Glycol
- PEG-40 Lanolin
- Propylene Glycol
DIY Dog Shampoo
To make your own dog shampoo at home, you can use one of the following simple 3-ingredient homemade recipes:
- 2 cups of warm water
- 1/4 cup of non-toxic dish soap or baby shampoo
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
Vinegar and baking soda are both effective deodorizers. You can also add a couple of drops of an essential oil such as lavender to create a nice smell, aloe vera gel to calm sensitive skin, or coconut oil to moisturize dry skin and hair.
How to Bathe Your Dog
If your dog has particularly sensitive skin or is prone to allergies, always perform a patch test with new products. To do a patch test, put a small bit of product on a small patch of their skin and wait 48 hours to see if they have a reaction. If their skin gets irritated, don’t use it.
To bathe your dog, get them to come to the shower or bathtub, or an outdoor space on your property if it’s a warm day. Wet their fur with warm water from a showerhead, or some kind of container filled up from a tap if you’re outside.
Next, thoroughly lather them up with the shampoo and gently use your hands to massage it into their coat and skin, careful to avoid their eyes and ears. Rinse away the shampoo with more warm water, and repeat if you feel it’s necessary.
Make sure their fur is completely free of suds when you rinse them off, and then dry them as best you can with a clean towel. Allow them to air dry or sit in the sun to dry properly if it’s warm outside, or you can use a hairdryer, set to a cool setting if your dog doesn’t mind.
12 Best Dog Shampoos for Smelly Dogs
These are the best shampoos for smells dogs currently available to buy on Amazon!
1. GERRARD LARRIETT’s Aromatherapy Shampoo & Conditioner for Pets Dog Shampoo
This medicated deodorizing dry shampoo by Gerrard Larriett comes in an 8 fl oz bottle and is made from 100% natural, biodegradable, and eco-friendly materials and ingredients. It’s also paraben and dye-free and 100% safe for both dogs and cats.
It’s a no-rinse, no water product, and just requires you to towel off the excess from your dog after usage. The shampoo is also made in the USA and contains lavender and chamomile oil to soothe irritated skin, protect sensitive skin, and smell lovely. Reviews really like the product, although some do say that it’s best for dogs with dry coats, as use on dogs with normal fur can make hair greasy.
2. PetAg Fresh ‘n Clean Scented Dog Shampoo
PetAg’s dog shampoo comes in an 18 fl oz bottle. It contains Aloe Vera and vitamin E which strengthens sensitive skin and conditions and moisturizes the coat. Vitamin E is also great for protecting bare skin from sun damage. The product promotes long-lasting odor control and a nice scent that lasts for up to two weeks.
Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and many note a marked improvement in the appearance and smell of their dogs’ coats.
3. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo
This vanilla and almond-scented PH balanced dog shampoo by Earthbath helps to relieve dry and itchy skin with colloidal oatmeal and organic aloe vera. It keeps dogs clean and fresh for weeks and uses all-natural ingredients with no harmful stuff.
It’s also made in the USA, cruelty-free, and comes with a happiness or your money-back guarantee. Reviews cannot praise the product highly enough.
4. Furminator Deodorizing Ultra Premium Dog Shampoo
Furminator’s deodorizing shampoo comes in two bottle size options; 16 fl oz and 1 gallon. It uses baking soda and vegetable extract for natural, gentle but effective odor neutralizing. It contains no parabens, artificial colors, or chemical dyes and reviews say it also works well for heavy shedders.
5. Lillia Ruff Waterless Dog Shampoo
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Lillia Ruff’s dry shampoo comes in a 16 fl oz bottle. It smells like lavender and vanilla and also contains aloe vera and coconut oil for dry or irritated skin and fur. The ingredients also work as a natural repellent of fleas and ticks.
Buyers seem to love this product as it has almost no bad reviews, although some do say that the bottle isn’t the easiest to work with, but this is easily remedied by using your own.
6. Rocco & Roxie Dog Shampoos for All Dogs
Available in three different recipes; calm for delicate skin, soothe for dry and irritated skin and shine for dull coats, Rocco & Roxie’s dog shampoos come in fl 16 oz and 32 fl oz bottles.
They’re made with natural ingredients like honey extract, olive oil, shea butter, aloe vera, and chamomile. The shampoos are all hypoallergenic and tackle bad smells effectively. The product is an Amazon best-seller and buyers highly recommend it according to reviews.
7. 4Legger Organic Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Aloe and Lavender Essential Oil
This organic dog shampoo by 4Legger comes in a 16 fl oz bottle. It is 100% biodegradable and doesn’t have any artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals. The shampoo contains saponified organic oils of coconut, olive, and jojoba, as well as organic aloe vera, organic oatmeal glycerite, organic lavender essential oil, and rosemary extract.
