Dogs can experience a variety of irritating skin conditions ranging from allergies to bacterial skin infections throughout their lives. While these ailments can’t always be avoided, a medicated dog shampoo can help treat some of the symptoms associated with Spot’s skin condition.
Below, we’ll explain which health conditions may require the use of a medicated shampoo, outline the different types of medicated shampoos, and recommend a few of the best!
Best Medicated Dog Shampoo: Quick Picks
- #1 Veterinary Formula Clinical Care [Best Overall Medicated Shampoo]: An antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antifungal dog shampoo that can be used multiple times per week and will not wash off flea and tick medications.
- #2 TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Shampoo [Best Medicated Shampoo for Itchy Skin]: A soothing dog shampoo containing alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, and colloidal oatmeal to stop itching quickly.
- #3 Pet MD Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo [Best Medicated Shampoo for Fungal Infections]: An effective shampoo with antifungal properties that is effective for eliminating yeasts, fungi, and similar canine skin conditions.
Different Types of Medicated Shampoos
Below, we’ll discuss some of the different types of medicated dog shampoo that are available on the market.
Note that many shampoos will address more than one of these issues, so it’s imperative that you run your shampoo of choice by your veterinarian before using it on your dog.
- Antiparasitic — Antiparasitic shampoos often contain sulfur which can help eliminate some skin parasites like mites. Other shampoos use benzoyl peroxide which can help flush excess oil and demodex mites out of the hair follicles. These shampoos can help kill some parasites on contact or even produce a temporary barrier to protect your pooch.
- Antibacterial — These shampoos are designed to treat bacterial infections. Antibacterial shampoos usually contain chlorhexidine which is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial medication. Some antibacterial shampoos will also contain benzoyl peroxide as it can help fight off certain bacteria, clean the affected area, and help with any associated acne.
- Antifungal — Antifungal shampoos often contain miconazole or ketoconazole, which are both antifungal medications. You might also find chlorhexidine in these shampoos since it can help thoroughly clean the skin and prevent further growth of fungi.
- Anti-itching — These soothing shampoos often contain colloidal oatmeal to help remove dry, flaky skin and lock in moisture.
- Moisturizing — These shampoos are great for treating dry, itchy skin and often have embedded alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) which can help cleanse and dry moisture to the skin. Moisturizing dog shampoos usually contain colloidal oatmeal which can help ease the skin and/or allantoin which helps smooth and produce healthy skin cells.
- Exfoliating — Exfoliating dog shampoo often contains coal tar and/or salicylic acid which can help clean and loosen the skin to make way for new, healthy skin cells. This type of medicated shampoo is great for conditions like seborrhea and dandruff. These shampoos might also contain some alpha and beta hydroxy acids to help loosen dead skin cells and clean the surrounding area.
The Seven Best Medicated Shampoos
Below, we’ll share a few of our favorite medicated shampoos for your mutt. Just remember to check with your veterinarian before trying out one of these shampoos on your furry best friend.
1. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care
About: This antiparasitic shampoo from Synergy Labs helps eliminate parasites while hydrating your dog’s skin with colloidal oatmeal and allantoin.
The shampoo only has six ingredients (coal tar, salicylic acid, micronized sulfur, colloidal oatmeal and allantoin) which makes it easier to know exactly what you’re treating your dog with and avoid harsh chemicals.
- Has antibacterial, antiparasitic, and moisturizing properties
- First ingredient is coal tar to help exfoliate your dog’s skin
- Shampoo can be used two to three times a week for heavy infections
- Will not wash off topical flea and tick treatments
- Safe for dogs over 12 weeks of age
- Effective for treating a variety of conditions including fleas, mites, dandruff, and scabies
- Provides pretty quick relief
- Helps to exfoliate, soothe, and moisturize the skin
- This shampoo is fragrance-free and reeks of tar, which may not be ideal for some owners
- May not help with fungal infections
2. TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Shampoo
About: This medicated shampoo from TropiClean has alpha and beta hydroxy acids along with colloidal oatmeal to help soothe dry, flaking, itchy, or scaly skin. This made in the USA product also contains aloe, making it an ideal dog shampoo for sensitive skin.
- Fast-acting shampoo designed to soothe itchy or irritated skin
- Can be used on dogs and cats of all ages
- Provides immediate relief for affected dogs
- Shampoo should sit on the skin for at least three minutes before being rinsed off
- Comes in sizes ranging from 8 ounces to 20 gallons
- Dogs seemed to love the immediate relief provided by this shampoo
- Shampoo has a thick, foaming texture which some pooch parents prefer
- Soothing shampoo is gentle enough for regular use
- Thick formula needs to be rinsed out thoroughly so bath time may take a bit longer
- The fragrance was too strong for some pooch parents
- Contains aloe so you’ll need to make sure your dog doesn’t eat or lick it
3. Pet MD Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo
About: This medicated shampoo from Pet MD is formulated with chlorhexidine and ketoconazole making it a great antifungal and antibacterial dog shampoo that helps with mange. And because it is made in federally regulated facilities in the U.S, pup parents can be sure it’s safe for their pet.
