5 Best Dog Shampoos for Itchy Skin (2020): Give Your Dog Relief With These Anti-Itch Shampoos

Help provide relief from dry itchy skin with these shampoos.

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated: January 27, 2020

Allergies, parasites and skin conditions are just a few reasons why your dog might have itchy skin. Here’s our guide to the best dog shampoo for itchy skin, along with advice on when to consult a vet.

A guide to shampoos for itchy skin
Have you noticed your dog is scratching more than normal? Dogs can develop itchy skin for a variety of reasons, ranging from superficial skin dryness to more serious conditions.

Anti-itch shampoos can provide relief when itching is caused by dry skin. They can’t solve other underlying causes, which is why you should consult a vet about excessive scratching, but can soothe and moisturize the skin.

In this article, you’ll learn why dogs get itchy skin and how anti-itch shampoos can help. I’ve also listed five of the best dog shampoos for itchy skin.

Note: You should always contact a vet if your dog is excessively scratching. It’s important to know what’s causing the problem before starting treatment or using a dog shampoo for itchiness.

Our #1 Pick

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe All Natural

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe All Natural

Great for moisturising skin with natural ingredients

My top pick for an anti-itch dog shampoo is the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe. With a combination of colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera and vitamin E, it moisturizes your dog’s skin, which may help relieve itchiness.

What Are The Symptoms of Itchy Skin?

One of the most obvious symptoms of itchy skin is excessive scratching. Your dog may scratch his entire coat or focus on a particular area, depending on what’s causing itchy skin.

Bald patches or hot spots could develop if your dog licks or chews specific areas. Flaky or scaly skin could also be accompanied by redness, dandruff, inflammation, irritation, and pain.

In severe cases, skin infections could develop. Excessive scratching can break the skin, which allows bacteria to enter the wound.

Some dogs may start to rub up against things or roll on the ground to get relief.

Why Do Dogs Get Itchy Skin?

Itchy skin, which is medically referred to as Pruritus, can be caused by a variety of external factors. Some of the most common include:

  • Allergies (Food or Environmental). Allergies are probably the most frequent culprit for dry skin. These can be environmental, such as pollen, chemical and grass allergies, or related to food. A process of elimination is often required to establish what’s triggering an allergy. Hypoallergenic shampoos can soothe itchy skin, and contain minimal ingredients to reduce the chance of a reaction.
  • Parasites. Several types of parasites can cause itchy skin. If your dog is infested with fleas or ticks, for example, this can make your dog itchy. Other examples include sarcoptic mange, which can develop after the highly contagious sarcoptes scabiei mite burrows into a dog’s skin, and demodectic mange. Antiparasitic treatment will be required after consultation with your vet.
  • Stress or boredom. Studies have suggested that chronic stress could contribute to itchy skin problems. Also, if your dog isn’t getting enough stimulation, then boredom can lead to compulsive behaviors like licking and chewing. This can cause dry and irritated skin. Working out what’s triggering your dog’s stress and developing a plan to help them manage their stress levels is important. In severe cases, consulting with a qualified canine behaviorist can be helpful.
  • Bacterial and Fungal infections. Bacterial or fungal infections, like ringworm or yeast dermatitis, can lead to itchy skin. It can be a vicious circle, as excessive scratching can break the skin, and this can lead to a secondary bacterial infection. This may require antibiotics and an antibacterial shampoo. Fungal infections, unlike bacterial ones, can’t be treated with antibiotics. A specific antifungal dog shampoo may be required.
  • Hormonal imbalances. Conditions like Cushing’s Disease and Hypothyroidism, which impact a dog’s hormones, can cause hair loss and dry skin. They require specific medication to manage the underlying illness.
  • Genetics. Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to developing dry skin conditions. Some of these include West Highland Terriers, Dobermans, Shar Peis and Dachshunds. Any dog can develop itchy skin though.
  • Climate. Winter weather conditions can sometimes result in your dog having itchy and dry skin. The dry heat in homes, combined with general low humidity, is the culprit. If this is a severe problem, you could consider a humidifier in your home.
  • Poor grooming habits. Dogs with thick coats need regular brushing it to lift out dead hairs. A lack of grooming can impact on coat and skin health.

Even the best dog shampoos for itchy skin can’t solve the underlying causes above. But they can soothe irritation and moisturize the skin, which provides relief.

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

I can’t overstate how important it is to seek veterinary advice for persistent itching. Don’t rely on anti-itch shampoos alone.

