Puppies have delicate skin and a softer coat than adult dogs, so a mild puppy-specific shampoo can be important. Here are five of the best puppy shampoos, along with tips for choosing the right option.
Adult dog shampoos can sometimes be too harsh for a puppy’s soft skin though. Several companies now produce ultra-mild puppy shampoos, to make bathing more comfortable for your young pup.
In this guide, we’ll explain why a puppy-specific shampoo is helpful, what to look for in a high-quality product, and suggest four of the best puppy shampoos available at the moment.
Gentle shampoo that soothes the skin
Our top pick for a puppy dog shampoo is the Earthbath Ultra Mild. It’s a gentle shampoo that combines coconut-based ingredients with aloe vera and various vitamins, so it’s great for kindly washing your puppy’s coat.
In short, yes. It’s often best to use a specially-formulated puppy shampoo for young dogs. Why is this though?
Firstly, human shampoos aren’t suitable for washing your puppy.
Human shampoos are designed for skin that’s more acidic than our canine companions. By using it on your puppy, you may disrupt the more alkaline ‘acid mantle’ – the protective pH layer that covers the skin. This could cause dryness and irritation, and even make your puppy more susceptible to picking up viruses and bacteria.
Many human shampoos also contain ingredients that can be harmful or irritating to dogs. These harsh chemicals may strip a dog’s coat of natural oils.
What about regular dog shampoos?
Some adult dog shampoos may be suitable for puppies. You should always check the label to see what age they are recommended for, and stick with those that have natural and gentle ingredients.
I recommend using a puppy shampoo until your dog gets his adult coat though. These shampoos are specially formulated for a puppy’s soft skin and fur. They contain gentler ingredients that minimise the chance of causing irritation or dryness, without stripping the coat of vital oils.
Unless directed by your vet, you shouldn’t use medicated shampoos or those designed to kill parasites, like fleas, on a young puppy.
These shampoos are often not suitable for puppies under 12 weeks old – and some require your dog to be over six months. The medical ingredients are just too strong for your pup’s sensitive skin.
If your young dog has an issue with their skin, such as fleas, you should always seek advice from your vet for a treatment plan.
There are some key things to look for when selecting a good puppy shampoo. These include:
Some puppy shampoos are described as ‘tearless’, meaning their ingredients are less likely to cause irritation if they accidentally get into the eyes of a wiggly pup.
Of course, you want to avoid this happening, as any shampoo can cause discomfort if it goes in the eye. I recommend cleaning your puppy’s face with a damp cloth separately from bath time, to avoid getting shampoo in the eye.
If your dog has a skin condition, such as fungal infections, allergies or seborrhea, they may need a prescribed medicated shampoo. Diagnosis and treatment by a vet will be required. If you notice severe or prolonged symptoms like scratching, hot spots or dry skin, don’t delay in seeking advice.
Listed below are four of our best puppy shampoo reviews, along with tips for choosing the right option for your pet.
This popular puppy shampoo from Earthbath is our top recommendation. It’s a gentle shampoo that’s great for bathing a puppy without causing irritation. It also contains ingredients that soothe your puppy’s coat and moisturize the skin.
The Earthbath Natural Puppy Shampoo contains coconut-based ingredients, and these can be beneficial for moisturising skin. It also contains aloe vera. Although this can be problematic for dogs if eaten, it has soothing and antibacterial properties when applied topically.
The addition of vitamins A, B, D and E has a variety of potential benefits. Vitamin E, in particular, is known for promoting healthy dog skin and coats. Studies have shown that it can also be beneficial for dogs with atopic dermatitis.
It’s also a convenient shampoo to use. The natural cherry fragrance isn’t too overpowering for your sensitive puppy, and a little goes a long way with this product.
One downside is that the ingredient list isn’t fully transparent. This could be an issue if you have a pup with allergies. An example is the ‘gentle conditioner & detangler.’ This could be great if you have a long-haired pup whose coat is prone to getting tangled, but the label doesn’t specify exactly what’s in it.
Even so, we think the Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo is the best shampoo for puppies.
Note: All Earthbath’s products contain natural, biodegradable ingredients and are vegan-friendly. They are also made in the USA.
If you have a long-haired puppy, or a breed that’s prone to getting knots and tangles, then selecting a shampoo with conditioning properties can be helpful. Conditioners can soften and moisturise the coat, making it easier to pull a brush through after bathing.
The Burt’s Bees All-Natural Tearless for Puppies is a good option in this category. It contains natural ingredients, is made in the USA, and comes in environmentally friendly bamboo and post-consumer recycled bottles. It also leaves your puppy’s coat feeling soft, shiny, and healthy.
