There’s nothing quite like the feel of your dog’s coat after a bath (well, after she finishes the zoomies and dries off).
Even if your dog normally sports a soft and silky coat, it undoubtedly feels and looks its best after being lathered and rinsed with a good shampoo specifically designed for dogs.
But there’s one way to make her coat feel even better: Follow up the shampoo with a high-quality conditioner! This will not only make her feel even softer than normal, it’ll help keep her coat looking and feeling its best for longer too.
We’ll talk about dog conditioners below and explain the kinds of things you want to look for when making your purchase. We’ll then finish up by recommending five of the best conditioners on the market.
No, your dog doesn’t need a conditioner in the same sense that she needs food, vaccinations, and a good dog bed.
She isn’t going to get sick or lose all of her hair because you don’t use a conditioner. She’ll still get clean when you bathe her, and her fur will still feel pretty good once you’re done.
But that doesn’t mean conditioners aren’t worthwhile. Conditioners help make your dog’s fur feel even softer and look even shinier than normal, and they’ll also help her skin feel softer too. Most conditioners will make her smell nicer as well as reduce the prevalence of mats, knots, and tangles.
While there are some shampoos designed to be gentle for dogs with dry, itchy skin, some owners may notice that their dog’s skin stops itching after simply adding a conditioner to their dog’s bathing routine, while others may note that their dogs don’t shed as much.
A human conditioner probably won’t cause your dog to spontaneously combust or anything, but it won’t be good for her either.
Your shampoo and conditioner are designed for the pH of human, rather than canine, skin. This means they will strip away the oils from her skin, dry out her coat, and potentially lead to irritation.
Sure, some owners can probably get away with doing this (some dogs simply have more resilient skin and coats than others). But it is slightly risky, and the upside is pretty limited – your conditioner is probably more expensive than your dog’s anyway.
Don’t just go out and pick the first conditioner you see. Consider the kinds of things you and your dog need in a conditioner, and give some thought to the following:
→ Consider the scents available. You’ll want to pick a scent that smells good to you, but keep in mind that specific scents may irritate your dog’s nose. In these cases, don’t hesitate to make a change, and try to keep track of which scents cause the most adverse effects for your pup.
→ When possible, look for products that are made in the USA. US-made products are generally going to be safer and more effective than those made in countries with poor safety- and quality-control standards. Conditioners produced in Canada or Western Europe are probably also fine.
→ Decide whether a standalone conditioner or a combination shampoo-conditioner is better for your pet. If you’re a low-maintenance kind of owner and you have a dog with a low-maintenance coat, a two-in-one product may be a good choice. On the other hand, if you have very particular tastes or your dog has particular needs, separate products are probably the better option.
→ Look for an eco-friendly option if you bathe your dog outdoors. Many shampoos and conditioners can cause problems for local stream and river critters, so opt for an eco-friendly option if you use an outdoor tub or dog-washing hose attachment outside to wash your pet.
If you’ve ever looked for a dog conditioner before, you’ve likely noticed that there are dozens of products on the market. This often causes owners to throw up their hands and just pick one randomly.
But because the differences between high- and low-quality conditioners are substantial, this is a bad idea. Many low-quality conditioners are essentially worthless, and they’re unlikely to improve your dog’s coat health. Some may even exacerbate any skin or coat problems she already has.
Instead, just try to choose from the five listed below. Each of these are safe and effective products which should help make your dog’s fur feel its best.
Features: Isle of Dogs Everyday Jasmine & Vanilla Conditioner is designed to smooth, moisturize, and protect your dog’s fur, while also making it easier to brush through tangles. It is made with Isle of Dogs’ signature Warm Floral Jasmine and Vanilla Fragrance to help ensure your dog smells great after each bath.
Work a small amount of Isle of Dogs Everyday Conditioner into your dog’s fur after shampooing her. Let the conditioner sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it out completely. Finish by brushing her thoroughly to eliminate any tangles and to help her fur feel as soft as possible.
Features: Earthbath Conditioner is designed to condition and detangle your dog’s fur, and because it is made with colloidal oatmeal, it’ll also moisturize your dog’s skin. It smells fantastic too, as it is made with food-grade vanilla and almond extracts.
Earthbath Conditioner is an environmentally friendly, 100%-cruelty free, biodegradable product (meaning that it is completely safe to use outdoors). Also, unlike some other pet shampoos and conditioners, it will not wash away your dog’s topical flea treatment.
Features: Burt’s Bees may be most famous for producing chapsticks and other products for people, but they also make a number of high-quality pet products, like their Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Conditioner for Dogs.
Made with colloidal oat flour, this conditioner will not only make your dog’s fur feel great, it’ll moisturize her skin too. And, unsurprisingly given the manufacturer, this conditioner also contains honey, which will help maximize the shine of your dog’s coat. Burt’s Bees Conditioner for Dogs is pH-balanced to suit your dog’s skin and a 100% cruelty-free product.
Features: Warren London Guava & Mangosteen Conditioner is designed for dogs and owners who appreciate boutique-style beauty products. Made with guava, mangosteen, and butter, Warren London Conditioner will remoisturize your dog’s coat and skin, helping her fur to look and feel its best, while also helping her smell fantastic.
Unlike many other conditioners, which need to be rinsed out shortly after being applied, you can just leave Warren London Conditioner on your dog’s fur and then follow up with a good brushing.
Features: Wahl Four-in-One Dog Shampoo and Conditioner is a fantastic pet product that proves you don’t have to spend a lot of money to obtain a great conditioner. And because it includes a shampoo and conditioner, this completely plant-based product will save you a few bucks and make it easier to bathe your pet.
Wahl Four-in-One Shampoo and Conditioner isn’t only designed to help smooth and detangle your dog’s hair – it is also designed to help calm your dog through the inclusion of lavender and chamomile (which will also make your dog smell great).
Getting your dog her own fur conditioner may seem like a bit of an extravagance, but you’ll likely love the way it makes her look and feel. Conditioners aren’t expensive, and a single bottle will probably last you months, so they’re definitely worth checking out.
Do you already use a conditioner for your dog’s fur? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Do you use one of the five products we recommended above? Let us know how it (or any other conditioner) has worked for you!
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Last update on 2019-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.