If itching is caused by an underlying condition, failing to get an accurate diagnosis could mean you use the wrong treatment. Aside from making your dog feel uncomfortable, this could allow the condition to get worse.

What to Look for in an Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo

If your dog has general dry or sensitive skin, then an anti-itch shampoo could relieve their discomfort. For other underlying causes of itchiness, you’ll need to consult with a vet about treatment.

Here are some of the most important factors when choosing a dog shampoo for itchy skin.

Soothing and Moisturizing Ingredients

There are a variety of dog-safe and natural ingredients that can soothe your dog’s dry, itchy skin. These include:

  • Colloidal Oatmeal. This is one of the most popular natural ingredients for hydration. Studies have shown that oatmeal has several benefits for skin and hair, including anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. It also provides sustained moisturizing benefits and creates a protective barrier on the skin. To find out more, why not read our guide to the best oatmeal dog shampoos.
  • Shea Butter. This natural fat, which comes from the African Shea Tree, is known for its moisturizing, anti-inflammatory and hair strengthening benefits. It can also help to reduce irritation.
  • Aloe Vera. This plant extract has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been shown to be an effective moisturizer and antiseptic, with beneficial healing properties. It’s unsafe for dogs to eat, but the small quantities in shampoo won’t pose a risk.
  • Vitamin E. This ingredient helps improve the condition of the skin in dog’s suffering from dermatitis. Vitamin E is also an excellent moisturizer, helps to reduce itching, and may promote faster wound healing.
  • Coconut Oil. When topically applied, coconut oil is believed to help reduce inflammation, hydrate the skin and promote wound healing. Studies suggest it may also have antifungal properties, making it a useful ingredient in a dog shampoo.

There are a variety of other ingredients found in dog shampoos. These include essential oils, tea tree oil, and various natural oils. The five above are probably the most important natural options for itch relief though.

Minimal Ingredients

If your dog has skin allergies or sensitivities, a shampoo with minimal ingredients reduces the chance of a reaction. And, if your dog does have a reaction, it’s easier to work out what’s causing it when there are fewer ingredients.

Choosing a soap-free shampoo can also help to reduce irritation to your dog’s coat and skin. Additionally, never use a human shampoo on a dog, as canines require a different pH balance.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals and Artificial Dyes

Where possible, selecting a shampoo with natural and gentle ingredients is recommended.

Human and dog shampoos commonly contain ingredients like sulfates and parabens. These chemically derived cleansers and preservatives can be harsh on your dog’s coat and skin. Even for dogs without allergies or sensitivities, they can cause irritation and dryness. 

If the ingredients are vague, this should also be a red flag. It’s not uncommon to see ‘fragrance’ listed on the label. This makes it hard to know if the scent is chemically-derived, or made from something that might be an irritant for your dog.

Tip: To learn more about the best dog shampoos, you may want to read our full guide.

5 Best Moisturizing Dog Shampoos for Itching

Listed below are five shampoos that may help itching. They all contain moisturizing ingredients and are largely natural, making them great choices for dogs with itchy skin caused by general dryness.

A dog shampoo for itching is not, however, designed to treat fungal conditions, get rid of parasites, manage allergies, or treat underlying conditions. For these conditions, you’ll need to consult a vet and choose a medicated shampoo.

1. Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe All Natural Shampoo

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe

The Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo is our top pick for an anti-itch shampoo. This 100% natural option contains colloidal oatmeal, aloe and vitamin E, all known for their moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Earthbath use natural and gentle coconut-based cleansers in their shampoos. Coconut oil is also great for hydration and can reduce inflammation.

I love that Earthbath are such an ethical company. Along with using only natural ingredients, they’re biodegradable and vegan-friendly. I also like the mild scent, which means your dog’s sensitive nose won’t be overwhelmed.

If you have a dog with known allergies or sensitivities, it’s a shame the ingredient label only lists ‘natural preservatives’, rather than specifying exactly what they use. If you know substances trigger a flare-up, you can’t accurately check the ingredient list because of this generic listing.

For most dogs, however, the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe is a brilliant shampoo for skin dryness and itching. 

2. Burt’s Bees Natural Itch Soothing Shampoo with Honeysuckle

Burt's Bees for Dogs

The Burt’s Bee Natural Itch Shampoo is another that contains (mainly) natural and minimal ingredients.

Like the Earthbath shampoo, Burt’s Bees has colloidal oats for their soothing and moisturizing properties. Beeswax and honeysuckle can also reduce inflammation and provide relief from itching.

