dog getting a bath

Dog Shampoo for Dry Itchy Skin Veterinarians Recommend

Finding the right dog shampoo for dry, itchy skin can be tricky. A simple Google search of dry skin shampoos for dogs shows over 39 million results. Fortunately, I am a pet product expert who has spent the last 30 years of her life researching, testing, and working with pet products like dog shampoo on her Cocker Spaniels.

When speaking to my veterinarian, Dr. Sammie Thompson, she said unless they are muddy or extra dirty, most dogs can be bathed every four to six weeks. Of course, dogs vary by breed, lifestyle, medical issues, length of coat, and if they spend time doing outdoor activities. Your dog may require more frequent bathing. 

If your dog has dry, itchy skin, you should first rule out underlying medical conditions. Dry and itchy skin can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, parasites (fleas, ticks, etc.), bacterial or fungal skin infections, hormonal imbalances caused by Cushing’s Disease or hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases, seasonal allergies, skin allergies, or dry air/low humidity.

An improper or subpar diet can also contribute to your dog’s skin condition. If your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist suggests allergies or food sensitivities contribute to your dog’s dandruff or dry skin, changing food may help. 

Using the right supplements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, may help improve your dog’s dry, flaky skin. The ideal dog shampoo for dry, itchy skin can help alleviate your dog’s discomfort while significantly improving their skin’s health. 

What To Avoid In Dog Shampoos

“When choosing a general shampoo for your pets, it’s important that you select an option that is appropriate for your canine or feline companion over those created for humans,” says Patrick Mahaney, VMD/CVA. “Be especially cautious in choosing a shampoo for your cat, as they are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of essential oils — tea tree oil, etc.”

Avoid over-bathing your dog; bathing your furry friend too much can strip natural oils from the skin and lead to dryness and other issues. 

Although anti-itch and moisturizing shampoo may relieve symptoms, there are things you should avoid in any dog shampoo. Here’s what to avoid: (list)

  • Human shampoo: Dogs have a different and more sensitive pH of the skin than human beings. Human shampoos are more acidic. A dog’s skin is actually thinner than a human’s, so they cannot tolerate the same harsh ingredients, chemicals, dyes, and preservatives we can.  You want to stick to more natural ingredients that are safer when possible.
  • Harsh chemicals you cannot pronounce in harsh shampoos: These ingredients are listed in our Dangers of Dog Shampoos post

How We Selected Our Dry, Itchy Skin Shampoos for Dogs

Dog Parent Feedback: In my highly engaged Club Cocker Facebook group of over 5,100 dog moms and dads, many members share their dog shampoos for itchy, dry skin recommendations. 

My Personal Experience and Expertise: All of the dog shampoos on this list are currently or have been used extensively on my dogs. I travel the country, attend pet industry trade shows,  and talk to the experts and pros face to face. This is an important factor in deciding what products we recommend.

Veterinarian-Recommended: I talked to my dog’s veterinarian and other veterinarians for suggestions throughout this article. 

Reviews: Real-world usage of these products on real dogs is pivotal. We researched the good, the bad, and the indifferent in order to qualify the dog shampoos for dry skin on this list.

Reputation: If a brand has been around a while and gets good feedback with a good reputation from both pet parents and veterinarians/other pet industry pros, they are considered for this list. 

Dog Shampoo For Dry, Itchy Skin: Our Favorites 

These are our top picks for dog shampoos when dry skin is involved. Dog parents should take time to read the ingredients, understand what they are using on their dog, and ask their veterinarian about the active ingredients and their efficacy.

Bath time can be a fun time, even if your dog has a skin irritation such as dry skin. You always want to find out the cause of your dog having dry skin, especially if excessive scratching is involved.

Best Overall Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin: ZYMOX Shampoo for Dogs

Best Veterinarian Recommended Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin: Virbac Epi-Soothe Pet Shampoo

Best Calming Shampoo for Dogs: Wahl 4-in-1 Calming Pet Shampoo

Best Shampoo Dog Groomers Love: iGroom All-in-One Dog Shampoo

Best Medicated Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin: Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo for Dogs

Best CBD Infused Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin: Pet Releaf 2-in-1 CBD Shampoo and Conditioner

Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin: Chris Christensen Peace & Kindness Dog Shampoo

Best Puppy Shampoo for Dry Skin: Pride + Groom The Sensitive One Dog Shampoo

Best Exfoliating Dog Shampoo: Warren London Exfoliating Butter Wash Dog Shampoo

Best Leave-In Conditioner for Dry Dog Skin: ZYMOX Leave-In Conditioner With Vitamin D3

Best Overall Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin

zymox shampoo for dogs

ZYMOX Shampoo for Dogs

From Pet King Brands

We’ve used ZYMOX shampoo for nearly 20 years on our dogs. It contains no harsh chemicals and, is free of detergents, chlorines, and does not sting. Ideal for dogs who itch and have flaky skin, and helps with overall dry skin and coat. Uses a patented enzymatic system and contains vitamin D. Our veterinarian loves this shampoo as do thousands of others.

