While conditioners aren’t essential for bathing your dog, they can tease out knots and promote a healthy coat. Here’s a complete guide to choosing the best dog conditioner for your pet.
- Why Use a Coat Conditioner for Your Dog?
- 5 Best Dog Conditioner Reviews
- 1. Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Conditioner (Best Oatmeal Dog Conditioner)
- 2. BarkLogic Hypoallergenic Conditioner & Detangling Spray (Best Leave In Conditioner For Dogs)
- 3. FURminator deShedding Ultra Conditioner (Best for Shedding)
- 4. Paws & Pals Dog Conditioner for Dry Itchy Skin With Essential Oils
- 5. Sofee & Co Natural Dog and Puppy Conditioner
- Tips for Choosing a Dog Conditioner
By following up with a conditioner, you can moisturize your dog’s skin and prevent the coat from becoming dry. Dog conditioners also add shine, reduce static, and, if you have a long-haired dog, make it easier to untangle knots.
For these reasons, many groomers recommend using a conditioner – even if they aren’t always essential for grooming. Here are five of the best dog conditioners to help you make an informed choice.
Note: While you can get 2-in-1 shampoos and conditioners, these may be less effective than using each separately. We’ve focused on standalone dog conditioners in this article. If you want to learn about shampoos, check out our guide to the best dog shampoos.
Our #1 Pick: EarthBath Dog Conditioner
Aloe and oatmeal to moisturize your dog’s coat
We think the EarthBath Oatmeal & Aloe is the best dog conditioner available at the moment. It’s a gentle formula that soothes, moisturizes, and may even prevent itchiness in some dogs. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan.
Why Use a Coat Conditioner for Your Dog?
Just like humans, a conditioner isn’t an essential part of the dog grooming process. There are a number of benefits that make a high-quality conditioner worth considering though, such as:
- Can increase manageability. Canine conditioners make it easier to brush long-haired coats, which are prone to getting knotted and tangled. Even the process of bathing can tangle hair, so a conditioner’s smoothing properties will help you brush it out more easily. Of course, if your dog already has thick mats, these will likely need to be cut out.
- Can restore moisture. You shouldn’t bathe your dog too often. Once every month is a recommended maximum to avoid stripping the coat of its natural oils. If you need to bathe your pet more frequently, perhaps due to a medical condition, conditioners can restore moisture to your dog’s skin and coat, preventing it from becoming dry, flaky or itchy*.
- Can reduce static. Conditioners flatten, lubricate, and moisturize hair cuticles, which reduces the amount of static generated. This can be particularly helpful for longer-haired dogs, especially during the winter months when the humidity is lower and the heating is on.
- Can boost shine. Conditioners are designed to flatten the cuticle over the hair shaft, and this can give your dog’s coat a shinier and healthier appearance. Using a conditioner at bath time can also give long coats a silky texture (which is particularly useful for breeds like Shih Tzus.)
- Can protect against damage. If your dog has fine, long and fragile hair, it can be more prone to damage. Sealing the cuticles and coating the hair with a conditioner can provide a protective layer. It isn’t a miracle cure, but can strengthen the hair making it less likely to break.
Using a dog conditioner isn’t always required though. It can sometimes even have a detrimental effect:
- Dogs with naturally oily coats. Breeds with a naturally oily coat, such as Labradors, often don’t need a dog conditioner. Using one could weigh their coat down and make it feel greasy. These breeds also need less frequent bathing to maintain their coat’s water-repellent and insulating properties.
- Dogs already using a medicated shampoo. If your pet has a prescribed medicated dog shampoo to manage a skin condition, then a conditioner may interfere with its beneficial properties. Dogs with sensitive skin or allergies may also react to certain ingredients.
- Dogs that don’t like being bathed. If your dog hates bath time, it’s a good idea to keep sessions short to build positive associations. Adding another step into the grooming process probably isn’t a good idea! If you’re keen for your dog to receive conditioning benefits, try a 2-in-1 shampoo.
Don’t forget that dogs have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do. While it may be pleasant to have your dog smelling of a lovely fragrance for days after bath time, your dog probably won’t agree. A mild smelling dog conditioner made with a natural fragrance is often the kinder choice for your pet.
