If your dog has a bacterial skin infection, you should seek advice from your vet. He or she may recommend an antibacterial dog shampoo to alleviate symptoms and complement other treatments. Here are four of the best options.
Antibacterial shampoos can relieve symptoms and interrupt the reproduction of bacteria. They often aren’t enough to cure the infection, which is why visiting a vet is essential, but can be an important part of treatment.
In this article, I’ll discuss the symptoms and causes of bacterial skin infections. I’ve also recommended four high-quality antibacterial dog shampoos.
Please Note: This article is not written by a veterinarian, nor is it meant to provide veterinary advice. Always consult with a vet before starting treatment, as it’s vital to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to avoid making an infection worse.
Three active ingredients for skin infections
The Douxo Antibacterial Shampoo contains three active ingredients, making it a good choice for helping to treat bacterial infections. It can also protect the skin from losing moisture.
I’ve said it already, but I want to emphasize that you should always consult your vet before using any type of medicated dog shampoo.
Many conditions can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis before starting treatment. It’s easy to confuse a mild skin condition with something more serious, as they have similar symptoms.
Starting home treatment using over the counter or home remedies, without seeking advice from your vet, may not improve your dog’s skin infection. In fact, it could make the problem worse.
Most of the time, a medicated shampoo will only be part of the solution to your dog’s problem. Your vet will likely also prescribe drugs or other treatments.
Bacterial skin infections are often referred to as Pyoderma. These can be simple or complex, and are often secondary due to an underlying condition. They usually occur when bacteria enters the skin through a cut or scratch and then spreads.
Simple infections tend to develop due to a one-off incident. This could be things like a flea infestation or a wound.
Complex infections are chronic or recurring. Common culprits for recurring skin infections include allergies, internal diseases (especially those impacting the immune system like Cushing’s Disease), or even breed genetics.
Often these conditions cause your dog to have itchy skin. When your dog scratches excessively, the wounds allow bacteria to enter the skin. As you can imagine, the infections are likely to keep returning until the underlying cause is treated.
The most common type of bacterial skin infection in dogs is Staphylococcus. This type of bacteria live dormant on the skin, but if the skin is compromised, can penetrate into the system and causes an infection.
Bacterial infections can cause symptoms like hair loss, inflammation, itchiness, skin scaling, flaking, pus-filled spots and discharge.
Antibacterial shampoos can relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms during your dog’s recovery, and may even clear up mild infections without further intervention. This is because medicated shampoos contain ingredients that can kill bacteria and prevent it from proliferating.
Shampoos are still an important part of treatment for more serious skin infections – although they probably won’t cure it. Your dog may also need oral antibiotics to cure the infection, along with other treatments to manage the underlying cause. If the root cause isn’t established and managed, bacterial skin infections are likely to return or proliferate.
There are a number of key elements you should consider when selecting a high-quality medicated dog shampoo. I’ve outlined some of these below, but the key points are to buy shampoo with proven antiseptic and antibacterial ingredients, and minimise harsh chemicals.
Active ingredients are those that are scientifically proven to have a therapeutic and pharmacological impact on bacterial infections.
Some of the most common examples in a medicated dog shampoo include:
Active ingredients are the most important factor when selecting an antibacterial shampoo, but they aren’t the only ingredients to consider.
You should also look for safe and (preferably) natural ingredients that have other benefits. This is especially important if the infection or underlying condition has caused other skin problems, such as dryness or irritation.
Some natural additions that could be helpful include:
For more information about the ingredients in shampoos, take a look at our guide to the best dog shampoos.
Dogs that are prone to skin infections often suffer from dry skin. You want to make sure that the shampoo has gentle, mild and moisturizing ingredients that are not likely to dry the skin further.
Steer clear of shampoos that have too many additional chemical ingredients. Harsh artificial components like sulfates and parabens are more likely to cause irritation, and can strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin and coat.
Of course, you won’t be able to avoid chemicals altogether when choosing an antibacterial dog shampoo. The active ingredients used in medicated shampoos are synthetic, but it makes sense to steer clear of additional artificial fragrances, cleansers, colorings and preservatives where you can.
It can be tempting to reach for your own shampoo when your dog needs a bath. Maybe you even have one designed to manage a human bacterial skin infection. Doing this could, however, be detrimental to your dog’s recovery.
Human shampoos contain ingredients that are safe for us but may be toxic to dogs. Humans also have a more acidic skin pH level in comparison to dogs. Using a human shampoo on your dog could disrupt their ‘acid mantle’ and lead to further skin irritation and dryness.
Listed below are four of the best antibacterial dog shampoos. Make sure you consult with your vet before choosing a medicated shampoo, as the right option depends on the underlying cause of your dog’s infection.
The Douxo Sogeval Chlorhexidine shampoo is an effective option for bacterial infections that contains three active ingredients.