The honey in this shampoo could help to hydrate your dog’s skin and coat, and it has natural conditioning properties. This makes it an appealing choice if you have a long-haired breed that is prone to knots and tangles, as it might make it easier to run a brush through after bathing. Honey is also thought to strengthen the coat and boost shine.

Unlike the Earthbath Shampoo, Burt’s Bees don’t use 100% natural ingredients. Don’t panic, though, as their products are pretty close (99.7% natural.)

Keep in mind that this shampoo is not suitable for vegan dog owners, as it contains honey and beeswax.

3. Wahl Dry Skin and Itch Relief Pet Oatmeal Shampoo

Wahl Shampoo

The Wahl Dry Skin and Itch Relief shampoo contains soothing oatmeal and aloe vera, making it a good choice for dogs whose skin needs moisturizing. It’s great that the shampoo contains gentle coconut-based cleansers, rather than harsh sulfates, as these can also hydrate dry skin.

Glycerin is also used in the Wahl Dry Skin and Itch Relief shampoo. This is a common ingredient in moisturizing products, as it provides natural hydration and may promote healing. It can also improve the skin’s barrier function, which provides additional protection against irritants. 

The shampoos pleasant fragrance isn’t too strong – it’s just a shame Wahl doesn’t specify what it’s derived from. Although Wahl claim their ingredients are 100% natural, they only list ‘fragrance’.

This isn’t ideal for dogs that have sensitive skin and are prone to flare-ups. It makes it difficult to establish what might be triggering a reaction. The shampoo also contains unspecified natural colorings, which are often an unnecessary ingredient.

4. 4Legger Organic All Natural Pet Shampoo with Lemongrass

4legger

The 4Legger Organic All Natural Shampoo contains natural, gentle and minimal ingredients. This version doesn’t have oatmeal, like the other products we have reviewed, but it contains ingredients known to be beneficial for dogs with dry and itchy skin. 

The coconut oil, for example, has moisturizing and healing properties. It also contains aloe vera, which has anti-inflammatory properties that are great for soothing dry and irritated skin.

Other potentially beneficial ingredients in 4Legger include:

  • Jojoba oil is known for being a gentle and non-irritating ingredient. It also has hydrating, antibacterial and healing properties.
  • Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties that can help provide relief from itching. 
  • Rosemary is thought to help stimulate hair growth. If your dog has suffered hair loss as a result of their dry skin condition, this could be helpful.

As an ethical consumer, the 4Legger range appeals to me as they use biodegradable and vegan-friendly ingredients. There are also no unnecessary fragrance-only ingredients, although the lemongrass and rosemary scent won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

Keep in mind that 4Legger doesn’t contain artificial thickening agents. This is great for minimising ingredients, but you might find it’s a little runnier than traditional shampoos. For best effect, thoroughly soak your dog before application to help generate a good lather. 

5. Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo

Vet's Best Hypoallergenic

If your dog has sensitive skin, which is causing dryness and itching, the Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo could be a good choice.  It has just four main ingredients, which could minimize the chance of your dog having a flare-up during bathtime.

Along with the moisturizing and soothing properties of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, this shampoo contains allantoin. This is a common ingredient in gentle moisturizing products.

Allantoin tends to be a non-irritant, so there’s little chance it will trigger a reaction. It’s hydrating and will help to relieve dryness. If your dog’s skin is sore and inflamed, this ingredient can also promote healing.

The Vet’s Best shampoo also contains Panthenol, which is a form of Vitamin B-5. Panthenol has soothing and anti-irritant properties, making it a good choice for itchy skin. It’s also useful for long-haired breeds, as it softens hair and makes the coat easier to brush.

Like the 4Legger Shampoo, the Vet’s Best is a little runnier than brands that use chemical thickening agents. It doesn’t produce a heavy lather either. Providing you thoroughly soak your dog before application, it still cleans well and I think it gives the coat a healthy shine. 

Summary

Persistent itching should always be discussed with your vet. But if itching is caused by dry skin, a high-quality anti-itch shampoo can help.

I think the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo is the best option for itchiness. This shampoo contains minimal and gentle ingredients that are 100% natural. The colloidal oatmeal, aloe and vitamin E all help to hydrate and repair your dog’s skin. 

Do you have any questions about choosing the best dog shampoo for itchy skin? Let me know in the comments section below.

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About The Author: Gemma Johnstone

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.