As dog owners, we go to incredible lengths to ensure that our dogs are always comfortable, even if it means going without some things for ourselves; people have been known to give their dogs the first pick of bedding, food, and shelter at need, letting their pets get settled in and toughing through whatever hardships may result. Someone trying to hurt another’s dog has often been the cause for outright physical violence, and even trying to keep another’s dog off a lawn has led to many unpleasant episodes between otherwise amicable neighbors.
Besides going to bat for our dogs against other people, we’ve been known to put a considerable amount of time and energy into keeping them safe from disease or injury as well. It is fair to say that veterinary medicine and surgery have both seen substantial amounts of research and development, and the medications produced for our pets are often subjected to testing at least as rigorous as the products that will then be used on humans. Veterinarians must be licensed and trained as much as any doctor with human patients, and there are whole fields of commercial science intended solely to support the practice of keeping our dogs well.
A direct result of this dedication to our canine companions has been an entire world of pharmaceuticals exclusively to be used on dogs, with chemical compositions intended to be easy on the dog’s biology and sized to be perfect for a dog but either ineffective or overpowering for other organisms. Most canine medication currently on the market has been produced in multiple different strengths to address the enormous disparities between weight, age, and lifestyle that are almost symbolic of being a dog owner.
Skin conditions are among the most common and simplest ailments from which your pet might suffer, and also one of the easiest to notice. A dog’s characteristic scratching is hard to miss, and may be accompanied by excessive chewing on themselves or rubbing against things with particularly rough or abrasive surfaces. Itchy skin will make your pet uncomfortable and likely more agitated and vocal, but thankfully is rarely more than an external condition; your pet is, in all likelihood, in no serious danger.
There are several possible causes for skin irritation in your dog, any of which might trigger this kind of behavior. The first and most common tend to be the many kinds of parasites that will infest an unprotected pet; fleas are the most notorious of them, of course, but other pests such as lice and mites will also trigger vigorous scratching and biting at the dog’s own skin.
It is worth remembering that if your dog turns out to be infested with any kind of parasitic insect, treating the dog alone is rarely enough; most such insects reproduce quickly and can spread to humans in a relatively short time. Along with treating your dog, you’ll want to make sure to thoroughly launder bedding and any clothing that may have been in contact with the dog and to use a fumigant spray on any upholstered furniture the dog tended to use.
Certain infections can also cause an irritating skin condition, whether they are in the actual skin itself or a side effect of an inflamed internal organ; while a parasitic infestation is signified by biting or scratching the area where the dog feels the parasites biting it, a skin infection will tend to see the dog begin rubbing or rolling against rough surfaces at every opportunity in an attempt to scratch its entire body at once. The most common variety of dermal inflammation is a yeast infection in the epidermis, and it may be accompanied by hair loss, scaling on the skin, or discoloration of the dog’s skin or coat.
Serious cases of a yeast infection may see complete baldness and cracks or spontaneous abrasions in the dog’s skin, accompanied by unusual odor and fluid discharge from the cracks. A dog that has reached that stage should be given professional medical attention if only to certify that it will make a full recovery if you continue to treat it yourself.
The last possible cause for a dog to have itchy skin is an allergic reaction to something around them; in much the same way as humans, some dogs will experience an autoimmune reaction to an innocuous trigger that is generally speaking of no consequence to a healthy dog. If this happens, your dog may display other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or apparent disorientation; these should be treated immediately, with the skin condition taking a lower priority.
Keep in mind that these are only the most common causes and that the itching is a side effect as opposed to the main symptom for most of them; by the time you notice your dog scratching itself, the original cause of the itching may be long gone. If that turns out to be the case, you may want to ask your veterinarian about administering a preventative medication to your dog to keep it from happening again.
Once you have identified the underlying cause for your dog’s discomfort, you can begin selecting the appropriate method of treating it; for skin conditions, the best treatment is usually a shampoo of some kind that lathers into the dog’s pelt and adheres to the hairs and skin to form a medicated layer across the dog’s entire body. Most such products come with a soap component to cut through the natural oils on a dog’s skin and an active medical ingredient to soothe the itching and treat its source.
