What Is The Best Puppy Shampoo? [Reviews & Buyer Guide]

Updated: March 15th, 2022

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best puppy shampoo

Sometimes it can seem like there is a ‘puppy’ version of everything. Puppy food, treats, toys, you name it! But do you really need to be spending more on special products for puppies, or is it all just marketing hype? Well, I can’t speak about the other items for now, but I can assure you that getting the best puppy shampoos for your little pooch is a decision you won’t regret.

AT A GLANCE:
Our 5 Best Puppy Shampoos

Why Use Puppy Shampoos?

IMAGE PRODUCT  
Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo
 
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Long-lasting scent
  • Gentle shampoo
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Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo And Conditioner
 
  • All-natural
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Scented
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Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo With Buttermilk For Dogs
 
  • All-natural
  • Unscented
  • Tearless Shampoo
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Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love Shampoo
 
  • Contains safe ingredients
  • Scented
  • Tearless and mild
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Perfect Coat Pampered Puppy Shampoo
 
  • Contains safe ingredients
  • Scented
  • Easy rinse formula
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When it comes to puppies, it is best to get shampoos specially made for their age. This is because newborn puppies have soft, thin fluffy fur, also known as a “puppy coat.” After some time, this coat is shed and replaced with an adult coat, just the same way they shed and replace their teeth.

Unlike a normal dog coat, a puppy coat is softer and less durable. Also, a newborn puppy’s skin is more sensitive than the skin of adult dogs.  As a result, they do need something a bit different.

But which of the many puppy shampoo products on the market is best?

Read on to discover what I have found to be the five best puppy shampoos on the market, and read the comprehensive buying guide to fully understand what exactly makes a good puppy shampoo.

I’ll also share a few tips on how best to bathe your puppies so bath time can be a no-tears affair!

5 Best Puppy Shampoos: Reviews 

1. Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo – Best Overall

Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo

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Oster has won the hearts of many pet owners, not just with their pet shampoos but also with air conditioners and colognes. Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo doesn’t disappoint, either. It’s formulated with 100% natural ingredients and suited for puppies eight weeks or older.

Product Features

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Long-lasting  scent
  • Gentle shampoo

Oster Oatmeal derives most of its power from wheat protein, rosemary extract, and humectants. These vet-recommended natural ingredients combine to create a formulation that not only moisturizes but also soothes a puppy’s coat and skin, leaving it feeling like a million bucks.

Your pup will also enjoy full protection from germs and other microorganisms that can threaten its wellbeing. Once applied, the solution will get rid of all the dirt keeping your little pooch’s coat from staying clean, healthy, and fresh. This is made possible by the combined power of the shampoo’s natural ingredients and surfactants.

Just as the name says, this product is gentle, even for pups with the most sensitive skin and coats. This can be attributed to the product’s balanced pH and also its lack of dyes, phthalates, parabens, and alcohol. Keep in mind, though, it’s not tear-free, so make sure the formula doesn’t find its way into your pup’s eyes.

Pros

  • pH balanced specifically for puppies
  • 100% biodegradable
  • Cleans and also soothes itchy skin
  • Formulated with natural ingredients
  • Long-lasting baby powder scent
  • Suited for dry or sensitive skin

Cons

  • Not tear-free

Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Shampoo ticks nearly all the boxes when it comes to keeping your puppy’s coat looking and feeling great. It is the ultimate choice if you are looking for a completely natural, low-budget formula that cleans, soothes, and protects a puppy’s skin.

2. Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo And Conditioner – Best Puppy Shampoo And Conditioner

Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo And Conditioner

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If the condition of your puppy’s hair is your top priority, try this two-in-one shampoo and conditioner from Nature’s Miracle.

Product Features

  • All-natural
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Scented

This scented puppy shampoo is formulated to neutralize odors, clean the skin and coat, and moisturize the hair follicles for long-lasting softness. A natural formula based on Coco Glucoside Surfactant, this is a shampoo and conditioner in one that will leave the hair soft and reduce static electricity.

This is another gentle shampoo that will not irritate your puppy’s eyes and won’t wash off any topical flea or tick treatments that are protecting your pooch.

The product does leave behind a ‘fresh spring’ scent, which may linger around your puppy for four to six weeks. While this may help keep odors in check, it may not appeal to all puppies.