On a similar note, avoid overbathing your pet just to get that “fresh dog” smell. Washing with shampoos and conditioners too frequently can cause dry skin, discomfort and even skin infections.
* Note: Irritated skin could be a sign of an underlying condition. We always recommend consulting your vet to rule out medical problems and to confirm that a conditioner is safe to use.
5 Best Dog Conditioner Reviews
There’s no such thing as the best dog conditioner for all dogs. The right choice depends on your dog’s coat and skin.
Here are five of my favourite conditioners, including mini reviews to help you choose. I’ve only listed conditioners, rather than shampoo and conditioner combos, as I believe separate products (usually) work best.
1. Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Conditioner (Best Oatmeal Dog Conditioner)VIEW PRICE
The Earthbath Oatmeal Conditioner is our top pick for a dog conditioner. It has a gentle formula that contains colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera, to soothe and moisturize your dog’s skin.
I also think it provides great value for money. A little goes a long way with this conditioner, so be careful not to use too much!
The combination of oatmeal and aloe leaves a dog’s coat shiny and soft, plus it may help reduce itchiness. The minimal ingredient list also means there’s less chance of your dog reacting to something, so it’s a good choice for sensitive skin.
The vanilla and almond scent is mild but pleasant. A bonus is that Earthbath produces a fragrance-free option that’s great for sensitive dog noses.
Overall, the Earthbath is a high quality dog conditioner and one that’s easy for me to recommend to other dog owners.VIEW PRICE
2. BarkLogic Hypoallergenic Conditioner & Detangling Spray (Best Leave In Conditioner For Dogs)VIEW PRICE
If your dog doesn’t enjoy bath time, the BarkLogic Hypoallergenic Leave-In Conditioner could be worth considering as an alternative to a rinse-out conditioner. It’s designed to make your pet’s hair easier to detangle, whilst improving skin and coat health.
This conditioner can be applied to both wet or dry fur, so your dog doesn’t need to be in the bath. It adds moisture, whilst making combing or brushing long hair a little easier. The aloe also provides soothing and moisturizing properties.
BarkLogic has natural ingredients and, like Earthbath, is cruelty-free and vegan approved. There are three different fragrance options and I don’t think any are overpowering. They all have slightly different ingredients though, so it’s worth checking to see which one appeals the most.
Because this is a leave-in conditioner, frequent use may cause a build-up of the product. This can make the coat seem greasy and heavy. It’s also a little more expensive than your average conditioner.
If you’re looking for a combination of conditioner and detangler, however, the BarkLogic is one of the best options.
Tip: We’ve also written a guide to hypoallergenic dog shampoos, which you can read here.VIEW PRICE
3. FURminator deShedding Ultra Conditioner (Best for Shedding)VIEW PRICE
If your dog sheds a lot, the FURminator deShedding Ultra conditioner is one of the best options. It’s designed to help minimize shedding and is even used by some professional groomers for this purpose.
The FURminator conditioner contains ingredients that can penetrate deep down into the undercoat to lift out dead hair. Just make sure you cover the plug hole to prevent hairs from blocking your bathtub drain!
This conditioner offers good value for money too, so is a good choice for those on a budget.
There are a few drawbacks though. The FURminator deshedding conditioner contains mostly natural ingredients, and is free from parabens and dyes. Still, it’s not 100% natural, and this could put off some users, especially if your dog has sensitive skin.
It isn’t a miracle solution either. Although it can reduce shedding, your dog will still need regularly brushing to keep their coat in a healthy condition.
Tip: Furminator also produces a deShedding shampoo for dogs. Take a look at our guide to the best dog shampoo for shedding to learn more.VIEW PRICE
4. Paws & Pals Dog Conditioner for Dry Itchy Skin With Essential OilsVIEW PRICE
The Paws and Pals Dry dog conditioner is reasonably priced and has a pleasant (but not overpowering) fragrance.
As the name suggests, this conditioner is specifically designed for dogs with dry or itchy skin. It contains shea butter, aloe vera, neem and lavender, all of which combine to soothe and moisturize. The conditioner also has the effect of deodorizing and cleaning your dog’s coat.