Chlorhexidine and Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine are two of the most common ingredients for treating skin infections. This is due to their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Climbazole is more commonly used for treating fungal skin infections (sch as a yeast infection), but also has antimicrobial properties which are beneficial in any medicated shampoo.
Aside from the three active ingredients, Douxo contains capryloyl glycine. Known for being an effective moisturizer, it can help regulate the pH balance of the skin and may enhance the antiseptic properties of other ingredients. This ingredient regularly features in shampoos designed to inhibit dandruff.
The Douxo medicated dog shampoo also contains citric acid. Studies have found that it demonstrates antimicrobial properties too.
The fragrance isn’t overpowering, and the shampoo generates a decent lather. It will adhere to your dog’s coat well, while you wait for the obligatory ten minutes for maximum effect. Just make sure you have plenty of treats to keep your dog distracted during this time.
While it can produce good results, this dog shampoo does have a fair few chemical ingredients. It also uses the generic ‘fragrance’ term, so we don’t know what’s been used to create the scent. Because of this, if you have a dog with particularly sensitive skin or allergies, this may not be your preferred choice.
The Dechra Miconahex + Triz Medicated dog shampoo has two main active ingredients. Chlorhexidine, which is known for its antibacterial properties, and Miconazole.
Miconazole is more commonly used to treat fungal yeast infections rather than bacterial ones. Recent studies, however, show it can also help to treat certain bacterial infections. In particular, it may inhibit the growth of gram-positive bacteria, which include common staphylococci and streptococci.
TrizEDTA (tromethamine USP, disodium EDTA dihydrate) is an additional, specially formulated active ingredient. A small scale study was conducted on dogs with bacterial otitis (ear infections), and it was shown to help prevent the growth of bacteria.
Ceramides, which are lipid fatty acids with moisturizing properties, are another interesting ingredient. They can help soothe dry skin, while conditioning a long and healthy coat. This could make brushing out knots or tangles easier after bathtime.
If your dog has been suffering from dry, scaly and irritated skin as a result of their bacterial infection, the lactic acid contained in this shampoo could also be beneficial. It has been shown to stimulate skin cell renewal and speed up cell production, helping to repair and moisturize.
The shampoo also contains lavender and lemongrass oils. Not only do these help to give the shampoo a pleasant fragrance, but these natural ingredients may reduce inflammation, speed up wound healing, and assist with the antibacterial properties of the shampoo.
So, there’s no doubt that this antibacterial dog shampoo provides plenty of beneficial ingredients. Keep in mind that you may want to soak your dog before application, as it’s not the easiest to lather. You’ll also need to leave it to penetrate for around 10 minutes.
Alongside Chlorhexidine, this antibacterial dog shampoo from Curaseb also contains Ketoconazole as another active ingredient. While Ketoconazole is commonly used for treating fungal infections, it also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial when treating a bacterial skin infection.
The Glycolic Acid in this shampoo will be helpful for dogs suffering from dry and scaly skin. It has hydrating properties, plus it helps to speed up cell turnover, meaning dead skin will be removed more quickly.
The scent isn’t too overpowering, but it’s a shame that Curaseb only list it as ‘fragrance’ on the ingredient list. For dogs with known sensitivities, you can’t establish exactly what is contained in the shampoo.
It also contains a longer list of chemical ingredients than some of the other shampoos reviewed in this article.
The Pet MD Medicated Shampoo contains three active ingredients: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur.
Benzoyl peroxide is the key ingredient, as it inhibits bacterial growth – an essential part of managing bacterial skin conditions. The salicylic acid also has antibacterial properties, but has the added effect of helping to shed dead and dry skin.
Unlike most of the other shampoos on this list, the Pet MD may be better suited for dogs with oily skin, rather than dryness. This is because the sulfur, while having antibacterial properties, helps reduce sebum protection.
The shampoo does have other moisturizing ingredients though. These include propylene glycol, which hydrates the skin, and tocoheryl acetate (a form of Vitamin E).
It’s a little disappointing that this shampoo has a number of chemical cleansers and preservatives, and it doesn’t list the ingredients used for the fragrance. The active ingredients, however, are effective when dealing with problem skin conditions and infections.
If your dog is suffering from a bacterial skin infection, it’s important to consult with a vet. There can often be underlying causes of skin infections that require specific treatment. If this is neglected, your dog’s symptoms could worsen, regardless of whether you’re using a high-quality antibacterial shampoo or not.
When selecting a medicated shampoo, always look for active ingredients that are proven to be effective at treating bacterial skin infections. The best options have minimal unnecessary ingredients, contain several active ingredients, and have natural additions that can improve the health of your dog’s skin and coat.
My top pick is the Chlorhexidine Shampoo from Duoxo. It has three active ingredients, all known to be effective when treating a skin infection. This combination increases the chance of a positive and soothing impact for your dog.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best antibacterial dog shampoo. If you have any questions, please use the comments form below.