Pros

  • Neutralizes odors
  • Conditions hair and reduces static electricity
  • Safe to use with topical flea treatments

Cons

  • The scent may not appeal to all puppies

Keep your puppy’s coat clean and conditioned with this specially formulated good puppy shampoo from Nature’s Miracle.

3. Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo With Buttermilk For Dogs – Best Budget 

Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo With Buttermilk For Dogs

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If you want the best shampoo for your pup but don’t want to pay a ton, then this puppy shampoo from Burt’s Bees is for you.

Product Features

  • All-natural
  • Unscented
  • Tearless Shampoo

Specially formulated to be at the right pH for sensitive pups, this cocoa-based formula is free from sulfates, colorants, and other nasties that might irritate your dog’s skin. It also contains added buttermilk to soothe sensitive skin and honey to lock moisture into the hair follicles. The shampoo does not leave behind any fragrance of its own but eliminates odors effectively.

This formula cleans effectively while being mild enough not to hurt your puppy’s eyes or interfere with any topical flea treatments that may have been used.

While it is pretty impressive that this formula is 97% biodegradable, for the environmentally conscious, that remaining three percent may still cause a twinge of guilt when disposing of used bathwater.

Pros

  • pH balanced for puppies
  • Contains honey and buttermilk to soothe and moisturize
  • Safe to use with topical flea treatments

Cons

  • Only 97% biodegradable

If you are looking for an affordable puppy shampoo that more than does the job, then look no further than Burt’s Bees.

4. Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love Shampoo – Best Vet Formula

Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love Shampoo

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If you want the peace of mind of a vet-recommended product, then you can’t overlook Veterinary Formula Solutions.

Product Features

  • Contains safe ingredients
  • Scented
  • Tearless and mild

While this shampoo does not claim to be all-natural, it does not contain any nasties, such as sulfates, that are dangerous to your young dog. It will leave delicate skin clean and coats soft and fluffy, all while being mild enough not to irritate the eyes or wash away topical flea treatments.

With the right pH balance for puppies, this formula will be kind to their skin, but the scent may not be so kind on their nose. Whether your puppy is happy with this mild scent or not will depend on them.

Pros

  • Vet recommended
  • pH balanced for puppies
  • Safe to use with topical flea treatments

Cons

  • Not all-natural
  • Scented

Bathe your dog with confidence with this vet-recommended shampoo for pups.

5. Perfect Coat Pampered Puppy Shampoo – Best For Fast Bathing

Perfect Coat Pampered Puppy Shampoo

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If you are keen to make bath time as quick and easy as possible, then check out this easy rinse puppy shampoo from Perfect Coat.

Product Features

  • Contains safe ingredients
  • Scented
  • Easy rinse formula

This mild and gentle shampoo, which also won’t irritate eyes or wash away topical flea treatments, is combined with keratin, aloe vera, and jojoba oil. Keratin and jojoba oil condition the coat to leave it soft and fluffy, while aloe vera soothes and moisturizes the underlying skin. The formula only contains ingredients that are safe for your puppy, but some pet owners might not like that it is not 100% natural.

One of the other stand-out characteristics of this formula is that it is easy to rinse, so you don’t have to worry about leaving behind any shampoo residue, and it can cut down bathing time significantly.

The shampoo does leave behind a long-lasting baby powder scent that will likely appeal to pet parents, but some dogs may find it less appealing.

Pros

  • Added keratin, aloe vera, and jojoba oil
  • Easy-rinse formula
  • Safe to use with topical flea treatments

Cons

  • Not all natural
  • The scent may not appeal to some puppies

Cut bath time in half for nervous pups with this easy-rinse shampoo from Perfect Coat.

Puppy Shampoo Buying Guide

Not only is bathing your dog with human shampoo a rather expensive approach (as human hair products tend to be more expensive than their canine alternatives), it will do damage to your dog’s coat over time.

Human hair follicles and canine fur are very different. Most notably, human hair and skin are significantly more acidic, while canine skin and fur are more alkaline. This means shampoos formulated for humans can do damage to your dog’s coat over time.

According to the American Kennel Club:

Using a human shampoo on dogs disrupts the acid mantle, leaving your dog vulnerable to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. It also makes his skin feel dry and flaky, which can lead to repeated scratching and abrasions. This makes it easy for bacteria to invade.

Where humans and dogs are similar is that, just like human babies, puppies need something a bit different from adult dogs. This is because their developing coats tend to be softer and fluffier and therefore need something a bit more gentle.

