9 Best Dog Shampoos for Dry Skin & Dandruff with 2 Homemade Options

One of the most common problems dog owners mention is that their dog has dry skin or dry skin and dandruff. If your dog has these problems, we have some answers! In this article we’ll discuss:

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  1. Why dogs have dry skin and dandruff.
  2. Buy a shampoo vs. making a homemade DIY shampoo.
  3. Key components to a dry skin dog shampoo.
  4. Our picks for the best dog shampoos for dry skin and dandruff.
  5. And some options for homemade DIY shampoos.

Dry skin, dandruff, and the itching that can accompany them are so common in dogs that some owners try to ignore these problems or consider them “normal” for dogs. They aren’t normal. There are always reasons why your dog has dry skin and dandruff. Many times it can be relatively easy to take care of these problems and make your dog feel and look better. You may need a good dog shampoo for dry, flaky skin, for example. Or your vet may be able to help your dog with parasites or allergies. We can provide some answers below.

Understanding why dogs have dry skin and dandruff

Dry skin and dandruff in dogs can be signs of several different problems.

Dry weather/low humidity. One of the most common causes of dry skin and dandruff in dogs is dry weather and low humidity, especially in winter. Whether your dog spends time outdoors or is inside all the time, there is less moisture in the air. This is especially true in most homes in the winter. Dry indoor heat often leaves all of us with dry, chapped skin. The drier air sucks the moisture out of our skin – and from your dog’s skin. This leaves your dog’s skin dry. Dead skin flakes – dandruff – can start to slough off. The dry skin makes your dog itch. Many dog lovers like to add some fish oil or another omega-3 fatty acid supplement to their dog’s diet in the winter to help with problem. You can also try rubbing a little vitamin E oil on your dog’s dry skin as a moisturizer.

Allergies. Skin problems in dogs are often a result of allergies. Skin or contact allergies, food allergies, and inhalant allergies can all cause reactions that show up on your dog’s skin. In some cases they can look like dry skin and dandruff. If your dog’s dry skin and dandruff are due to allergies, you will need to discover the allergens that bother your dog and try to avoid them. It’s usually a good idea to work with your veterinarian.

Parasites. Parasites such as worms of different kinds can make your dog’s skin and coat look dry and dull and cause dandruff. If your dog has worms, they can be stealing the nutrition your dog needs. If you aren’t worming your dog regularly, talk to your veterinarian about worming. Many heartworm medications also contain wormers but they may not get rid of every kind of worm. Mange is caused by tiny mites that can cause your dog to lose his hair, have dry skin, and itch.

Skin infections. Yeast and other fungal infections can cause itchy, dry, flaky skin. Bacterial infections can also cause skin problems that make the skin itchy and flaky.

Nutritional problems. If your dog food is lacking in omega fatty acids or other important nutrients, your dog’s skin could look dry. Providing your dog with good nutrition is important for healthy skin and coat.

Immune-related. Dogs with a weakened immune system can have problems with dry skin and dandruff. This can be a genetic issue. You may be able to find out if one of your dog’s relatives has problems with dry skin and dandruff, too. Dogs that have these skin problems should, ideally, not be bred. (There are always exceptions if a dog has other outstanding qualities.)

Bathing. Bathing your dog too often, using harsh shampoos, or using shampoos made for humans can all strip your dog’s skin of its natural oils. This can lead to dry, itchy, flaky skin and dandruff.

Grooming. Healthy skin and coat for your dog depends on regular brushing and grooming. Your dog has natural skin oils which are distributed throughout the coat when you brush him, making his coat shine. Brushing stimulates his skin and makes his coat look good. It also helps remove any dead skin which forms dandruff flakes. So, brushing your dog regularly is one of the best things you can do to help prevent dry skin and dandruff.

