A Simple Way to Choose the Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

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Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

Dogs could have bad skin reactions to shampoo just like humans. Certain medical conditions, like allergies, can cause your dog’s skin to be intolerant of common chemicals found in dog shampoos.

If your dog is prone to biting and itching after a bath, he or she is in need of a shampoo formula designed for sensitive skin.

Read this article for suggestions for the best dog shampoo for sensitive skin.

Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

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What is Sensitive Skin in Dogs?

Sensitive skin in dogs is treatable, but not necessarily curable. You might say your dog has sensitive skin if it’s prone to itchiness, inflammation, or dryness. Certain things can trigger your dog’s skin sensitivity, such as the environment or grooming products like shampoos.

Some dog breeds may be prone to sensitive skin compared to others. For example, Labradors, Terriers, and Maltese breeds are more likely to have sensitive skin. If your dog has a white coat, it might be prone to sensitive skin reactions as well.

Identifying a dog with a sensitive skin condition is relatively easy. These symptoms are major indications of sensitive skin:

  • Constant itching, especially after baths. Itching occurs even after flea treatment.
  • Dry skin prone to flakiness. Check under the coat for furry dogs.
  • Reddish skin that looks inflamed.
  • Red bumps or weeping areas on skin.
  • Hot spots. These are open sores on skin that the dog keeps scratching.
  • Stomach irritation.

Dogs can have sensitive skin if they are prone to allergies. Several factors can contribute to chronically sensitive skin, such as dust mites or pollen in the environment. Fleas and food allergies are major contributors as well.

Owners must take particular care when buying grooming products for dogs with sensitive skin. Shampoos top this list. Dogs with sensitive skin can react very badly to the various chemicals present in regular dog shampoos. Reactions can include skin inflammation or redness, itching, biting, scratching, and dry skin after baths.

You should get a shampoo with a specialized formula for sensitive skin if your dog suffers from this condition. Sensitive skin shampoos can manage irritated skin, and may even help soothe and calm itching reactions.

How is Sensitive Skin Dog Shampoo Different from Regular Shampoo?

It’s all in the ingredients list. Sensitive skin dog shampoos come with a significantly different ingredients list compared to regular dog shampoo. Notably, sensitive skin formulas contain fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients.

Good dog shampoo for sensitive skin would have a shorter ingredients list. More ingredients usually mean the manufacturer is using a lot of preservatives, thickeners, and other chemicals that your dog may not tolerate well.

Here are some common features of a good sensitive skin dog shampoo:

Free from Harsh Chemicals

All shampoos contain some type of chemicals to cleanse and remove dirt. Shampoos, for pets as well as humans, contain certain chemicals that strip the natural moisture as well as dirt, off the skin. Owners of dogs with sensitive skin should watch out for such ingredients.

One of the biggest culprits in this regard is sodium laureth sulfate. This chemical doesn’t cleanse skin. Rather, it’s a detergent used to form the bubbly lather in dog shampoos. The chemical can cause drying on the skin, even if your dog’s skin is not sensitive. In dogs with sensitive skin, the results can be disastrous and cause flaking and itching.

Another major red flag chemical is perfume, which may get listed as perfume or fragrance. As the name indicates, it’s what gives dog shampoo its scent. It may sound harmless, but perfume is more often than not a concoction of undisclosed chemicals. It can easily trigger reactions in sensitive skin.

There are other chemicals, like parabens, that are known to be bad for sensitive skin. A good dog shampoo for sensitive skin would be free of such chemicals.


Dog shampoo formulas that are hypoallergenic are well-suited for pets with sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic means the formula is free of chemicals known to cause allergic reactions, such as perfume, as discussed above.

Hypoallergenic formulas are not necessarily sensitive skin dog shampoos, but it’s a feature you should look for in these types of dog shampoos.

pH Balanced Formula

The pH level of any liquid refers to how acidic or basic it is. In simple English, a pH balanced shampoo formula doesn’t cause excessive drying on the skin. Dogs with sensitive skin itch or scratch after baths with regular shampoo because of this drying reaction. You can use a pH-balanced formula to mitigate symptoms like this.

Ingredients in Sensitive Skin Dog Shampoos

Let’s look at some of the common ingredients found in dog shampoos for sensitive skin. Manufacturers often claim that these ingredients help soothe and calm irritated and sensitive skin. At least, such ingredients do not cause negative reactions like harsh chemicals mentioned above.


Glycerin is a cleaner. It’s better-suited for sensitive skin types because glycerin doesn’t cause a harsh drying effect. Glycerin can remove dirt and oils without also stripping the natural layer of moisture on the skin.


Oatmeal is a popular natural alternative to synthetic cleansers in dog shampoos. Oatmeal is a mild cleanser. It’s also believed to offer other benefits, such as having a calming effect on irritated skin. Oatmeal-based dog shampoos may help reduce redness and itchiness of sensitive skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a very popular organic soothing agent. People use aloe to moisturize skin and also soothe burns, cuts, scrapes, and redness. It may have the same effect on dogs. Sensitive skin dog shampoos commonly contain aloe vera as a moisturizer and a calming agent.