As mentioned, dog owners have come up with an astounding variety of every possible pet care item, and shampoos are no exception; there are endless brands of dermal medication shampoo available to the modern pet owner. We’ve cut through the confusion and found the ten best options for treating itchy skin in dogs of any shape and size; grab one suitable for your budget and dog and you’ll have your pooch feeling great in no time.
The Best Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin: Reviews and Comparisons
1. Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs
This is one of the most popular natural dog shampoos for itchy skin. It’s made of essential oils and natural ingredients that soothe irritation, fight infection, and help the skin heal faster. These include oatmeal, chamomile, and tea tree oil. Neem oil – which is high in Vitamin E and fatty acids – restores the skin’s moisture.
This is made by Vet’s Best, a US brand that’s famous for using the only natural, plant-based ingredients. It’s ideal for dogs with sensitive skin, since other dog shampoos may contain parabens, sulfates, or artificial fragrances that can cause even more reactions. Vet’s Best products also have the Seal of Approval from the National Animal Supplement Council.
This shampoo has a thin consistency, so you may need to use a lot of product if your dog has a lot of fur. However, that means it’s also easy to rinse out.
It has a light herbal scent because of the natural oils. It smells fresh (and kind of reminds us of the spa) but it won’t control strong stinky dog odor.
- Washes away allergens while soothing and healing the skin
- Made from natural essential oils and plant-based ingredients like oatmeal, chamomile, tea tree oil and neem oil
- Formulated by veterinarians
- Made in the USA
What We Like About Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs
Pet owners say that this product gave instant relief for dogs who had allergy issues. Several of them had dogs who were allergic to some kinds of grass and would lick their paws or get red patches on their belly after taking a walk. After one bath, the symptoms disappeared. One very happy customer even said that her dog also had less shedding, so some bald patches have started to heal.
Since it’s a gentle and natural shampoo, it won’t react or interfere with other flea or tick treatments. It’s also easy to rinse out, which is very important—leftover shampoo can cause itching too.
What We Don’t Like About Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs
It’s not scented, since some dogs are sensitive to fragrances. That can be an issue if your dog has odor issues.
You’ll also go through this bottle really quickly. Because of the watery consistency, you’ll have to use more product—especially if you have a big dog with lots of fur. And because of its popularity, this item tends to go out of stock. If you like it, get more than one bottle so you’re not left empty-handed when it’s bath time.
- Natural ingredients won’t irritate sensitive skin
- Can be used with other flea and tick treatments
- Easy to rinse
- Made in the USA
- Won’t correct odor issues
- Need to use a lot of product during each bath
2. Sulfodene Medicated Dog Shampoo & Conditioner
If your dog has severe and excessive itching—to the point that he actually looks miserable and isn’t able to play or sleep comfortably—then try this shampoo. It contains coal tar, sulfur, and triclosan, which veterinarians recommend for severe skin allergies and reactions. It also has aloe vera, which is one of the best natural ingredients for healing the skin. That helps reduce flakes and rough patches.
The shampoo also cleans and conditions the coat, and can remove any stubborn dirt and strong smells. Perfect for outdoor dogs!
This medicated dog shampoo is gentle enough for regular use. However, consult your vet if you can use it along with other flea and tick treatments.
- Combines veterinarian-recommended ingredients to stop excessive itching and flaking
- Washes away dirt
- Conditions and softens the coat
- Available in 8-ounce and 12-ounce bottles
What We Like About Sulfodene Medicated Shampoo with Aloe
This is a strong shampoo. If you’ve tried many shampoos and didn’t see results, or your dog’s itching always returns, then this may be the Holy Grail that you’re looking for. It’s also effective if your dog experiences itchiness all over his body, and not just rashes in a particular problem area.
And it doesn’t just stop the itching. It can clean and refresh even the dirtiest, stinkiest dog. One pet owner said that her dog had the worst smell (“a mixture of rotten milk and fish”) and this solved it in one wash.
