If you’re looking for a soothing and moisturizing shampoo for your dog, selecting one containing oatmeal could be a good choice. Here are four of the best oatmeal dog shampoos, along with tips for choosing the right option for your pet.
This article will explain what to look for in a good oatmeal shampoo, what oatmeal’s specific benefits are, and four of the best oatmeal shampoos for dogs, to allow you to make an informed choice.
A soothing colloidal oatmeal shampoo
The Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe is my top pick for an oatmeal dog shampoo. It’s a high-quality product containing colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera and vitamin E, so it’s great for soothing irritated skin.
Oats (Avena Sativa) are regarded as one of the healthiest whole cereal grains. In recent years, their popularity has exploded, as several studies have uncovered just how beneficial they can be nutritionally and topically.
Oatmeal is a processed, rolled form of the grain that has been thinly cut, making it easier to cook and more water-soluble.
In its water-soluble form (often referred to as colloidal), studies have shown that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. It can be beneficial for use on dogs as well as humans.
If your dog has itchy or dry skin, this can lead to excessive scratching and discomfort.
Oatmeal contains phenols and avenanthramides, which are natural anti-inflammatories. A colloidal solution can provide temporary relief by reducing skin irritation, relieving itchiness and moisturizing the skin.
Of course, if your dog is experiencing prolonged or severe skin problems, you should always seek advice from your vet to understand if there is an underlying cause. Sometimes itchy skin is caused by dermatitis, parasites or even infections, which need additional treatment.
Tip: If your dog suffers from dandruff, take a look at our guide to dandruff dog shampoos.
Harsh chemicals can disrupt the ‘acid mantle’ of your dog’s skin. The acid mantle is a protective layer on the skin surface that helps to preserve natural pH levels. A functioning mantle helps prevent vulnerability to bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Colloidal oatmeal has been shown in studies to create a stronger protective barrier. It allows the skin to heal, while being gentle enough to avoid disrupting your dog’s natural skin pH balance.
If your dog has a skin allergy, it’s important to visit a vet to establish what’s causing the problem. Drilling down with exclusion diets and removing common irritants from the environment can help discover the trigger.
It’s useful to have a shampoo that can provide relief during flare-ups though. Oatmeal has been proven to have a soothing effect on conditions like dermatitis. Using a shampoo that contains oatmeal can help your dog feel more comfortable while washing away potential irritants from the skin.
Of course, every dog is different, and any ingredient can prove to be an irritant to individual dogs – even natural ones like oatmeal. You should always patch test on a small area of the body before using it all over, to ensure it’s not likely to cause further irritation to your pooch.
Hot spots are localized areas of inflammation on your dog’s skin that can be aggravated by itching and scratching. They can either be one-off or a regular occurrence, depending on if the hot spot is caused by an underlying condition or allergy.
While progressive or recurring hot spots absolutely merit a trip to the vet, bathing using an oatmeal shampoo can provide temporary relief. It can also help with the healing process.
Even if your dog doesn’t have particularly sensitive or irritated skin, selecting a shampoo that contains oatmeal is still beneficial for any dog.
When grain has been ground up finely and suspended in liquid, this is referred to as colloidal oatmeal. This method allows it to be absorbed into the skin more effectively, and so the beneficial properties of the oats will be more apparent.
While non-colloidal oatmeal may have some benefit to your dog’s skin, the best oatmeal shampoos contain colloidal oats.
Not all oatmeal shampoos are equal. Ideally, you want the oatmeal solution to be a colloidal one, as this allows it to absorb into the skin more effectively.
It should also contain other beneficial and natural ingredients. Examples include vitamin E for moisturising and aloe vera for its soothing properties.
Where possible, you should avoid chemical ingredients. Components such as sulfates and parabens, which are commonly used as cleansers and preservatives, can be harsh and are more likely to cause irritation to the skin. Soap-free shampoos are also a good choice.
Unscented or mildly scented shampoos are also a better choice for most dogs. Excessive fragrances are unnecessary and could be overpowering for your dog’s sensitive sense of smell.
Often shampoos that are labelled as tearless and hypoallergenic can be gentler, but given that these terms are unregulated, you can’t rely on them entirely. You should always take the time to check the ingredients listed before making a decision.
Here are four of our top picks for an oatmeal shampoo for dogs. While each contains oatmeal, the other ingredients vary, so it’s important to read each review to find the right option for your pet.
The Earthbath is our top pick for an oatmeal shampoo. It provides great value, contains colloidal oatmeal for maximum benefit, and has a variety of other beneficial ingredients.