Oil Extracts

You may notice various oil extracts listed in sensitive dog shampoo formulas. Manufacturers may list oil extracts as moisturizers or soothing agents in dog shampoos. More effectively, though, various natural oil extracts may give dog shampoos an aroma without using perfume.


Various vitamins—mainly vitamin B and E—end up on dog formula ingredients lists. The shampoo maker may claim various perks usually associated with the nutritional benefits of these vitamins.

It’s important to note that your dog doesn’t benefit from having vitamins applied to its skin. Your doggo only needs to eat foods with vitamins to have a healthy skin and coat. These vitamin listings are therefore mostly empty claims. However, there’s no harm in buying a dog shampoo with vitamins in the ingredients list.

What’s the Difference between Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin and Medicated Dog Shampoo?

Don’t conflate sensitive skin dog shampoo with medicated shampoo. The latter contains medicine. For example, medicated dog shampoos may have ingredients to kill fleas, control ticks, or treat dandruff. These shampoos thus require veterinary approval to use.

Sensitive skin dog shampoos do not contain medical ingredients. As mentioned above, these shampoos mostly lack chemicals that result in sensitive skin reactions. Avoid using sensitive skin dog shampoos to treat parasites or dandruff in your dog. If you are not sure which type of shampoo your dog needs, consult a veterinarian for professional advice.

Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin Reviews

Here are some of the top sensitive skin dog shampoos:

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Earthbath promises a doggie shampoo containing only natural, biodegradable ingredients. This shampoo is recommended for doggies whose skins get easily irritated by regular shampoo. The formula contains plenty of soothing ingredients to prevent the nasty biting and scratching reactions a bath with a regular shampoo could cause.

This dog shampoo is free of soap. That is, it doesn’t contain harsh sulfates that usually cause skin irritation and redness. Regardless, this shampoo lathers up really nicely. You can use the same amount as a regular shampoo to get a foamy lather.

To directly address dry, itchy skin in pet dogs, about 3 percent of this shampoo is oatmeal. It also includes aloe vera to moisturize the coat and prevent dryness. You can expect a pH balanced, hypoallergenic formula.

Interestingly enough, this shampoo is very fragrant, though no perfume is listed among the ingredients. The lovely aroma comes from natural vanilla extracts. It’s surprisingly good at getting rid of funky dog smells.

There’s a minor downside though. The shampoo leaves some residue after a single rinse, perhaps because of all the natural ingredients. Rinse your dog more than once, or more thoroughly than usual, to completely get the shampoo off the coat.

This shampoo is largely pain-free to use. The only precaution mentioned on the bottle is to avoid contact with the eyes. If the shampoo does get in your pet’s eye, immediately wash it off with water. You can use this shampoo to moisturize your dog’s coat and reduce skin redness.

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This all-natural dog formula has multipurpose uses. The shampoo includes conditioner that you can use to either kill or deter fleas (but note this is not a flea-killing medicated shampoo formula). The product is wholly made in the USA, according to the label.

This dog shampoo is pH balanced for pets with sensitive skin. It contains zero percent soap, alcohol, sulfates, or perfume. The natural ingredients listed include aloe vera, oatmeal, and almond oil. These ingredients are considered to be soothing on irritated skin and may have a therapeutic effect on pets suffering from skin conditions.

The manufacturer recommends the shampoo for dogs who are allergic to flea bites, food, and grass. The formula is natural, but very effective. It delivers an excellent lather with lots of suds. The natural ingredients are not diluted at all.

The shampoo does take slightly longer to work than most other formulas, however. The instructions on the bottle say your dog’s coat should be lathered up with the shampoo and then left on for about 5 minutes. This allows the conditioner to take effect. After 5 minutes, you can rinse it off as usual.

The shampoo cleanses and leaves your dog’s coat free of dirt and other gunk. The formula smells great out of the bottle. But no strong fragrance is left on the skin, which sometimes irritates pets. The conditioner leaves fur feeling soft and fluffy. The formula would work well for pets that love to play in the dirt but can’t withstand professional grooming shampoos.

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The main 4 features of this formula are cleaning, conditioning, detangling, and moisturizing. This shampoo could have a calming effect on dogs who suffer from allergies, irritable skin, dandruff, or flea or tick infections.

The formula contains natural, plant-based ingredients like lavender and chamomile. This formula is PEG-80 free. The number refers to a chemical called sorbitan laurate. Though it’s found in cosmetic products, it may pose a health hazard. For animals and humans with sensitive skin, PEG-80 found in regular shampoo could cause an allergy-like reaction.