As puppies grow, they will shed their baby coat—just like they shed their baby teeth—and develop a thicker, more resilient adult coat. Until that time, puppies really need something specially formulated for their skin and hair.

Key Features Best Dog Shampoo For Puppies Have

When it comes to choosing the right puppy shampoo, there are a few key features to pay attention to.

pH Level

The skin and hair of dogs and puppies have a neutral pH level. To avoid causing any damage to their skin and hair, their shampoo should also be around neutral. Look for shampoos that are pH balanced, i.e. have a pH level near to 7, which is neutral.

Fragrances

While you might like getting a little whiff of fragrance from your hair when it is freshly washed, most dogs don’t like to be surrounded by a lingering fragrance that is not their own. For that reason, good dog shampoos should work to neutralize odors rather than simply mask smells with fragrances.

If you do decide to go for something scented, make sure the scent is light and mild enough not to cause your dog major distress and that the product is made from natural ingredients that will not irritate your dog’s skin.

Natural Ingredients

Just as it is true for humans, harsh chemicals absorbed through the skin can harm dogs, especially puppies with sensitive skin or those whose systems are still growing and developing. Dangerous chemicals should be avoided by choosing products made from all-natural ingredients.

Key ingredients to avoid when looking for the best safe puppy shampoo include:

  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Isothiazolinones
  • Nitrosamines

Skin-Protecting Additives

Just as you can buy shampoos and skin cleansers that promise to hydrate your skin and keep it looking fresh, dog shampoos will often include skin-protecting additives such as oatmeal, aloe vera, or vitamin E that help to moisturize skin and keep coats shiny. This can add a lot of benefits for your dog, provided the ingredients are all-natural and won’t do your pooch any harm.

Medicated Shampoos

If your dog has specific skin conditions, including sensitive skin, there may be a shampoo out there specially formulated to help. Identifying these usually requires consultation with your vet. Look out for shampoos that can help with itchy skin, parasitic or fungal infections, skin allergies, or seborrhea.

How To Find The Best Pet Shampoo For Puppies

Now that you know how a quality puppy shampoo should look, it’s time to go shopping. Here’s what you should keep in mind when deciding on a product for your pup:

Your Dog’s Needs Come First

Not every shampoo out there is suitable for your dog. Take into consideration their breed, skin and coat needs, allergies, and other sensitivities. Next, narrow down your options to a formula that best suits your puppy.

For example, there are special shampoos for oily, itchy, dry, and sensitive skin. Still, on certain skin types, it would be smart and wise to use whitening shampoos if you have white-colored breeds such as a Dalmatian.

Remember to thoroughly check the shampoo’s ingredients as well. Watch out for chemicals that might destroy your puppy’s coat or make them uncomfortable.

Read The Product Reviews

I’m sure you wouldn’t mind knowing what other pet parents have to say about the product you plan to buy. So, take time to analyze both the positives and negative sides of it.

You are safer with a product(s) that boasts of huge positive ratings and reviews. However, if the shampoo’s negative reviews and ratings surpass the positive ones, that’s a clear sign you should avoid it.

Also, check out the product’s feedback on dog forums and groups. You could also ask fellow pet parents about their experiences with the shampoo.

Relevant Approvals

An FDA approval sort of serves as a vote of confidence. Look out for the stamp, as it’s a sign that the product is effective and approved for use. For the formulas that claim to be organic, check to see if they have certifications from relevant authorities to back that up.

Puppy Bath Time Tips

When To Shampoo Your Puppy

The general advice on how often to give your puppy a bath with shampoo is regularly but not too often. So, there is a lot of room for interpretation there! The reason not to shampoo them too often is that it can strip their coat of the natural essential oils their skin excretes to protect their coat.

How often you need to give your puppy a bath depends very much on their lifestyle and age. If they are still with their mother, they will probably require fewer baths, as mothers regularly lick their young to remove dirt.

If your puppy is an indoor pet and therefore isn’t picking up a lot of dirt, then again, you can probably wait quite a while between shampoos. However, if they like to go out frolicking in the garden or park, they are going to need a thorough bath more regularly. Pups with longer hair are also more likely to pick up and retain dirt, so they too need baths a bit more often.

Pay attention to your dog to see if they are in need of a bath. Unless they have clearly been rolling around in something icky, you should wait until they start to smell a bit dirty to you before you shampoo their coats.

