6 Best Dog Shampoos for Sensitive Skin: Our 2019 Guide

Bathing your dog from time to time is one of your basic duties as a dog owner. It makes  sense to give your dog a bath after he’s just rolled in something stinky or after you’ve spent a muddy day at the dog park, but bathing should be part of your regular grooming routine as well.

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Regular baths help to keep your dog’s skin and coat clean and healthy.

Your dog’s skin produces natural oils which help moisturize and protect his skin but, over time, those oils can accumulate on the surface of the skin and prevent it from breathing properly. Other materials like dirt, dust, and dander can clog up your dog’s coat too, causing itching and irritation that will only get worse.

But what do you do if your dog has sensitive skin? Certain shampoos (especially shampoo for humans) have the potential to make his skin problems worse. Rather than avoiding bathing your dog altogether, try using a sensitive skin dog shampoo instead. Keep reading to learn more about them and to see our top picks for the best sensitive skin dog shampoos.

8 Reasons Why Dogs Have Skin Problems

All dogs scratch from time to time, but if your dog seems to be scratching the same spots, or if he’s developing patches of hair loss, it could be more than just an occasional itch. Skin problems in dogs are more common than dog owners realize, and there are many potential causes. Here is an overview of the top 8 reasons why dogs have skin problems:

  1. Skin allergies
  2. Food allergies
  3. External parasites
  4. Bacterial infections
  5. Yeast infections
  6. Poor diet
  7. Dry skin
  8. Autoimmune disorders

Dogs can be sensitive to environmental allergens in the same way that people can. Skin allergies can be caused by everything from grass and pollen to dust, medications, and fragrances. Dogs can also develop allergies to certain food ingredients such as wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and beef. Food allergies in dogs typically present with skin-related symptoms such as itching, irritation, and inflammation.

External parasites are another common cause of skin problems in dogs. Fleas, ticks, mites, and other external parasites can irritate your dogs skin and cause symptoms ranging from mild itching and irritation to serious inflammation, hot spots, sores, and hair loss. Your dog can also be affected by bacterial skin infections and yeast infections.

The diet you feed your dog can also have an impact on his skin. If your dog’s diet lacks essential fatty acids (particularly omega fatty acids), his coat could become dull and dry. Some dogs also simply have dry skin which is more prone to itching and irritation. Skin problems can also be related to autoimmune disorders like lupus, hypothyroidism, pemphigus complex, and more.

5 Things to Look for in a Good Sensitive Skin Shampoo for Dogs

If your dog has sensitive skin, you need to be especially careful when choosing a dog shampoo. The wrong shampoo could make your dog’s existing skin problems worse or trigger new problems. Here are some things to look for in a good dog shampoo for sensitive, itchy skin:

  1. Hypoallergenic – The term hypoallergenic simply means that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients likely to cause an allergic reaction and that’s exactly what you need for a dog with sensitive skin. These shampoos are designed to be gentle and mild for dogs with skin problems.
  2. Natural Ingredients – Chemicals, artificial fragrances, and synthetic ingredients are likely to make your dog’s skin problems worse, so look for a sensitive skin dog shampoo that contains natural ingredients.
  3. pH-Balanced – Your dog’s skin has a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 which is different from your own, so make sure the shampoo you choose is pH-balanced for dogs.
  4. Moisturizers – In addition to cleansing your dog’s sensitive skin, you also want to restore its natural moisture balance to keep it protected until the next bath. Soothing natural moisturizers for sensitive skin include things like aloe vera, oatmeal, and tea tree oil.
  5. Herbal Extracts – Essential oils and herbal plant extracts can be very beneficial for dogs with sensitive skin because they provide health benefits without triggering a negative reaction. For example, rosemary oil offers calming benefits and lemongrass is a natural flea repellant.

In addition to making sure that the sensitive skin shampoo you choose meets the requirements listed above, you should also pay attention to the ingredients it does NOT contain. Avoid dog shampoos that contain harsh ingredients like alcohols which can be very drying for your dog’s skin as well as synthetic ingredients like parabens, phosphates, and sulfates. You may also want to look for a shampoo that is made with soap-free cleansers to ensure that it is extra-mild for your dog’s sensitive skin.

Overall Best Sensitive Skin Shampoos for Dogs

The best sensitive skin shampoo for dogs will be made from natural, hypoallergenic ingredients in a formula that gently cleanses and moisturizes your dog’s skin. If you’re not sure where to start looking, try one of the 6 best sensitive skin shampoos for dogs we’ve reviewed below:

 Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Dogs

If you’re looking for a gentle, natural shampoo to clean and hydrate your dog’s sensitive skin, try this Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Dogs. This shampoo features soothing natural ingredients to gently cleanse and moisturize your dog’s skin and coat. It contains natural moisturizers like aloe vera and vitamin E in a tearless, soap-free formula that relieves itching and helps improve the condition of dry, brittle coats. It won’t affect your dog’s flea control products, and it is safe for regular use.