- Helps relieve bacterial and fungal or yeast infections
- Included fragrance might help mask odor while Fido recovers
- Shampoo is safe to use two to three times a week throughout treatment period
- Should be allowed to stay on dog for five to ten minutes before rinsing off
- Quick-working shampoo is effective for dogs with bacterial or fungal infections
- Helped some dogs cope with seasonal allergy symptoms
- Shampoo helped soothe hot spots for some dogs
- Thinner formula might run out quickly with large dogs
- Not the best for dogs with white fur, some customers reported slight tinting after using this shampoo
4. Chlorhexidine Shampoo
Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoo that helps combat skin irritation
About: This medicated shampoo from Strawfield pets has a 4% concentration of chlorhexidine, making it a great antibacterial shampoo. The made in the USA shampoo can be used on both dogs and cats (with your vet’s approval).
- Provides quick relief for bacterial and fungal infections
- Scented shampoo comes with an easy dispense pump bottle
- Safe for dogs of all ages
- Should remain on dog’s coat for five to ten minutes before rinsing off
- Owners loved how this shampoo’s scent and formula helped their dogs smell fresh
- Medicated shampoo helped treat bacterial and fungal infections
- Shampoo eased itching skin
- Can help alleviate hot spots
- Some owners didn’t like the fragrance
- Shampoo has a thick texture that must be washed out thoroughly
5. Smiling Paws Antibacterial & Antifungal Shampoo
About: This medicated shampoo from Smiling Paws has chlorhexidine and ketoconazole to help fight bacterial and fungal infections. Designed for dogs and cats, this shampoo provides fast relief for dry, irritated skin.
- Can be used to help treat hot spots, fungus, and mange
- Shampoo thoroughly cleans the skin and leaves behind a soft, gentle fragrance
- Fast-acting formula provides quick relief to irritated skin
- Lathering formula should be left on for 15 minutes before rinsing out
- Owners loved the light, fresh scent of this product
- Shampoo is effective at managing bacterial and fungal skin infections
- Shampoo provided fast relief for red, irritated skin
- Gentle formula may not be effective for severe infections
- Some pet owners prefer fragrance-free shampoos
6. Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo for Dogs
About: This benzoyl peroxide medicated shampoo from Pet MD is perfect for dogs suffering from acne, as well as itchy or greasy skin. This medicated shampoo is made in the USA and can be used on dogs of all ages.
- Cleansing shampoo helps exfoliate the skin with embedded salicylic acid
- Should be left on for five to ten minutes before rinsing out thoroughly
- Has a light, fresh citrus scent to help manage odor
- Helps soothe itching or inflamed skin
- Shampoo helps ease excessive itching, biting, and scratching
- Effective for treating dog acne
- Safe for use on both dogs and cats
- This shampoo isn’t the best pick for dogs with dry skin
- Benzoyl peroxide can stain fabrics so you’ll want to use this shampoo with care
What Are the Benefits of Medicated Dog Shampoos?
A regular shampoo is sufficient for most doggos, but medicated dog shampoos are better in other cases. Some medicated dog shampoos provide a variety of benefits for your best buddy, including the following:
- Great For Treating Targeted Skin and Coat Problems — General dog shampoos are designed to simply clean and maintain a dog’s coat. A medicated shampoo is designed to address specific problems, whether that’s eliminating a microorganism or soothing flaky skin.
- May Allow You To Avoid Other Medications — Some oral medications can be tough on your dog’s body as they affect your dog’s entire system rather than just targeted areas. Medicated dog shampoo may be a gentler solution since it only affects the outer surface of the skin. And because many medicated shampoos have antibacterial properties or antifungal properties, they might be enough to keep your dog’s skin condition at bay without having to employ other treatments.
- May Provide Rapid, Effective Relief — Medicated dog shampoo may be able to provide rapid relief to your pooch as the active ingredients are absorbed quickly through the skin.
- Affordable — Oftentimes, medicated dog shampoos are a super affordable option for treating or easing your dog’s skin condition.
Common Skin Conditions a Medicated Dog Shampoo May Help
If you suspect your dog has a skin or coat problem, you’ll want to set up an appointment with your veterinarian before using a medicated shampoo.
Using the wrong shampoo can worsen your dog’s condition leading to more irritation and delaying the process of recovery.
Here are a few of the skin conditions that medicated dog shampoo may be able to help treat.