It’s super gentle for dogs with allergies and damaged or sensitive skin. It is also recommended by holistic veterinarians, USDA certified, and comes with a money-back guarantee.
8. Wahl 4-in-1 Calming Pet Shampoo
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Wahl’s 4-in-1 calming shampoo comes in 24 fl oz and 64 fl oz bottles. It claims to clean, condition, detangle, & moisturize coats. The shampoo is lavender scented, PH balanced, and free from alcohol, parabens, and PEG-80. It’s perfect for dogs with thick hair and really livens up the texture and appearance of dogs’ coats on top of giving it a good clean.
The product is made in the USA and used by professionals all around the country. Reviews love the product and many buyers state that the nice smell lasts for a long time.
9. Veterinary Formula Solutions’ Soothing & Deodorizing Oatmeal Shampoo
Veterinary Formula Solutions’ soothing and deodorizing shampoo comes in 17 fl oz and 1-gallon bottles and is available in three different, long-lasting scents; fresh, lavender, and coconut. It’s designed for dogs with dry, irritated skin and smelly coats.
It uses a naturally derived coconut-oil-based cleanser and is specially formulated with baking soda, zinc, and aloe vera. Reviews note a significant difference in their dog’s skin irritation and praise the lovely scent choices.
10. Pro Pet Works’ Oatmeal Pet Wash Shampoo & Conditioner
Pro Pet Works’ shampoo and conditioner comes in 17 fl oz bottles and is suitable for both cats and dogs. It contains vitamin E, aloe vera gel, almond oil, oatmeal. It is hypo-allergenic and soap-free, plus it smells nice, too.
Their shampoo is made in the USA and reviews rave about the product, claiming that it leaves their dogs’ coats super soft, shiny, and beautiful.
11. Paws & Pals’ Oatmeal Shampoo
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Paws & Pals’ shampoo for dogs comes in 20 fl oz and 128 fl oz bottles. It contains oatmeal and essential oils to moisturize and soothe dry, itchy skin. It also makes coats smell nice and helps with allergies, hot spots, irritation, and sensitivity.
The product is vegan, organic, and made in the USA. Buyers love it and many reviews call it great value for money, especially for dogs who have problematic skin.
12. Honeydew PetPleasant’s Lavender Oatmeal Dog Shampoo
PetPleasant’s dog shampoo comes in an 8 fl oz bottle. It contains oatmeal and lavender oil that cleanses, moisturizes, and deodorizes dry skin and fur. Reviews are very positive, but it may not be best for allergy-prone skin as some buyers remind owners to always do patch tests on their dogs before trying something new.
Stinky Dog Shampoo: FAQ
Most short-medium length coats don’t require regular baths and shouldn’t be bathed more than once every other month, especially if their fur is soft, straight, or slightly wavy.
Longer coats, coarser coats, and those with curls or cords should be bathed more routinely, but not more than once a month. This is because thicker, longer coats tend to trap dirt and debris more easily.
Deodorizing shampoos are shampoos that contain natural odor-neutralizing ingredients such as baking soda that kill bad smells on contact.
Human hair and skin have completely different PH balances to dog hair and skin. Human shampoos are designed to clean our hair whilst maintaining a healthy PH balance, so if you use it on a dog, it would completely disrupt theirs.
Wet your dog’s fur with warm water and lather them up with shampoo, careful to avoid their eyes and ears. Rinse away the shampoo with more warm water, and repeat if you feel it’s necessary.
You can make your own dog shampoo at home using warm water, natural, dog-safe soap, oatmeal, or baby shampoo and white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda if your dog is smelly.
Baking soda and vinegar are both effective deodorizers. You can also add a couple of drops of essential oil such as lavender for a nice smell, aloe vera gel for sensitive skin, or coconut oil to moisturize dry skin and hair.
Avoid any products that contain the following ingredients: artificial fragrances, phthalates, artificial colors, formaldehyde, isothiazolinone, parabens, cocamide-MEA, triethanolamine, mineral oil, alcohol, polyethylene glycol, PEG-40 lanolin, or propylene glycol. Some of these chemicals are toxic and can disrupt your dogs’ chemical balance and actually damage their overall health over time.
If your dog hates having baths, you can try a waterless dog shampoo or “dry” shampoo for dogs. They work in much the same way as dry shampoo for humans; by absorbing excess oil from the hair, leaving their coat nice and fresh without the need for rinsing.
Those are our ten favorite dog shampoos for smelly dogs. Remember to always perform a patch test with new products if your dog is prone to allergies, and take your dog to the vet if you’re concerned about the health of their skin or coat.