Buying vs homemade DIY shampoos

Before you can choose a shampoo for your dog, you need to know the cause of his dry skin and dandruff. Once you have determined the cause of the problem, you can decide whether you want to buy a good shampoo or try to make a homemade DIY shampoo. If your dog needs a medicated shampoo for allergies or skin infections, we would recommend that you buy a good shampoo for dry skin and dandruff. These conditions can be serious and you will probably need to work with your veterinarian to clear them up.

If your dog has dry skin and dandruff because of dry weather/low humidity or because he simply needs more brushing and grooming, you can try to use a homemade DIY shampoo. Some people like to make their own shampoos so they can avoid harsh chemicals and they know the ingredients they are using. Making your own shampoo is also a way to save money in some cases. And you can customize the shampoo to suit your dog.

Key components to a dry skin dog shampoo

Things we like to see in a good dry skin dog shampoo include:

  1. A shampoo that is pH balanced for your dog. This is why human shampoos are not good for your dog.
  2. A shampoo that is mild, with mild cleansing ingredients. If it’s soap-free, that’s fine.
  3. The shampoo should be easy to rinse out so it won’t leave behind a residue that could make your dog itch.
  4. Look for moisturizing ingredients and conditioners such as oatmeal. Aloe vera and Vitamin E are also good ingredients for soothing your dog’s skin.

Overall best dog shampoo for dry skin and dandruff

PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Oatmeal ‘N Baking Soda Dog Shampoo, Tropical Fresh Scent

For mild problems, our pick for the best dog shampoo for dry skin and dandruff is PegAg Fresh ‘N Clean Oatmeal ‘N Baking Soda Dog Shampoo, Tropical Fresh Scent. This formula is gentle and and soothing to clean your dog’s coat and nurture dry, itchy, sensitive skin. Colloidal oatmeal calms the skin and baking soda controls odor. It contains purified water and naturally-derived cleansers, along with soothing aloe vera. It has a fragrant tropical scent. This shampoo is a favorite with customers and it’s not too expensive. Made in the USA. PetAg has a wide range of shampoos that are good for dogs with dry, itchy skin.

8 more top-rated dry skin shampoos for dogs

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance Free Dog & Cat Shampoo

Earthbath makes lots of different shampoos for dogs. For dogs with dry skin and dandruff, we like Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog & Cat Shampoo. This shampoo is soap-free and made especially for pets with dry, itchy, and sensitive skin. It provides relief and deodorizes your dog without irritating his skin or washing off topical flea applications. It contains oatmeal and aloe to remoisturize and heal scratched skin. Reduces itching so your dog won’t start scratching again. This is a fragrance-free formula which makes it a good choice for dogs with sensitivities or allergies. Can be used of puppies or kittens over 6 weeks old. This formula is 100 percent biodegradable and it’s free of parabens and phosphates.

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo is a good choice for dry, itchy skin. The active ingredients are lidocaine and hydrocortisone which provide quick relief to affected areas. They reduce the urge to scratch, bite, or gnaw at those areas. Made with oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe, moisturize, and promote healing.

RX 4 Pets Dog & Cat Skin Irritation Shampoo & Conditioner

Combining a shampoo and conditioner in one, RX 4 Pets Dog & Cat Skin Irritation Shampoo & Conditioner is made with homeopathic, natural, and organic ingredients. It features colloidal oatmeal that is good for mange, flea bites, rashes, hives, hot spots, dry, itchy skin and dandruff, and other skin problems. It’s safe and gentle with no harsh chemicals. Leaves your dog’s coat smelling great. Botanical and herbal extracts provide beneficial antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to fight skin problems and irritations. This gentle formula contains no sulphates, parabens, or harsh chemicals so it won’t cause irritation. Made in the USA.

Particular Paws Oatmeal Dog & Cat Shampoo

Particular Paws Oatmeal Dog & Cat Shampoo helps soothe dry, itchy skin and keeps your dog’s coat full and healthy. It contains gentle, natural ingredients such as oatmeal, shea butter, and aloe vera, along with extracts from chamomile, rosemary, and honey It’s formulated to heal dry, damaged skin and coat, seal in natural oils, and promote a thicker, fuller coat. Dandruff, hives, flaking skin, dryness and other problems can all occur in young animals that are otherwise healthy. This shampoo is a good way to soothe these problems. This shampoo is nontoxic. Made in Arizona in a GMP-compliant facility under the supervision of veterinary experts.