Best Veterinarian Recommended Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin

virbac episoothe dry dog skin

Virbac Epi-Soothe Pet Shampoo


When I asked veterinarian, Dr. Sharon Daley of Bunn Animal Hospital, her favorite shampoo for a dog’s dry skin, she recommended Epi-Soothe. This natural oat grain shampoo is made to clean and soothe dry, sensitive skin. I am never without this product and can attest to its efficacy.

Best Calming Shampoo for Dogs

four-in-one shampoo for dog skin dry

Wahl 4-in-1 Calming Dog Shampoo

Allergy-friendly and made in the USA

Wahl has been used by professionals for decades, and it’s a staple in our household, too. The 4-in-1 refers to cleaning, detangling, conditioning, and moisturizing. The lavender chamomile scent is light. It contains no parabens or alcohol, and is PEG-80 free.

Best Shampoo Dog Groomers Love 

igroom for dogs skin

iGroom All-in-One Dog Shampoo

Leading luxury brand

Several Cocker Spaniel breeders/groomers I know use and swear by the iGroom brand. The cleansing power is described as powerful but gentle. For dry skin, it is designed as an all-in-one solution with conditioner included.

Best Medicated Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin

Douxo shampoo for dogs

Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo for Dogs

Ideal for itchy, allergic skin

Many veterinarians recommend this shampoo, as it may help interrupt an itchy dog’s vicious scratching cycle, which contributes further to dry skin. It is soothing and ideal for itchy skin due to allergies.

Best CBD Infused Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin

dog posing with dog shampoo with cbd

Pet Releaf 2-in-1 Product

Shampoo and conditioner in one with CBD

We are never without Pet Releaf products in our household. This dynamic formula is infused with natural lavender and natural mint fragrance and is ideal for all coat types. Contains nothing to further dry the skin and is veterinarian-formulated in the USA.

Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive Skin 

dry skin shampoo for dogs

Chris Christensen Dog Shampoo

Hypo-allergenic and perfume-free, dye-free

Designed for dogs with itchy skin and dandruff, this works like a charm on our Cocker Spaniel. It is free of sulfates, perfumes, and dyes so your dog’s natural oils are not stripped from their coat. Made in the USA. If you have a dog with skin folds, be sure to pay attention to cleaning and drying the folds,

Best Puppy Shampoo for Dry Skin

pride and groom for sensitive skin

Pride and Groom Sensitive One

For puppies and dogs with sensitive skin

I adore this formula; the brand made Oprah’s Best List this year. Formulated with ingredients designed to soothe and regulate the skin and follicles of puppies. We used this on our Cocker pup’s skin and used it from time to time for any drying of the skin.

Best Exfoliating Dog Shampoo

dog shampoo for dry itchy skin

Warren London Exfoliating Butter

Conditions and scrubs away dandruff

When my Alvin had some dandruff, this shampoo worked like a charm. It cleans and scrubs away dirt but also has jojoba oil beads to exfoliate. This gentle cleanser is available in two light scents: Milk and honey or pomegranate and fig.

Best Leave-In Conditioner For Dry Dog Skin

Leave on conditioner for dry skin dogs

Zymox Leave-In Conditioner

Soothing relief from dry, flaky skin

Great to use after shampooing and then massage into your dog’s skin. It can be lightly rinsed off or left in for maximum efficacy (which is what I do.) Won’t strip or dry the coat and is suitable for dogs of all ages as an effective solution.

Frothing Your Dog’s Skin During Bathtime 

Frothing my dog during his bathtime is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can give your dog. Frothing is a technique that may help prevent itchiness, scratching, the amount of shampoo used, and help make your dog’s coat incredibly soft and shiny.

Regular use with a proper shampoo can using the frothing method can be beneficial to your pet’s coat and skin

You know those frothy milk toppings on the top of fancy coffee drinks? Frothing dog shampoo works on the same principle with a completely different purpose. A small amount is generally needed, so you save on shampoo and water.  Here’s how to make your dog’s coat soft with frothing.

Nutritional and Supplemental Help for Dogs With Dry Skin

A poor diet will also contribute to your dog’s overall skin and coat. The old adage of you are what you eat applies to your dogs’ skin, too. You may wonder if dogs need vegetables in their diet, and the answer is yes (the right vegetables, that is.)

You want to be aware of the marketing tactics that some pet food manufacturers get away with, too. Working in the pet industry for close to a decade, there are things I’ve learned that every dog parent should know about dog food labels.

Supplements such as vitamins, essential fatty acids, and nutraceuticals can be beneficial to your dog’s overall health and wellness. A good option is to talk to your veterinarian before adding anything new to your dog’s diet. Good nutrition starts from the inside out. Generally, if your dog has dry skin, something internally is likely a culprit. Allergy-prone skin doesn’t just happen overnight.

Extra Help for Dogs With Itchy Skin

​Don’t stop now. Learn more about how to help your dog with itchy skin by accessing the links below:

We Found Out if Dog CBD Shampoo Is Worth It

How to Get Rid of Pet Dander at Home

How to Help a Cocker Spaniel with Food Allergies

Best dog shampoo for dry itchy skin

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