As busy pet parents, we don’t always have the time to bathe our dogs when they need it. This is especially true for specific breeds or mixes that need to be bathed more often than others.
For some lucky dogs, bathing is only required once every few weeks or even a few times a year. It’s important not to overbathe your dog as this can lead to a reduction in the natural oils their skin produces that help protect their coat and keep it healthy.
However, some dogs are just more prone to getting dirty between bathtimes than others, and some dogs have a natural odor that’s, well, unpleasant to the human nose.
So, if you’re looking for a dry dog shampoo to help keep your dog looking and smelling his best between bathtimes, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into the pros and cons of dry dog shampoo and help you find the best solution to keeping your dog clean between his bath routine.
Let’s get started!
What Is Dry Dog Shampoo And How Does It Work?
Dry dog shampoos are generally made with starchy powders that help absorb oils in your dog’s coat.
Like humans, dogs produce oils in their skin that build up over time. This oily substance, called Sebum, is an important part of what helps keep your dog’s skin and coat shiny and healthy. Sebum also produces a natural antibacterial property that helps protect your dog against bacterial growth.
Amazingly, sebum is also what causes that “doggy odor” that gives your dog his own special scent. Not all dogs have a noticeable sebum odor, but this scent is what helps set your dog apart in the canine kingdom. It’s like his own little business card that helps other dogs recognize and remember him after meeting him just one time.
Although sebum is important, it can build up overtime, which is why dogs do need the occasional bath or rinse.
However, bathing your dog too much or using the wrong products on your dog to keep him clean can actually reduce the natural production of sebum, which can lead to skin issues and a breakdown of your dog’s natural oils, which can then lead to an increase in bacteria growth on the skin and coat.
This is where dry dog shampoo comes in.
Dry dog shampoo is a product designed specifically for dogs that contains powders and other ingredients designed to help absorb oils in your dog’s skin and coat. Often, dry dog shampoos come in aerosol cans, powder containers, or sprays that can be sprayed directly over your dog’s coat and rubbed into the fur.
Application of dry dog shampoo is easy, takes less than five minutes, and typically provides you with instant “clean” looking and smelling results.
For owners who are looking for a way to keep their dog smelling their best and looking fresh between bath times, dry dog shampoo may be an alluring solution.
However, you also have the option of using waterless dog shampoos, which work similarly to dry dog shampoos by absorbing the oil but also working as a detangler. Waterless dog shampoos may be safer for dogs than dry dog shampoo made with powders as they also are less likely to strip your dog’s coat of his natural oils so drastically.
But while both waterless and dry dog shampoos do pose a temporary fix for your dog’s stinky and unsightly buildup of sebum, they also come with their fair share of pros and cons.
The Pros and Cons Of Using Dry Dog Shampoo On Your Dog
Dry dog shampoos are not designed to replace routine bath times.
Dry dog shampoos can be a great alternative to keeping your dog looking and smelling clean between bathtime, and it can even help prolong when your next bath time is needed. Dry dog shampoos are also helpful for keeping dogs who hate water looking their best until you absolutely HAVE to rinse them.
With that being said, not all dry dog shampoos are made equally, and just because a dry dog shampoo is made specifically for dogs does not mean that it is safe. Furthermore, dry dog shampoos may seem to “fix” the stinky or dirty dog problem, but in essence these products are really just covering up the debris, dirt and dust on your dog’s coat.
Remember, no amount of dry dog shampoo can replace dog-safe soap and water to thoroughly clean a dirty dog. Furthermore, overuse of dry dog shampoo or the use of improper dry dog shampoo can actually be unsafe for your furry friend.
Dry dog shampoo should be used primarily as a quick fix for between baths as it is typically only designed to absorb the natural oils in your dog’s skin and fur. Using dry dog shampoo too often can reduce the production of these natural oils, which can lead to future problems for your dog including skin irritation, bacteria buildup, worsened odor, overproduction of oils and more.
Worse still, some dry dog shampoos contain unhealthy ingredients that may sound safe but are actually linked to health issues in dogs.
Most importantly, try and steer clear of dry dog shampoo products that contain DMDM Hydantoin, FD&C Blue #1, artificial fragrances, preservatives, alcohols, and dyes. These products have been linked to cancer in dogs.
When looking for the best dry dog shampoo for your dog, you should also try and remember that this is a temporary fix, not a solution or alternative to routine bath time.
