7 Best Dog Shampoos for Dry Skin: Our 2018 Guide

Dry skin is a minor irritation at best but a serious discomfort at worst. When your skin gets a little dry, it’s easy enough to slather on some lotion and call it a day, but it’s not quite the same for your dog.

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For a dog, dry skin is often the result of an underlying problem such as allergies or infection. Diagnosing the problem is the first step in resolving it, but treatment is not always straightforward and simple. Unless you do something about it, however, the problem is just going to get worse, and your dog could end up with more serious issues like scaling, inflammation, and even hair loss.

So, what do you do for a dog with dry skin?

One of the best ways to resolve skin issues in dogs is finding the right shampoo. Even if your dog doesn’t have a diagnosable skin condition that requires medicated dog shampoo, there are plenty of moisturizing and conditioning shampoos out there that could help resolve his skin problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to a veterinarian before using a new product on your dog, but dry skin shampoo is typically gentle enough for regular use, and it might be just what your dog needs.

Keep reading to learn more about what causes dry skin in dogs and how the right shampoo can help. You’ll also receive our top 6 picks for the best dry skin shampoo for dogs.

10 Reasons Why Dogs Have Dry Skin

Some dog breeds are more highly prone to skin issues than others, but there are also a variety of underlying health problems that can cause skin problems in dogs. Dry skin might not seem like a big deal, but it may be a sign of a much larger, more serious problem that will only get worse unless you do something about it. This is why you should take your dog to the vet at the first sign of skin problems, including dry skin.

But how do you know your dog is suffering from dry skin when it’s covered by his coat?

As a dog owner, it is your job to pay attention to your dog and to keep an eye out for potential problems. If you live in an area with a cooler climate and low humidity, dry skin is more likely to be an issue. To check for dry skin, part your dog’s hair and look for dandruff in his undercoat (if he has one). You might also be able to see all the way through to your dog’s skin to check if it’s dry, cracked, or tough. It’s also a sign of dry skin if touching your dog’s skin causes him to scratch uncontrollably.

Dry skin can be caused by a wide variety of things in dogs ranging from diet to environmental allergens. You may not realize just how easily your dog’s skin can be affected by these things because it’s covered up by his coat. If the condition of your dog’s coat is starting to suffer, however, it’s a good bet that his skin probably isn’t in the best condition either.

So, what are some of the most common causes for dry skin in dogs? Here are a few:

  1. Food allergies or sensitivities
  2. Commercial pet food (dry)
  3. Environmental (contact) allergies
  4. External parasite infections
  5. Bacterial skin infections
  6. Yeast (fungal) skin dermatitis
  7. Seborrhea
  8. Hormonal imbalance
  9. Breed-specific skin disorders
  10. Autoimmune disease

Dog food allergies and sensitivities are more common than many dog owners realize. Your dog can develop an allergy to nearly any food ingredient, though the most common culprits are grains like corn and wheat as well as common proteins like beef, pork, chicken, and eggs. Even if your dog isn’t allergic to an ingredient in his food, the fact that most commercial pet foods are low in moisture could affect his skin. Dogs can also develop contact allergies to environmental allergens like dust, dirt, cleaning products, and the like.

External parasites like fleas, ticks, and mange mites can cause all kinds of trouble for dogs. Not only do these parasites have the potential to carry harmful pathogens, but widespread infestation can seriously impact your dog’s skin. The more he scratches, the more damaged his skin becomes and that leads to other issues like bacterial and yeast infections. Skin infections can cause a wide range of symptoms in dogs, but dry skin is a common sign that something isn’t right.

Seborrhea is a skin disease in dogs that causes dry, flaky skin or dandruff. It can also cause greasiness in the skin and coat which may then lead to an unpleasant odor and the potential for a secondary infection. Hormonal imbalance is another potential cause for dry skin, particularly when the dog’s thyroid gland is involved. Inadequate thyroid hormone or excess natural steroid production (such as Cushing’s disease) can lead to dry skin.

Not only are some breeds simply more prone to skin problems than others, but there are also some breed-specific skin conditions. For example, dogs with wrinkled skin (like Bulldogs) are prone to skin fold dermatitis which can lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. Poodles have a higher risk for sebaceous adenitis, and Chinese Cresteds are highly prone to dry skin. Dry skin in dogs can also be related to an underlying autoimmune disease like lupus and pemphigus.

Things to Look for in a Good Dry Skin Shampoo for Dogs

If you think that your dog’s dry skin is not a big deal, think again. Minor itching can worsen over time, especially if there’s an underlying health issue at play, and it can cause your dog serious discomfort. Frequent scratching, licking, and biting can also cause your dog to develop alopecia or hair loss. At the first sign of skin problems, you should talk to your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will be able to determine whether your dog’s dry skin is simply the result of low humidity or a lack of moisture in his diet or if it is something more serious. In the case of an underlying health condition, your vet will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment. In many cases, that treatment will involve the use of a specialized dog shampoo.

Dog shampoo for dry skin comes in many different forms. There are dry skin shampoos for general skin problems like allergies and dandruff as well as medicated dog shampoos for issues like bacterial skin infection, seborrhea, and yeast infections. Again, your vet will be able to tell you what kind of dry skin shampoo your dog needs to resolve his condition. If he doesn’t have an underlying health problem, a natural dog shampoo for dry skin may help restore moisture and resolve his skin issues.