While the Paws & Pals doesn’t contain parabens, it has a long list of ingredients. Many of these are beneficial, such as aloe vera, but this increases the chance of an ingredient that might not agree with your dog. It also lists ‘fragrance’ as one of the ingredients without explaining what it is, which always makes me wary.
If your dog has an ongoing or severe problem with skin irritation or dryness, we always recommend taking them to the vet. Relying on shampoos or conditioners is not a long-term solution, and it can sometimes aggravate underlying medical conditions. If your dog’s vet says that a conditioner might help, however, then the Paws & Pals is one of the best for dry skin.VIEW PRICE
5. Sofee & Co Natural Dog and Puppy ConditionerVIEW PRICE
This is a popular all-natural dog conditioner that’s gentle enough to use on puppies. It deodorizes, moisturizes dry skin, and soothes your dog’s coat.
Sofee & Co are a small, ethical company that promote cruelty-free products. The pear scent is unique and, while not overpowering, does leave your dog smelling good enough to eat!
This conditioner is great for teasing out knots and tangles. It’s also thick, so a little goes a long way.
The Sofee is more expensive than your average conditioner, though. Also, because it’s so thick, it can be difficult to squeeze out of the bottle, especially when you have wet hands and a wriggly puppy to contend with!
It’s still one of my favourite dog conditioners though – especially as the formula contains completely natural ingredients.
Tip: Looking for a dog shampoo for your puppy? Take a look at our guide to shampoos for puppies.VIEW PRICE
Tips for Choosing a Dog Conditioner
The five dog conditioners are above are all excellent choices, but they aren’t the only options. Here are some factors to consider when choosing:
- Safe and non-toxic ingredients. Try to choose a conditioner with clearly listed and natural ingredients, such as aloe vera, vitamin E, oatmeal and jojoba oil. Chemically derived ingredients can be harsh on your dog’s skin and are more likely to strip natural oils. Common chemical ingredients to avoid include parabens, propylene glycol, bromopol and cocamide-MEA. Additionally, a minimal ingredients list is often better for dogs with sensitive skin.
- Lightly scented or fragrance-free. While humans might enjoy a refreshing scent, a strong smell can be uncomfortable for your dog’s sense of smell. Also, be wary of conditioners that don’t fully list their fragrance ingredients.
- Wash-off or leave-In conditioners. Leave-in conditioners can be handy for dogs that hate baths. They can also be sprayed before brushing to loosen any tangles – although they are more likely to leave a greasy residue than a wash-off conditioner.
- Brand ethics. Depending on your consumer habits, you may wish to look for an ethical and sustainable conditioner. Organic, vegan, cruelty free and all-natural conditioners are common examples.
- Separate or combo conditioner. If you want to save money and time, a 2-in-1 dog shampoo and conditioner could be an option. A combined shampoo and conditioner may not be as effective at moisturizing and detangling as separate conditioners though.
Note: If your dog is prone to tangles and mats, you may want to try a dog detangler. These sprays are great for loosening knots, making your dog’s coat easier to brush.
Can You Use Human Conditioner on Dogs?
Using a human conditioner on your dog in an emergency is unlikely to cause serious problems. Human conditioners shouldn’t be used regularly on a dog’s coat though.
Dogs have a more neutral skin pH than humans. Using a human conditioner could disrupt your dog’s skin pH balance and make it dry out more, especially with regular use. Human conditioners may also include chemicals or other products that are irritating, or even toxic, for dogs.
Additionally, dog conditioners are often developed to help with things like coat color enhancement, shedding and odor neutralizing. You won’t get the same benefits for your dog’s skin and coat from a human conditioner.
Even with dog conditioners, your furry friend can have a reaction to individual ingredients. It’s a good idea to patch test the conditioner on a small area of skin before using it on the whole body. The same is true when testing a new dog shampoo.
Choosing the best dog conditioner for your pet isn’t always easy. It’s important to pick one that matches your dog’s coat type, contains safe ingredients, and improves coat health. Your dog will also thank you for avoiding strong fragrances!
Our top pick is the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner. It’s made with a simple set of dog-safe ingredients, whilst moisturizing and soothing the skin. The Earthbath conditioner is also vegan and cruelty-free.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best dog conditioner for your pet. If you have any further queries about the information in this article, please use the comments form below.