Along with colloidal oatmeal, this shampoo contains coconut-based cleansers. The science around the benefits of coconut for the skin and coat is not as conclusive as oatmeal (yet.) But it’s thought to have excellent moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Aloe vera is another key ingredient. This can be toxic for dogs if eaten in large quantities, but when applied to the skin it helps to soothe irritation. Aloe may also have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Additionally, the Earthbath shampoo contains vitamins that provide a host of benefits. The inclusion of vitamin E is particularly good for dogs with sensitive skin. Vitamin E has even been shown to provide relief for conditions like dermatitis in dogs.
A bonus is that the shampoo is 100% natural, has minimal and biodegradable ingredients, and is vegan-friendly.
Although it’s completely natural, it’s a shame the manufacturer doesn’t list exactly what they use for preservatives. They only use a generic ‘natural preservative’ description. If your dog has allergies, this means you can’t guarantee the shampoo won’t contain something that could cause a flare-up.
Burt’s Bees All Natural is another shampoo with (nearly) all-natural ingredients. It contains colloidal oat flour for its soothing properties, along with several other beneficial ingredients.
This shampoo includes coco-betaine and coco-glucoside. Unlike sulfate-based chemicals, these natural surfactants are gentler on the skin. They also have excellent cleansing properties, produce a good lather, and coco-glucoside moisturizes the hair and skin too.
Other ingredients include honey, a natural moisturiser, and green tea for strengthening your dog’s hair and promoting growth. This combination makes it a particularly good choice for protecting the coats of breeds with thin, delicate hair.
You also don’t need to worry about this shampoo being too runny, as it contains xanthan gum. This is a natural thickener with hydrating properties.
The Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo features natural ingredients that come in eco-friendly bottles. It’s also made in the USA.
If your dog is prone to allergic flare-ups, it’s worth noting that this shampoo does have more ingredients than some of the others on our recommended list. This increases the chance of there being an ingredient that could cause a problem. It doesn’t contain parabens, petroleum, synthetic fragrances or phthalates though, making it a relatively gentle choice.
If you have a particularly whiffy pup, or one that regularly likes to roll in unpleasant things, this odor neutralizing oatmeal shampoo from Nature’s Miracle may appeal.
Along with colloidal oatmeal and plant-derived odor control ingredients, it contains chamomile extract which can be useful for its strengthening and soothing properties. Vitamin B is also good for promoting hair growth.
It lathers up well and is effective at removing stubborn smells, although not everyone will like the arguably chemical-smelling fragrance.
Disappointingly, this brand uses terms like ‘fragrance’ and ‘rinsing and conditioning agents,’ rather than giving the full ingredient list. Although they don’t use dyes or parabens, the lack of transparency means you can’t check individual ingredients. This could be a particular problem for dogs with sensitive skin.
Oster Oatmeal Essentials shampoo contains aloe vera, chamomile and coconut-based cleansers. Along with colloidal oatmeal, these are all appealing for their soothing and moisturizing properties.
It also has a pleasant smell and lathers up nicely. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap colloidal oatmeal shampoo, it could be one to consider.
Unfortunately, Oster’s labelling isn’t as transparent as other brands we’ve reviewed. The shampoo doesn’t contain any parabens, alcohol or dyes, but the ingredient list isn’t complete. It has things like ‘thickening agent’ and ‘fragrance and preservatives’, without detailing what these are. For dogs with particularly sensitive skin, or if you want reassurances of the exact ingredients, this isn’t helpful.
Still, the shampoo can certainly do a decent job of soothing a dog’s skin, due to the beneficial ingredients and colloidal oatmeal.
You absolutely can. Making your own colloidal oatmeal bath for your dog can be helpful if you don’t want to introduce too many other ingredients. DIY pet shampoos can also save money and are probably more sustainable.
The American Kennel Club suggests a simple but effective recipe which you can follow. All you need is one cup of uncooked oatmeal, a half cup of baking soda, and one quart of warm water.
Note: The baking soda used in this recipe is a natural cleanser, but it’s quite abrasive, so you shouldn’t use it too frequently. There’s a risk it could start to dry out the coat and skin. If you’re concerned, you could simply use the oats and water on their own. This will have all the soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits – it just won’t offer many benefits in terms of cleaning.
If you have a dog that suffers from dry and irritated skin, an oatmeal shampoo can provide soothing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing benefits.
Our top pick oatmeal shampoo is the all-natural option from Earthbath. It also contains aloe vera and vitamin E, which are both known for helping to relieve itchy skin. Importantly for this article, it also contains colloidal oatmeal, which is the most beneficial form for skin health.
Of course, it’s still important to seek advice from your vet if your dog’s skin problems are severe or recurring.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best oatmeal dog shampoo for your pet. If you have any further queries, please reach out using our comments form.