How To Shampoo Your Puppy

A lot of puppies do not like bath time, and if it is not done properly, they can simply see it as punishment. This is one more of those things you need to train your puppy to do. You need to train them what they need to do during bath time and to not see it as a punishment.

Always reward your pooch for their good behavior and cooperation during bath time. According to Vet Mikkel Becker:

Bath time should always be paired with something your dog enjoys. I use a snack jar in my bathroom when bathing my pugs, so I can reward calm behavior of all four feet in the tub. I also give them a long-lasting toy or chew after their bath.

If you are looking for the best training treats for your dog, check out this review of the best dog treats for training.

As well as training, there are a number of tips to follow during bath time to keep your dog as calm and happy as possible.

  • Wear them out! It is best to bathe your dog when they are tired after an active day so they have less energy to make a fuss in the tub.
  • Regulate water temperature. Dogs struggle with water temperatures that are either too cold, making them vulnerable to illness, or too hot, making them very uncomfortable. Try and get the water lukewarm, and bathe them in a space where the outside temperature is not significantly warmer or cooler than the water temperature.
  • Be gentle. Just because your pup enjoys rough play does not mean they will appreciate an overly rugged bath time. Be gentle, especially when washing their ears, face, and privates. Keep soap out of your dog’s eyes, ears and nose as much as possible, as this will sting.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Residual soap on your dog’s skin and hair can cause damage and irritate your dog, as they can feel the residue on their skin.
  • Towel dry. Dry your pup completely before letting them loose. Let them shake off the excess water, and then towel dry them. Never use a hairdryer, even if it is designed for pups, as this can dry out their skin and hair, and they can’t let you know if it is too hot!

For more information on how to bathe your dog, check out this video from Banfield Pet Hospital.

FAQs

Can Dogs Be Washed With Human Shampoo?

No. The pH of dog skin is very different from that of human skin, and shampoos formulated for humans are too acidic for dogs and can damage their skin and coat.

Is Baby Shampoo Safe For Dogs?

Baby shampoo is the only human shampoo that may be safe to use with dogs, as it is specially formulated to be pH balanced. Plus, baby shampoos typically only use only safe and natural ingredients.

Why Is My Dog So Afraid Of Baths?

Dogs can fear baths for a number of reasons. Perhaps they have a fear of water, for example. Maybe the slipping feeling of being in a wet tub scares them. Dogs need training and patience in order to know how to behave during bath time and understand that it is an activity that is safe and potentially even fun.

Do Dogs Feel Better After A Bath?

Dogs often go crazy after a bath but not usually because they enjoyed it. If they roll around the house rubbing against everything in sight, it can be from relief or trying to rub off the scent of the soap or shampoo used.

How Much Is Dog Shampoo?

Dog shampoo prices can vary significantly from brand to brand and also depend on a number of factors, such as type and ingredients. At most pet stores and online retailers, for as low as $5 to $10, you can get a quality 10 to 16 oz. bottle of dog shampoo.

What Does “Tearless” Dog Shampoo Mean?

Put simply, tearless dog shampoos are made using a special formula that won’t irritate your dog’s eyes when it comes into contact with them. It’s recommended for puppies, since the burning sensation caused by shampoos can be uncomfortable and even damaging to their eyes.

Not every shampoo has this quality, though. It’s a special formula. Remember to check the chemicals present in the shampoo just to be sure none of them are harmful to your dog.

Can You Use Dog Shampoo On Puppies?

Yes, you can use regular dog shampoo on your puppy, but it has to be the unmedicated type and free from any harsh chemicals. Also, the quality has to be great, because many budget options can damage your puppy’s coat, make them uncomfortable, or cause other unwanted effects like allergic reactions or eye or skin infections.

The Verdict 

Dog coats are very different from human hair and therefore need a different type of shampoo to keep their skin and hair healthy and happy. Puppies, with their newer and more sensitive coats, need something a little bit different from adult dogs. Pick up a puppy shampoo in order to be able to bathe your puppy with peace of mind and confidence.

If you want the best dog shampoo for puppies, then pick up a bottle of Oster Oatmeal. If you still want quality, but you are working on a budget, then try Burt’s Bees as an affordable alternative. If you are looking to include a gentle shampoo and conditioner in your puppy’s bathing regime, then try the two-in-one formula from Nature’s Miracle. If vet approval is important to you, then check out Veterinary Formula Solutions shampoo. If your main goal is to make bath time as quick as possible, then check out the easy rinse formula from Perfect Coat.

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