But unlike other strong shampoos, Sulfodene won’t dry out your dog’s skin or coat. In fact, many people say that their dog’s fur actually looked shinier and felt softer.
Dog shampoo reviews also praise that it lathers up and rinses off quickly, so it shortens the bath time. If your dog hates baths, this is definitely a plus.
What We Don’t Like About Sulfodene Medicated Shampoo with Aloe
Many people commented that this shampoo has a strong medicinal smell that sticks to your dog for quite a while. The bottle also tends to leak, which can be an issue during shipping.
- Relieves even severe itching and skin conditions
- Removes strong odors
- Dog’s fur is softer and healthier
- Lathers and rinses off easily
- Strong medical scent
- Poor bottle design is prone to leaking
3. Frisco Anti-Itch Shampoo with Aloe for Dogs, Unscented
This shampoo cleans, refreshes, and soothes. There are no harsh chemicals: all its cleansing ingredients are derived from coconut and other plants. Tea tree oil kills bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause skin infection and body odor. Certified organic aloe vera oil moisturizes and heals the skin, and helps relieve itching and redness. It also has Vitamin A, E, and B for healthier skin and a softer coat.
This anti-itching shampoo does not contain parabens, dyes, and artificial fragrances. However, you will get a faint natural scent from the tea tree oil.
- Made from natural and organic ingredients
- Does not contain artificial dyes or fragrances
- Can only be used for dogs
What We Like About Frisco Anti-itch Shampoo with Aloe
This is one of the gentlest anti-itch shampoos. It won’t irritate his skin—even very raw, rough spots—and will help promote healing too. We recommend using this after completing a medicated treatment, and just want to avoid causing any reactions.
It’s also affordable: not only is it cheaper than other shampoos, but you also get a bigger 20-ounce bottle.
We like how it’s free of irritating chemicals, and the suds are environmentally-friendly. Gentle on the skin, good for the Earth!
What We Don’t Like About Frisco Anti-itch Shampoo with Aloe
This is more of a maintenance shampoo. It can’t really resolve existing itching problems, especially the more severe ones. The tea tree oil scent is too faint and disappears quickly. Your dog is clean, but he won’t smell fresh.
- Natural ingredients
- Not effective for more serious skin irritations and itching
- Lack of scent can’t help dogs with odor issues
4. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo
Hot spots (also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis) are trickier to treat than allergies. These are red and inflamed skin lesions that can even ooze pus. They’re very itchy, but unfortunately, your dog’s instinct to scratch, gnaw or bite at the area makes them worse! Sometimes the lesions may even start to bleed. Poor dog!
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo can help. It contains lidocaine and hydrocortisone, which act quickly to reduce swelling, itchiness, and pain. Oatmeal and aloe vera also help strengthen and heal the skin. Lactic acid helps the skin absorb the ingredients and further soothes the skin.
- Relieves severe itching and inflammation with lidocaine, hydrocortisone, and wheat germ oil
- Heals and strengthens the skin with aloe vera, oatmeal, and lactic acid
- Discourages chewing and gnawing
- Does not contain parabens, dye, and soaps
- Safe for both dogs and cats
What We Like About Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo
Many people say that this was the only shampoo that helped them. They had tried other brands, but they just couldn’t resolve the severe swelling and itching.
The results can be dramatic. One woman said that “the skin went from scary red to normal in just one day”.
Others also say that they’re amazed at the price. It’s cheap for a 16-ounce bottle, but very effective. One reviewer, who raises show dogs, says it works better than many of the more expensive brands he’s tried.
What We Don’t Like About Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo
It can be too strong for some dogs, especially those with sensitive skin. And one user surmised that while it worked well for her neighbor’s bigger dogs, it seemed to actually cause discomfort for her Yorkshire terrier. While the product doesn’t say that it can’t be used for smaller breeds, it is something to consider.