So, what should you look for in a dry skin shampoo for dogs? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hypoallergenic – If your dog already has dry skin the last thing you want to do is irritate it further, so look for a hypoallergenic shampoo. The term hypoallergenic simply means that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients likely to cause an allergic reaction.
  • Natural Ingredients – For the same reason you should pick a hypoallergenic shampoo, you should also look for natural ingredients. In many cases, dry skin in dogs is related to contact allergies or a reaction to some kind of chemical, so make sure the shampoo is all-natural.
  • pH-Balanced – Your dog’s skin has a different pH than yours, so don’t use human shampoo on your dog. Look for a pH-balanced shampoo with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
  • Medicated – If your dog’s dry skin is related to a skin infection or another underlying health problem, you might need a medicated shampoo. You can find medicated shampoo for bacterial skin infections, yeast (fungal) infections, seborrhea, allergies, and more. Just make sure you talk to your veterinarian to find out what kind of medicated dog shampoo you need.
  • Moisturizers – In case it isn’t obvious, one of the key things to look for in a dog shampoo for dry skin is moisturizers. Coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera, tea tree oil, and oatmeal are all excellent options. It is best to use natural moisturizers to avoid irritating your dog’s already sensitive skin.
  • Deodorizers – Many skin conditions that cause dry skin can also make your dog smell unpleasant, so a dry skin dog shampoo that contains deodorizers is a benefit. Plus, the shampoo will help keep your dog smelling fresh between baths.

Remember, dry skin shampoos for dogs are not all created equal. If your dog has skin allergies, he will need a different shampoo than if he has a bacterial skin infection. Follow your veterinarian’s advice to find the perfect dog shampoo to resolve your pup’s skin problems and use it as directed.

7 Best Dry Skin Shampoos for Dogs

The best dry skin shampoo for dogs will be made from gentle, natural ingredients to cleanse your dog’s skin and coat while restoring moisture and speeding the healing process. You want to avoid anything made with harsh chemicals as well as drying ingredients like soap and alcohol. Here are our recommendations for the best dry skin shampoos for dogs:

Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter, & Aloe Vera Dog Shampoo

Overall Best Dry Skin Dog Shampoo: If you’re looking for the best dog shampoo for dry skin and dandruff, we recommend Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter, & Aloe Vera Dog Shampoo. This all-natural, organic oatmeal dog shampoo is the perfect solution to your dog’s dry skin. It features a soap-free formula that is non-toxic, gentle, and effective for relieving itchy skin caused by fleas, dander, and dryness. This shampoo contains natural aloe, coconut, and jojoba oils to moisturize dry, sensitive skin and to start the healing process. It also contains a delicate balance of essential oils for a pleasant scent and optimal coat conditioning.

  • Pros: 100% natural ingredients, soap-free formula, non-toxic and gentle, relieves dry and itchy skin, natural oils to moisturize skin, essential oils
  • Cons: Contains some added fragrance, won’t resolve bacterial or yeast infections

6 More Top Rated Dry Skin Shampoos for Dogs

If the dry skin shampoo reviewed above doesn’t seem like the perfect fit for your dog, don’t worry – there are many more options to choose from. Here are six more top-rated dry skin shampoos for dogs that we heartily recommend:

Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

If you’re looking for a natural dog shampoo for dry skin, Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner is a great option. This 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner features a gentle, soap-free formula that builds a rich lather to cleanse your dog’s skin and coat, leaving it soft and shiny. This shampoo is made with natural conditioners like aloe vera and sage as well as pure botanical extracts. It is a coconut-based cleanser and completely alcohol-free, plus it contains wheat protein as a natural deodorizer to keep your dog smelling fresh between baths.

Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs

For dry, itchy skin caused by allergies, try this Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs. This shampoo features essential oils and other natural ingredients to gently cleanse your dog’s skin and coat while relieving skin irritation. It moisturizes your dog’s skin as well with the help of essential oils, oatmeal, and tea tree oil which also produce a calming effect. This shampoo washes away allergens with a rich lather and leaves your dog smelling fresh with a pleasant herbal fragrance.

TropiClean Hypoallergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy Shampoo

Your puppy’s skin is already sensitive, so when he’s suffering from dry skin, you need a gentle formula like this TropiClean Hypoallergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy Shampoo. This coconut-based cleanser is gentle and mild in an all-natural, soap-free formula to clean and deodorize your puppy’s skin and coat. It contains soothing aloe vera and other simple, natural ingredients to keep your puppy clean and to replenish the natural moisture in his skin.

HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo with Essential Fatty Acids for Dogs

If your dog’s dry skin is caused by seborrhea, this HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo with Essential Fatty Acids for Dogs could be the right shampoo for you. It features hypoallergenic natural ingredients in a soap-free formula designed to moisturize, cleanse, and condition your dog’s skin and coat. This shampoo helps control flaking and scaling by restoring skin’s natural moisture with essential fatty acids for skin and coat conditioning. Plus, it won’t interfere with flea and tick products.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog Shampoo

This oatmeal dog shampoo features a soap-free formula that is gentle enough for dry, sensitive skin. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog Shampoo provides dry skin relief while also cleansing and deodorizing, helping your dog look and feel his best. With soothing aloe vera and moisturizing oatmeal, this shampoo with remoisturize, rehydrate and revitalize your dog’s skin. It is fragrance-free, making it a great choice for dogs with skin allergies and sensitivities, plus it is 100% biodegradable.

Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey

If you’re looking for an all-natural shampoo that is gentle on your dog’s skin, try this Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey. This formula features colloidal oat flour and honey for gentle cleansing and moisturizing, and it leaves your dog’s coat soft and shiny. It helps reduce itching caused by allergies and skin irritation while regulating and retaining skin’s natural moisture. It also contains green tea extracts to strengthen hair follicles for healthy growth, and it is pH-balanced for dogs to prevent redness, dryness, and flaking.

Dry skin is a minor issue that can easily become severe if you don’t treat it. Whether your dog has dry skin due to allergies or something more serious, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to treat it. Try one of the dry skin shampoos we’ve reviewed above or follow the tips we’ve provided to shop for dog shampoo for dry skin on your own.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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