Four Paws Magic Coat Medicated Shampoo for Dogs

Four Paws Magic Coat Mediated Shampoo for Dogs is highly rated by groomers and other pet professionals. It’s a gentle cleanser that contains both coal tar and aloe to relieve dry, itchy skin and add moisture. Coal tar is a frequent ingredient in human dandruff shampoos and it helps dogs with dandruff, too. This shampoo is a good choice if your dog has irritated skin caused by dermatitis, eczema, or other things that make him itch. This is a non-stinging formula that leaves the coat soft and clean with your dog feeling relieved.

PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Skin & Coat Essentials Dandruff Dog Shampoo

PetAg has a lot of good shampoos for dogs coping with irritated skin. One formula that we particularly like is PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Skin & Coat Essentials Dandruff Dog Shampoo. This formula is pH-balanced and soap-free. It works to reduce dandruff and skin irritation with gentle exfoliators such as salicylic acid that slough off unhealthy skin cells. It also has extracts of aloe, oats, and rooibos tea to calm the skin and soothe inflammation to prevent new skin flare-ups that can occur with dandruff. It contains no dyes, parabens, or artificial fragrances. It also contains Vitamin E to protect the skin; and it has glycerin for moisturizing.

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseborrheic & Anti dandruff Medicated Shampoo

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseborrheic & Antidandruff Medicated Shampoo can help your dog if he has mild dermatitis. Dandruff from seborrheic dermatitis is due to a buildup of oil and yeast. It shows up as scaly patches, dandruff, a greasy coat; red, itchy skin, and an unpleasant body odor. While it doesn’t have the dry skin many people associate with dandruff, it’s another form of the problem. Seborrheic dermatitis is very common. If your dog has this problem, the itching and scratching can lead to a secondary infection. Using a good antiseborrheic and antidandruff medicated shampoo, such as this one, can help relieve symptoms and promote healing by hydrating and calming the itchy skin and removing excess oils. This shampoo contains zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, and colloidal sulfur. It won’t wash away flea and tick treatments.

Pet Head Feeling Flaky Shampoo for Dry & Sensitive Skin

Pet Head Feeling Flaky Shampoo for Dry & Sensitive Skin is specially designed with a quenching formula to relieve dry, irritated skin. It’s a good choice for dogs with sensitive skin. It contains yucca and chamomile extracts, strawberries and yogurt, along with silk proteins to nourish the skin and condition the coat. Made in the USA.  It has a watermelon scent. According to the company, this shampoo has an eco-friendly formula and it’s pH-balanced for dogs. Non-toxic and free of parabens, sulfates, and DEA.

2 options for homemade DIY shampoos

If you’re interested in trying out a homemade DIY shampoo for your dog with dry skin and dandruff, here are a couple of recipes we found on Pinterest. Disclaimer: We are not responsible if your dog’s hair falls out. (We have to say that.)


[tasty-recipe id=”6832″] [tasty-recipe id=”6834″]


Dogs can have dry, itchy skin and slight dandruff for lots of reasons. Some of the most common are dry air in winter with low humidity; a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet; and parasites such as worms. All of these problems can be easily fixed. If your dog’s dry skin and dandruff persist, check with your veterinarian. Your dog’s skin problems might be immune-related or genetic. Or, they could be due to an allergy. Whatever the case, a dog with dry skin and dandruff can benefit from a good shampoo that reduces the itching and eliminates the dandruff. Left untreated, a dog that has dry, itchy skin and dandruff is likely to keep scratching his skin and runs the risk of developing secondary bacterial or fungal infections which can become much more difficult to treat.

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