- Very effective even for excessive skin infections
- Free of parabens, artificial dyes, and soaps
- Instant relief from itching discourages biting and gnawing
- Won’t dry out the skin
- Affordable price
- The formula can be too strong for dogs with sensitive skin
- Does not condition or soften the coat
5. Burt’s Bees Itch Soothing Shampoo with Honeysuckle for Dogs
Burt’s Bees is famous for its quality and natural ingredients and is actually one of the biggest beauty brands in the world. It’s great to see that they’re producing products for pets, too.
Groom your pet with gentle ingredients that help him stay fresh naturally. Burt’s Bees Itch Soothing Shampoo with Honeysuckle for Dogs is made with some of nature’s finest ingredients for your peace of mind and a calmer pup. Free of sulfates and colorants, this cleanser is pH balanced for dogs and infused with honeysuckle to soothe your pet’s dry, itchy skin.
This gentle shampoo is made of 97% natural ingredients, including moisturizing avocado oil and honey, and colloidal oat flour. These also helped maintain healthy skin and follicles, so they can encourage fur growth.
The formula is also PH balanced to prevent redness and flaking. Like all Burt’s Bees products, this has no sulfates, colorants, and preservatives that can cause irritation. And, it’s cruelty-free!
- Cleanses and conditions the fur,
- Encourages fur growth
- Made of 98% natural ingredients
- Gentle, PH-balanced formula
- Free of sulfates, preservatives, and artificial dyes
What We Like About Burt’s Bees Itch Soothing Shampoo with Honeysuckle
This is a very gentle shampoo that smells really good. It leaves the fur really soft and shiny, and it can help relieve mild itching from allergies.
We like that it’s from natural ingredients, and one of the advantages of a global brand like Burt’s Bees is that it can source the highest quality plant extracts. And for animal lovers, the fact that it’s cruelty-free also gives peace of mind.
What We Don’t Like About Burt’s Bees Itch Soothing Shampoo with Honeysuckle
It can’t help with severe itching and is best for soothing mild allergies and preventing irritation. And even if Burt’s Bees is a famous beauty brand, it doesn’t have the same weight and reputation of a grooming line developed by and with veterinarians.
- High-quality natural ingredients
- Great scent
- Free of parabens and harmful chemicals
- Not effective for excessive itching or recurring skin conditions
- Not developed by veterinarians
6. Vetoquinol Vet Solutions for Itchy, Dry Skin: Dog and Cat Shampoo
Wash away your dog’s skin troubles! This shampoo is specially formulated for very dry, itchy skin. It contains oatmeal, which soothes the skin while soaking up the oils and excess moisture. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so the itching goes away. Aloe hydrates and repairs damaged skin and have Vitamins and antioxidants too.
This shampoo gives a rich lather and can clean the dirtiest, stinkiest dog! It lathers up quickly but will need extra rinsing. It also has a fresh coconut scent. The soap-free formula won’t dry out the skin, too!
- Relieves itchiness and irritation
- Moisturizes the skin
- Soap-free, paraben-free, silicone-free
- Has a pleasant and long-lasting coconut scent
- Can be used on both cats and dogs
What We Like About Vetoquinol Vet Solutions for Itchy, Dry Skin
Dog shampoo reviews say that this is one of the few anti-itching shampoos that won’t cause their pet’s fur to become dull and dry. In fact, they say that the coat has become so shiny and soft that they don’t even need to use a conditioner anymore!
This is a good product for a dog with long fur and has moderate itching from allergies. It’s effective enough to reduce rashes and inflammation, but still does everything else you’d expect from a dog shampoo: make his fur soft and smelling good.
What We Don’t Like About Vetoquinol Vet Solutions for Itchy, Dry Skin
Some users say that it just didn’t work for their pet, and that’s probably because this doesn’t have the ingredients for fighting bacteria, infection, or severe inflammation. It also can’t help dogs with severe dandruff or flaking.
- Good for sensitive skin
- Helps relieve mild to moderate itching
- Softens the coat
- Pleasant fragrance
- Rich lather
- Can’t treat severe itching or infection
- Can’t treat flaking or dandruff
7. GNC Pets Itch Relief Medicated Dog Shampoo
This is a great shampoo for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin. The hydrocortisone helps reduce redness and swelling, and the aloe vera soothes and heals any sore and raw patches.
