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Dog Shampoo Tips


When we adopted our littermate puppies, we received loads of advice on what dog shampoo we should use.  We started with puppy shampoo from our neighborhood pet store and today, we use Life’s Abundance Revitalizing Shampoo.

But I still had some questions about dog shampoo and I got those questions answered recently.  I belong to a LinkedIn group for dog lovers where I connected with Angela Wulf of Big Paws K-9 Grooming (please show support by liking their Facebook page).

Dog Shampoo Tips

What’s your favorite dog shampoo?

I don’t know if I have a favorite brand of dog shampoo. For the most part, most shampoos that are formulated for dogs are going to work just fine. For an all around type of shampoo to always have on hand, I would recommend a good oatmeal-based shampoo.

Oatmeal is very calming for itchy or irritated skin but it also contains natural oils that are very good for the coat. It’s generally ok for dogs that have slight allergies as well. Even if you have a dog that has a perfectly good coat, no allergies, and no excessive shedding, it will never hurt to maintain with a great oatmeal shampoo. Plus, you must tell me what kind of dog you have that is so perfect with no skin or coat issues!

3/26/14 Update: I’ve since learned that if you have a dog with skin allergies, oatmeal shampoo is not a good idea, because it feeds the allergy, making it worse.  So I use an all natural dog shampoo bar instead on our dogs – there are many brands available online.

Do we have to use conditioner on our dogs?

Conditioner is not a necessity but as far as if it’s a good idea depends on the kind of coat your dog has. If you have a dog that has issues with excessive shedding and/or has a very curly or coarse coat, I would recommend using a conditioner and I would use a conditioner on them if they were in my shop.

Here’s a quick tip: when using a conditioner on a dog that has issues with excessive shedding, you should apply the conditioner and rub it in against the natural way the coat grows. Really work it into the skin and use the opportunity going against the natural grain of the coat to work up extra shedding hair and get it out while your dog is in the tub. Once you have spiked their hair up like a crazy rocker-dude (or dude-ette), let it sit on their coat for at least 2 or 3 minutes and then rinse with luke-warm water.

How often should we bathe our dogs and why?

We always recommend bathing/grooming dogs every 6-8 weeks. If you bathe/groom before then, you may cause your dog’s skin to dry out and become irritated. If you wait until after 8 weeks, chances are their nails have grown out to where it can become difficult to trim them without cutting the quick of the nail as well they are now a stinky and/or matted mess.

Keeping up on your dogs most basic grooming needs, like brushing, in the interim between grooming appointments will be a lot easier as well if you maintain a 6 or 8 week grooming schedule.

3/26/2014 Update: Using an all natural dog shampoo bar allows us to bathe our dogs weekly (if we have time) or twice a month  (which is what we do). It’s such a mild product that it’s safe to use more often and it works very well so it does keep our dogs smelling nicer when we’d like to wait longer for their next bath.

Can we use people shampoo on our dogs?

I would not recommend shampoo formulated for humans on a dog, especially if your dog has any skin allergies or issues related to such. Dogs have a different kind of hair than people do and many breeds even have an undercoat that needs to be maintained.

We have to remember that even a tiny Yorkie is a member of the K-9 family and they originate from distant ancestors, like the wolf, meant to live in inclement conditions while hunting and surviving in the wild. Their skin and coat, many, many generations later, is a product of that.

Shampoos that are originally formulated for humans often times with have a lot of dies, perfumes and chemicals that might be perfectly fine and/or needed for a human head but may not be well suited and/or harsh for the natural oils in a dogs skin that are absolutely necessary to maintain the luster and quality of a the good coat they need.


Thank you, Angela, for taking the time to answer my questions.  I now understand why we do what we do.

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