Keep in mind that dry shampoo cannot:
- Remove dirt, debris, dust, grime, grease or dirt
- Repel dirt, grime or grease
- Stop the production of oils
- Actually clean your dog
- Remove dander-inducing allergens in your dog’s fur
However, dry dog shampoo can:
- Temporarily reduce doggy odor
- Absorb oils and reduce the look of greasy fur
- Give your dog a temporarily “clean” appearance
What To Look For In The Best (And Safest) Dog Dry Shampoo For Dogs
Look for dry dog shampoos that are organic and made with natural ingredients.
There are plenty of dry dog shampoo options available both online and at local pet shops and pet boutiques.
However, remember that just because a product states that it is safe and specified for dog use does not make it so. As a dog parent, it’s up to you to do plenty of research on your dog’s dry dog shampoo and to determine if the ingredients inside the dry dog shampoo are safe.
Most experts agree that the safest dry dog shampoo for dogs is going to be a dry dog shampoo that is certified organic or at least made with all natural ingredients.
This is because certified organic dry dog shampoos are less likely to contain any of the above specified ingredients that have been proven to be harmful to dogs.
With that being said, if you are using a dry dog shampoo in moderation, a quality made dry dog shampoo should be okay when used just once in a while.
Still, remember that the substances you are putting on your dog’s coat will make their way into your dog’s skin. Your dog may also lick his fur or coat, especially if the dry dog shampoo has a sweet smell.
It’s also important not to use a dry dog shampoo if your dog has serious skin sensitivities, skin allergies or skin wounds. Also remember that dry dog shampoos are not designed to replace a good bath.
So, is your dog a candidate for dry dog shampoo? If you’re not sure where to look for in some of the best dry dog shampoo options, we have listed a few of our favorite products for you to consider below.
The Bodhi Dog Store Waterless Dog Shampoo
First on our list of dry dog shampoo for dogs is a waterless dog shampoo by The Bodhi Dog Store. This dry dog shampoo made our list because it is made with all natural ingredients and is certified dog safe.
We also like that this dry dog shampoo has been veterinarian approved and has even won the 2020 Family Choice Award.
It is made for dogs that have sensitivities as well, and is gentle on sensitive skin. This product should also not irritate your dog or lead to allergies, as it is made with all natural extracts. We also like that this dry dog shampoo is free of parabens detergents, alcohol, SLS, sulphates or Ethyl alcohol.
All of these ingredients can be harmful to your dog’s skin and hinder his natural development of the oils he produces that help protect him from bacteria growth, as we mentioned above.
This dry dog shampoo is not only made for dogs – you can also use it on pets of all kinds including cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, horses, rabbits and even pigs! It is even safe to use on puppies and kittens.
The scent is lavender, which is calming and can last for several days.
Exershield Dry Dog Shampoos
Another dry dog shampoo we like is the above powder-formulated dry dog shampoo by Exershield. Again, this is a dried dog shampoo made with all natural ingredients including essential oils like lavender, chamomile, frankincense and cedarwood oil.
The powder formula is easy to apply and can be simply brushed out. It works by absorbing the excess oils in your dog’s skin and fur and can help leave your dog smelling and looking fresh and clean.
The scent is also designed to help reduce anxiety and stress in fearful dogs. We give bonus points to this dry dog shampoo for also coming in paper packaging, making it better for the environment!
Like all dry dog shampoos, this dry dog shampoo should only be used in moderation.
PetPotion Waterless Shampoo For Dogs
We’ve listed PetPotion Waterless Shampoo For Dogs on our list of dry dog shampoo because this product offers so many different variations for different types of dogs and owners.
It is made with all natural ingredients, but it also comes in different options which allows you to choose a scented dry dog shampoo or an unscented dry dog shampoo. The ingredients can also contain apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and other ingredients that are safe and calming for dogs.
Even though it contains natural scents, this product still describes itself as unscented as it does not contain additives or alcohols to create a smell.
It is also a vet recommended dry dog shampoo that helps to not only deodorize your dog but also balance the PH of his skin and coat.
For dogs with longer fur, this dry dog shampoo can also work as a detangler during grooming to keep our dog’s fur clean and shiny.
Although this would be considered a dry dog shampoo, it actually sprays on wet and dries clean. For this reason, it may be able to be used more safely than some dry dog shampoos, though we recommend you speak with your vet and do more thorough research before opting to use this product in place of routine bath times.
Begley’s Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo
Begley’s Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo is another product we like that falls under the same category as a dry dog shampoo without the powdery ingredients.
Like all of the dry dog shampoo products on this list, Begley’s Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo is made with all natural ingredients and is safe to use on both dogs and cats of different ages. It comes in a 16 ounce bottle and is completely free of dyes, caustics, additives, synthetic fragrances, chlorine, parabens, phthalates, formaldehydes, or triclosans, which can cause irritation and harm to your dog.