This strikes a good balance between very strong medicated shampoos that are effective but irritating and natural shampoos that are gentle but ineffective for bad allergies.
As a plus, it also conditions the coat so it’s soft, silky, and shiny. It won’t encourage fur growth like other shampoos, but it can keep it looking at its best. However, depending on your dog breed, you may need to get a conditioner to get the results you want.
- Formulated with hydrocortisone and aloe vera to relieve itching, redness and irritation
- Gentle enough for sensitive skin
- Eucalyptus scent
- Made in the USA
What We Like About GNC Pets Itch Relief Medicated Dog Shampoo
Some medicated shampoos can actually cause more skin problems because they dry out or irritate the skin. This one is gentler, but still effective enough for dogs who have really big, itchy rashes all over.
It gives a good lather and doesn’t damage the fur—in fact, it can actually keep the fur soft and shiny. The eucalyptus scent also neutralizes stinky dog smell. It’s a good all-around shampoo.
What We Don’t Like About GNC Pets Itch Relief Medicated Dog Shampoo
Eucalyptus is one of those scents that you either really like or you really hate. Some people think it’s too strong and medicinal. It’s a matter of personal preference, but something to consider if you’re buying this shampoo.
While it’s a good all-around shampoo, it’s like that “B” student who does well in all subjects but doesn’t really get the top scores in the class. If your dog has severe itching or has a very dry or dull coat, you’ll need to get more specialized products.
8. Douxo Chlorhexidine PS
This product takes advantage of the advanced chemical engineering available to today’s veterinary market to produce the ideal solution for treating a variety of irritating skin conditions in dogs of all breeds.
- 16.9-ounce bottle
- Hydrophobic lipid base
- Active ingredients chlorhexidine and climbazole
- Phytosphingosine – salicyloyl anti-inflammatory additives
What We Like About Douxo Chlorhexidine PS
Refining the chemicals involved in the product makes this shampoo able to deliver a stronger soothing action with less actual shampoo used, and for the medicated elements to act without the usual need for the dog’s body to detect them among their natural homes. A lipid base means that the product will bond to your dog’s skin in a waterproof layer that will seal in the moisture and prevent further drying.
What We Don’t Like About Douxo Chlorhexidine PS
There are many pet owners that don’t appreciate such a powerful chemical compound for their dogs, even a wholly topical one such as this, which has made the product less common among pet owners. An entirely artificial compound will also be more damaging if accidentally imbibed than a similar one with natural ingredients, so extra caution is advised when lathering up your pet.
- Hydrophobic base seals cracked and dry skin
- Active ingredients deliver rapid and reliable relief from itching or burning skin
- Trace anti-inflammatory components added for longer-lasting action
- Controls fungus and bacterial growths
- Soothes scabs and insect bites
- Some application time required for the product to fully ‘soak into’ the dog
- More severe consequences for unintended contact with eyes or mouth.
9. Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo with Aloe
This shampoo features a time-tested trio of natural ingredients for relieving burning or cracked skin, including aloe vera, oatmeal, and chamomile.
- All-natural active ingredients
- 20-ounce bottle
- pH balanced
- Coconut base for lather
What We Like About Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo with Aloe
Some medicated shampoos will be of a looser consistency, as the chemicals in them don’t bond well to one another. This product uses a coconut-based lathering agent to hold together three natural active ingredients into a firm gel in the hand and a thick lather on your dog’s coat.
What We Don’t Like About Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo with Aloe
There is little actual cleaning agent found in this product, so using it for your dog’s general hygiene will require to use more shampoo for the same effect.
- Balanced acidity
- Specialized lathering agent
- Proven active ingredients
- Masks unpleasant odors
- Rinses away easily and without residue
- No cleanser included
- Does not contain any real medication needed for certain conditions.
10. TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Shampoo
Younger dogs are more sensitive to stimuli and exposure than older ones; this product gives you a minimally abrasive formula optimized for a puppy’s more fragile physique and health.