The calming formula doesn’t contain alcohol or parabens, to reduce the risk of a skin reaction. It’s also pH balanced, so your pet’s coat is less likely to dry out after a bath. Dog owners should be aware that this formula contains fragrance, the chemical concoction some dogs with sensitive skin don’t tolerate well.

Overall, this dog shampoo is well-suited for cleaning dry and matted coats. It lathers well and you won’t have to use copious amounts of liquid. One rinse is usually enough to get all the soapy residue out. Afterward, the formula promises that your dog’s sensitive skin won’t be inflamed. If your dog is already itching a lot, you can try using this shampoo to reduce irritation.

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Moosh dog shampoo is made from lots of natural ingredients. Interestingly enough, this is a “clay based” dog shampoo. The formula uses Bentonite clay the same way ancient Greeks used clay to cleanse themselves. Based on this theory, Moosh claims its formula is less harsh but equally cleansing as factory-chemical based dog shampoos.

The formula comes pH balanced for sensitive doggie skin. It’s suited for dogs who may have red bumps or hives due to skin irritations caused by reactions. It’s not suited for dogs with dandruff or tick bites. This is not a medicated shampoo.

The dog shampoo is free of most chemicals that result in harsh skin reactions, such as alcohol, sulfates, parabens, and certain preservatives. The formula is hypoallergenic. What’s really exciting about this is the unusual natural ingredients included. Rarely for dog shampoo, this product includes Argan oil and Neem to soothe skin and soften coats, according to the product label.

The Bentonite clay cleanses the coat. The Neem oil moisturizes it, and the Argan oil gives the fur a natural-looking shine. For more skin soothing, the formula contains nutmeg and rosemary as well. But the cherry on top is Vetiver, a naturally-derived antiseptic that can remove irritants from your dog’s skin.

This dog shampoo is available in a highly concentrated formula. You would have to dilute it properly to avoid using too much. In sensitive dogs, too much shampoo of any kind can lead to more inflammation and redness.

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This sensitive skin dog shampoo is made with three things in mind: clean, moisturize, and detangle. This shampoo is suitable for dogs with all types of coats who suffer from allergies and sensitive skin. Even German Shepherds, notorious for their smelly coats, can benefit.

This dog shampoo is labeled as soap-free. But users should be aware that it contains sodium laureth sulfate, the chemical present in most shampoos to create a lather. It’s wholly paraben-free. The formula also contains fragrance, which some dogs may find irritating.

The formula also contains a number of natural ingredients. Notably, extracts for oatmeal, aloe, and rosemary. Plus, it comes with vitamin E and Shea butter. The natural ingredients claim to reduce skin irritation during bath times, and afterward, moisturize the coat and soothe the skin. In addition to moisturizers like Shea butter, the formula includes dimethicone. It’s a type of silicone found in moisturizers to deliver the intended effect.

This shampoo can deodorize your dog’s coat and make it softer. The fragrance is not overwhelming unlike in some formulas. It can be quite hydrating for pets with irritable skin. However, the effects may vary between individual dogs.

Do note that this shampoo only soothes a dog’s skin. It does not provide actual itch relief.

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The 4-Legger shampoo formula is made with ingredients certified organic by the USDA. The formula is hypoallergenic, nontoxic, sulfate-free, paraben-free, and detergent-free as well. In other words, it does not contain most chemicals found in regular dog shampoos that cause reactions in sensitive skin.

The eco-friendly ingredients can act as a flea deterrent as well. Keep in mind, though, this is not a flea treatment shampoo. It’s best used to wash dogs who react badly to regular doggie shampoo.

This dog shampoo may offer relief from irritated, dry, and itchy skin. It can also re-moisturize dry skin and make coats shinier. However, don’t expect miracles. You may need to use this shampoo several times to experience the advantages. You may benefit most by gradually switching to this shampoo to make bath times less stressful.

The 4-Legger formula has a gently fragrant as well. The scent is not derived from chemicals but from natural oil extracts. The lemongrass scent can obscure the rather overwhelming dog smells without overpowering your dog’s natural scent.

Plus, a small amount of this shampoo can go a long way. The shampoo is available in a concentrated formula. It’s not diluted and doesn’t use any chemical thickeners. A dollop is enough to wash a medium-sized dog.


Now you know what the best shampoos are for dogs with sensitive skin. All the products listed above have specific benefits for sensitive dog skin. But the clear winner is Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo, with 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo following closely behind.

Earthbath is guaranteed to be free of sulfates and harsh chemicals that sensitive skin reacts badly to. In comparison, other highly rated sensitive skin shampoos contain some perfume and sulfates. Earthbath has a very short ingredients list, nearly all of it being natural and organic.

As mentioned in the guidelines above, the best sensitive skin dog shampoos are hypoallergenic, pH balanced and have organic soothing ingredients. Earthbath has all these covered.

Of course, your dog may tolerate another shampoo on the list better than Eathbath. You can try one or two products and decide which one your dog likes better.

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API