  • Pros: Natural ingredients, tearless and soap-free formula, relieves itchy skin, moisturizes skin and coat, improves coat condition, won’t affect flea control products
  • Cons: Scent may be too strong for some dogs, may be somewhat difficult to rinse out completely

5 More Top Rated Sensitive Skin Shampoos for Dogs

If the sensitive skin dog shampoo reviewed above doesn’t seem like the right fit for your dog, that’s okay! There are plenty of others to consider. Here are 5 more top rated sensitive skin shampoos for dogs that we heartily recommend:

Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

Though it may not be specifically designed for sensitive skin, this Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner is one of the best dog shampoos on the market, and it is made with all-natural ingredients. This 2-in-1 product gently cleanses your dog’s coat while deodorizing and moisturizing his skin. It contains pure botanical extracts and natural conditioners like aloe vera, sage, and rosemary with a coconut-based cleanser that is gentle on sensitive skin.

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

Designed to be gentle yet effective, this Paws & Pals Natural Oatmeal, Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Dog Shampoo is a great option for dogs with sensitive skin. It is 100% all-natural and organic, made with soothing natural ingredients like oatmeal, shea butter, and aloe vera to hydrate your dog’s dry skin while also supporting the healing process. It contains jojoba and coconut oils to relieve itching while restoring the natural oils in your dog’s skin. It is free from irritating ingredients, and it is a tear-free formula that won’t bother your dog’s nose or eyes.

4-Legger Organic, Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo

This 4-Legger Organic Hypoallergenic Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo is made with natural and organic ingredients in a hypoallergenic formula designed to soothe and cleanse your dog’s sensitive skin. It features a holistic blend of essential oils to clean, moisturize, and condition your dog’s skin and coat without stripping it of its natural oils. It also comes in a concentrated formula that is easy to lather and rinse so you can rest assured that your dog is squeaky clean.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo

If your dog suffers from dry, itchy skin or he’s had a bad reaction to other shampoos, this Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Shampoo is a good one to try. It is a soap-free formula designed to relieve itching and irritation while also cleansing and deodorizing your dog’s skin and coat. It contains a combination of oatmeal and aloe to heal and moisturize your dog’s skin as well as a pleasing vanilla and almond scent. It is safe for puppies as young as 6 weeks, and it is gentle enough for frequent use.

Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Calm Dog Shampoos

Designed specifically for puppies and dogs with sensitive skin and skin problems, this Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Calm Dog Shampoo is a great option. Made with soothing natural ingredients like aloe vera extract, this shampoo seals in moisture to keep your dog’s skin and coat hydrated. It contains gentle cleansers as well as natural moisturizers and plant extracts to improve skin’s texture and elasticity. Plus, it is free from dyes, alcohols, and parabens.

FAQ Regarding Sensitive Skin Shampoos

  • What is the best thing to wash a dog with sensitive skin? – The best thing to wash a dog with sensitive skin is a product that will soothe and moisturize his skin while gently cleansing it. Many dogs with sensitive skin respond well to hypoallergenic dog shampoo and shampoos made with natural ingredients. If you’re in a bind and you don’t have any sensitive skin dog shampoo on hand, you can use nontoxic dish soap.
  • How do you make dog shampoo for sensitive skin? – If you’re having trouble finding a sensitive skin dog shampoo that doesn’t make your dog’s skin problems worse, you might consider making your own, so you can control the ingredients that go into it. Homemade dog shampoo can be made with ingredients like white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, nontoxic dish soap, vegetable glycerin, and aloe vera gel. You can also add essential oils to give your shampoo a pleasant scent or to provide additional benefits.
  • What is hypoallergenic dog shampoo? – The term “hypoallergenic” simply means that the product is free from ingredients that are likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, there are many ingredients that a dog can be allergic to, so a shampoo that is hypoallergenic for one dog may not be for another dog. Generally speaking, however, hypoallergenic dog shampoo is made with gentle, natural ingredients which makes it a great choice for dogs with sensitive skin.

Every dog is different, and there are many potential causes for sensitive skin and skin problems in dogs. If you’re concerned that your dog’s sensitive skin is caused by an underlying health problem, speak to your veterinarian to see what’s really going on. If your dog is simply sensitive to certain ingredients, choose one of the top sensitive skin shampoos for dogs reviewed above and give it a try the next time you decide to give your dog a bath.

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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