This shampoo contains coco-betaine and coco-glucoside. Both are natural surfactants that are gentler than the chemical, sulfate-based ones commonly found in shampoo products. They help to effectively clean the hair and ensure a good lather. Coco-glucoside also has conditioning properties, hence the 2-in-1 nature of Burt’s Bees for Puppies.
Other beneficial ingredients include honey, linseed oil and buttermilk powder. Linseed oil is believed to promote healthy and strong hair. Honey is a natural moisturiser and conditioner, and the buttermilk helps soften and nourish your dog’s coat.
It does have considerably more ingredients than the Earthbath shampoo though. So, if your pup has sensitive skin or allergies, you may want to choose a puppy shampoo with fewer ingredients.
If your pup has sensitive skin, it’s sensible to stick with a shampoo that doesn’t use harsh chemicals and has a minimal ingredient list. This reduces the chance of an allergic reaction and makes it easier to identify problematic ingredients.
The Tropiclean puppy shampoo has just five mild and natural ingredients, so it’s great for puppies with sensitive skin.
It’s made with a combination of coconut cleanser, aloe vera and vitamin E, to soothe and nourish skin. It also contains Avena Sativa Oatmeal. This may reduce skin inflammation, itchiness and other dermal conditions.
It doesn’t have a strong scent, which means your dog won’t be overpowered. But, if you want your pup to smell super fresh, this may not be your preferred choice.
The Sofee & Co puppy shampoo is an all-natural and cruelty-free option that’s made in the USA. It contains oatmeal for its ability to soothe dry or flaky skin, plus the shampoo may help reduce tangles.
Along with the moisturising properties of oatmeal, the Sofee & Co contains a host of other beneficial ingredients. These include:
A downside is that the Sofee & Co Natural Puppy Shampoo has the most ingredients of all those on our list, so it may not be a great choice if your pooch has sensitive skin. It also lists ‘parfum’ as one of the ingredients, but doesn’t specify exactly what this is made from.
If you’re looking for an oatmeal dog shampoo that’s suitable for puppies, however, it’s an option to consider.
While baby shampoos often contain gentler ingredients than those designed for adult humans, they still aren’t formulated for dogs.
It’s important to remember that human shampoos are formulated for much more frequent use and could also contain ingredients that are safe for humans, but toxic for dogs. They may also affect the pH levels of your puppy’s skin.
While using a puppy conditioner isn’t essential for most dog breeds, it can be helpful if you have a pup with a long coat that’s prone to tangling. Conditioners moisturise and soften the hair, which makes brushing out tangles easier. They can also soothe dry skin.
As with shampoos, look for a conditioner without harsh chemicals and overpowering fragrances. It’s also possible to get 2-in-1 shampoos for puppies. These can be helpful if your pup isn’t keen on being bathed and you don’t want to prolong the experience.
The Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner is our top recommendation for a separate conditioner. It’s one of the best dog conditioners and is suitable for use on puppies over six weeks old. It also contains safe and natural ingredients.
Unless there’s an emergency, it’s best to avoid bathing until a puppy is at least eight to twelve weeks old.
Puppies struggle to regulate their body temperature. They don’t have as much body fat, and their coats tend to be thinner and less water-resistant. This makes it much easier for them to get dangerously cold.
For cleanup jobs before this age, using a damp cloth is a better alternative. When you do introduce a bath, you should dry your puppy as thoroughly as possible. Keep them inside in a warm location until fully dry.
Some shampoos are listed as only being suitable for puppies that are over 12 weeks. You should always check the label before bathing.
This depends on the breed and lifestyle of your dog.
Pups who love to explore the undergrowth or roll in dirt are going to need more frequent bathing. Breeds with lots skin folds, like a Bulldog, may also need more regular bathing to remove odors and bacteria.
Certain medical conditions also require regular medicated baths to keep the problem under control.
Ideally, you don’t want to be washing your dog more than once a month. Overly frequent bathing can strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat and cause dry or irritated skin. This is even more true for puppies, as they have naturally more sensitive skin and delicate coats. If you’re not sure whether your dog is being bathed too frequently, consult a vet or experienced groomer.
It’s vital that bathing is a positive and fun experience for your puppy. A few stressful baths could turn into a lifelong fear of being washed. Here are a few tips:
Tip: Looking for a comfortable bed for your puppy? Check out our guide to the best puppy beds.
A gentle and puppy-specific shampoo can be a worthwhile investment when washing a young dog. Look for one that contains minimal, natural and mild ingredients, and make sure you spend time getting your pup happy to be bathed with lots of positive reinforcement.
Our top pick is the Earthbath Puppy Shampoo. The natural ingredients make it gentle on a puppy’s soft skin, while the aloe vera helps to soothe any irritation. It also contains a combination of vitamins, such as Vitamin E, which are beneficial to your puppy’s coat.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best puppy shampoo for your dog. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section.