- 20-ounce bottle
- Coconut fragrance
- Does not contain soaps or parabens
What We Like About TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Shampoo
Extra care has been taken to make sure that there is no further damage done to your puppy’s skin or coat while applying this product, with both acidity and preservatives carefully balanced so as not to irritate their skin any further.
What We Don’t Like About TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Shampoo
This formula is suitable for the shorter and softer fur of puppies or smaller dogs; larger adult dogs will need a stronger product to penetrate their rougher hair.
- pH balanced
- Zero preservatives
- Pleasant aroma soothes the dog’s mind as well as skin
- Optimized for use on puppies
- Contains no artificial dyes
- It may not be powerful enough for larger dogs
- Does not remove everyday contaminants
11. MiconaHex+Triz Shampoo
If your dog suffers from a severe bacterial or fungal inflammation, this medical-strength pet shampoo is the choice for you.
- 16-ounce bottle
- Moisturizer base
- miconazole and chlorhexidine active ingredients
- Suitable for horses and cats as well as dogs
What We Like About MiconaHex+Triz Shampoo
Because it is produced as a medicine, this shampoo contains stronger chemicals than most skin relief products and can actually treat the underlying causes of the itching as well as relieving the sensation.
What We Don’t Like About MiconaHex+Triz Shampoo
Your dog may not need this strong of a product. You may want to seek out a gentler alternative if they have a more mild condition.
- Powerful active ingredients
- Antifungal action
- Fights bacterial infections
- Uses medical moisturizer as a base to cure dry skin
- Highly versatile and suitable for multiple species
- Stronger than necessary for some conditions
- Not to be used on puppies
12. Zymox Veterinary Strength Enzymatic Shampoo
Instead of using an artificial solution, this product stimulates the dog’s body to provide a natural enzymatic response that soothes the itching from within.
- Suitable for all ages
- LP3 enzyme stimulant active ingredient
- No soaps or petroleum-based chemicals
What We Like About Zymox Veterinary Strength Enzymatic Shampoo
This is a shampoo for the long game, boosting the dog’s natural anti-inflammatory system with a patented LP3 enzyme particle that cures itching for the long term.
What We Don’t Like About Zymox Veterinary Strength Enzymatic Shampoo
This product does not act as quickly as others, and does not come in as large a bottle as one might expect.
- No harsh chemical exposure
- Plant-based soothing agents for immediate relief
- Long terms enzyme-based irritation reduction
- Safe for puppies
- Fights bacteria and fungal spores
- Slower action than other options
- A 12-ounce bottle will need to be replenished more often
Does your dog frequently lick his paws? Does he rub himself against the wall or roll on the grass? Is he always scratching himself, or even nipping and biting at a part of his body?
These are signs that your dog has allergies or other skin conditions. Try the dog shampoos recommended above for itchy skin. They can help relieve the itching (so he doesn’t bite or scratch) and even help the rashes and swelling go away.
If your dog has sores or wounds from over-scratching, or if his skin has become dry and flaky, these dog shampoos also contain ingredients that can help prevent infection and help him heal faster.
There are many dog shampoos that can help relieve itching, but it’s hard to say which one is “best” because it really depends on what’s causing your dog’s skin problems and how severe it is.
If it’s a mild seasonal allergy that occasionally acts up, then a natural and gentle shampoo like Frisco or Burt’s Bees. If the rashes are all over the body and don’t seem to go away, you can go for a stronger shampoo formula that has hydrocortisone but is still safe for sensitive skin, like GNC Pets.
But for severe itching, you bring out the big guns like Sulfodene or Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot Itch Relief. However, don’t immediately buy these powerful dog shampoos unless you’ve tried the others. These strong shampoos can irritate the skin, so treat them like the final resort.
Also, if your dog has recurring skin problems, do take him to the vet. He can find out what’s causing the itching. It could be a medical condition, a side effect of a diet, an allergy to something in the house or the garden, or fleas and ticks. It’s important to get to the root of the problem! Your vet can prescribe medicines or recommend the best treatment. If your dog is already going through a flea and tick treatment, you should also consult your vet about which dog shampoos you can safely use with them.