Note that it’s possible that your dog could be suffering from a combination of these ailments, so it may take some time to fully soothe your dog’s skin.
- Dry Skin — Dry skin is usually earmarked by excessive itchiness, and flaking or red skin. It can be caused by a variety of factors including changes in the weather, dietary imbalances, or even excessive bathing. Dry skin may also be a symptom of one of the other conditions listed below.
- Hot Spots — Hot spots are also known as acute moist dermatitis and appear as inflamed, red, periodically bleeding spots on the skin. They can occur anywhere, but they’re most common on the face, neck, limbs, tail base, or hips. Hot spots are usually a result of an underlying condition that causes excessive licking, moisture, or itchiness.
- Ringworm — Ringworm is caused by fungi that live on the outermost layer of the skin and hair follicles of affected dogs. It is passed through direct contact with the fungus and can cause hair loss usually in a circular pattern, inflamed skin, and brittle claws.
- Allergies — Symptoms associated with skin allergies are usually caused by exposure to environmental allergens, foods, or a reaction to flea bites. Allergies often cause itchy skin, but they can also cause chronic ear infections, constant licking, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Acne — That’s right — dogs can get acne just like people! And it looks pretty similar too, as they’ll often display irritating pimples or red bumps, which usually occur around the muzzle.
- Parasites — Certain parasites like fleas and mites can cause skin irritation. Signs of these parasites include excessive itching, biting, or licking, inflammation and redness, scabs, and abnormally patchy skin.
- Fungal and Bacterial Skin Infections — Bacterial infections and fungal infections (such as a yeast infection) can lead to itchiness, crusty skin, pimples, and hair loss. While infections can be spread through direct contact, these infections are sometimes caused by an underlying condition.
- Seborrhea and Dandruff — Seborrhea is a skin condition caused by the overproduction of sebum in a dog’s skin. This can lead to red, itchy, and inflamed skin around the back, face, and folds in the skin. The affected areas can flake off into whitish particles called dandruff. Seborrhea can be a primary condition as some dogs are genetically predisposed to develop it. It can also be caused by an underlying medical problem such as hormonal imbalances, parasites, allergies, dietary imbalance, obesity, or musculoskeletal disease.
Medicated Dog Shampoo FAQs
Are you still unsure about using a medicated dog shampoo with your precious pooch? Here are a couple of frequently asked questions and answers to expand your understanding.
What is medicated dog shampoo?
A medicated dog shampoo is a shampoo that has active ingredients designed to target or alleviate your dog’s skin condition. These shampoos should generally only be used when your dog needs it under the direction of your veterinarian.
When should you use a medicated dog shampoo?
You should use a medicated dog shampoo whenever it is directed by your veterinarian. Medicated dog shampoo shouldn’t be used for your dog’s regular bath. If you suspect your dog is having a skin issue, you should set up an appointment with your veterinarian and come up with a treatment plan together.
Which dog shampoo is good for itchy or dry skin?
This depends on what is causing your dog itchy or dry skin. In general, ingredients like colloidal oatmeal can help ease itchy or dry skin, but you’ll want to determine the cause of your dog’s skin condition to find the ideal shampoo for his needs.
Can you treat ringworm with a dog shampoo?
Ringworm is usually treated with a combination of prescribed medication and strict hygiene practices (like bathing with a medicated shampoo). A medicated dog shampoo most likely won’t treat ringworm on its own since you’ll still have to engage in rigid cleaning around the home until the infection is cleared, but it can certainly help eliminate the fungus.
How often should I bathe my dog with a medicated shampoo?
The frequency with which you should use a medicated shampoo depends on a variety of factors, including your pup’s specific health problem, his age, and the active ingredient in the shampoo. Some require frequent reapplications, while others mustn’t be used too frequently, as they can dry the skin. Just be sure to follow the product’s instructions and your vet’s guidance.
Will a medicated shampoo help dogs with sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is a relatively common problem for dogs, but each individual case is often unique. Medications and shampoos that’ll help one dog’s sensitive skin may do nothing to help another. Accordingly, it is a good idea to discuss the issue with your vet.
Can I use a human product to treat my dog’s skin condition?
While some human products may be safe to use for treating canine skin inflammation or other skin or coat conditions, many contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Others may simply have inappropriate pH levels for your dog’s coat. Accordingly, it is wisest to simply stick to medicated shampoos for dogs and avoid using a human shampoo on your pooch.
Medicated dog shampoo can work wonders for soothing Spot’s skin. Just remember to craft your treatment plan with your veterinarian (especially if your pooch has sensitive skin) in order to help Fido feel his best as soon as possible.
What medicated dog shampoos has your pooch tried? How do you keep your dog looking and feeling his best? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!