This dry dog shampoo is designed to not only help keep your dog clean between bath time, but it can also help keep your dog’s skin and coat shiny, healthy and fresh.
You can use this dry dog shampoo a few different ways, but experts recommend spraying it on a towel first before applying it to your dog’s face.
We also like that this dry dog shampoo is environmentally friendly and that it comes in different natural scents including oatmeal mango, tea tree oil, citrus and lavender.
Pure and Natural Organic Waterless Dog Shampoo
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This waterless dry dog shampoo by Pure and Natural is a lesser known dry dog shampoo that we’ve listed due to it’s all natural ingredients. It is an unscented formula that comes in a 7.5 ounce container and includes natural ingredients like lavender oil.
This product also foams when applied and can be scrubbed into your dog’s fur. It dries clean and leaves your dog’s coat shiny and less greasy. It can also help alleviate itching and sensitivity on your dog’s skin when used as directed.
Interestingly, this product also specifies that it will not negatively impact flea treatments on your dog, which can be a concern with some dry dog shampoos.
Burt’s Bees Natural Waterless Dog Shampoo
Burt’s Bees is a product that has long been famous for human use, but did you know this brand also makes natural and healthy products for dog use?
We like this dry dog shampoo created by Burt’s Bees for dogs that is made with an apple and honey scent and that is all natural, safe and gentle.
It comes in a spray and can be applied directly to your dog’s skin and coat. You have the option of rubbing it in, leaving it on or brushing it out. The spray goes on wet but then dries to leave your dog’s coat looking and feeling clean.
Burt’s Bees Natural waterless Dog Shampoo also helps to soothe skin sensitivity and itching, and is 100% safe for both dogs and puppies. It is also PH balanced so it will not harm your dog’s skin and coat’s production of those natural oils we talked about.
While we do like that this is an all natural product, we should note that it is not 100% natural. It is 99.7% natural, so be sure to read the ingredients carefully before you use this product and make sure your dog doesn’t have any unique sensitives to its ingredients.
How To Make Your Own Dry Dog Shampoo At Home
You can simply use cornstarch on your dog from time to time to help absorb excess oils.
If you’re concerned about buying a dry dog shampoo without knowing exactly what went into making it, we can’t blame you. This is especially true for some pet parents who have four-legged fur kids with skin sensitivities or issues.
Still, if your dog is especially oily, there is nothing wrong with using household ingredients that are safe for Fido, don’t break the bank, and are simply made with only a few ingredients.
One of the best homemade options for dry dog shampoo, according to experts, is going to be cornstarch.
Just be sure that your dog does not have a corn allergy before using this product, of course.
When using cornstarch on your dog in place of a dry dog shampoo, powder a bit onto your dog’s body and let it sit to absorb the oils. Then rub the product in and brush it out with a dog grooming brush.
If you want to get fancy, you can make a dry dog shampoo recipe that has a bit of a scent to it. You will need:
- 1 Cup of Baking Soda
- 1 Cup of Cornstarch
- A Few Drops of Essential Oil (see below for our list of safe essential oils for dogs)
- A Clean and Dry Empty Spice Container (for application)
- A Mixing Bowl
- A Funnel
Combine the above ingredients into the mixing bowl and be sure the solution is mixed thoroughly. Then use your funnel to pour the ingredients into your empty spice container.
And there you go – you now have your very own homemade dry dog shampoo! Of course, remember to use this dry dog shampoo in moderation and do not use it as an alternative for routine bath times.
We should also note that adding essential oils to your dog’s homemade dry dog shampoo is optional. Some dogs are more sensitive than others when it comes to scent, and an undiluted essential oil can be irritating to dogs.
It’s also important to be sure you use dog-safe essential oils, like those listed below:
- Frankincense Oil
- Ginger Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Chamomile Oil
- Myrrh oil
- Citrus Oil
- And Peppermint Oil
Other Products We Love For Keeping Your Dog Clean Between Bathtime
Dog grooming wipes can work in conjunction with dry dog shampoo to keep your dog looking and smelling fresh.
Dry dog shampoo can be helpful for those in between bath-time days when your dog gets a little stinkier or greasier than you would like. However, not every dog is the ideal candidate for dry dog shampoo.
Furthermore, dry dog shampoo often simply masks the problem without truly cleaning your dog from nose to tail.
If you’re looking for a more thorough way to help keep your dog clean, we recommend considering the below products to use in conjunction with a good dry dog shampoo to help ensure your dog is looking and feeling his best between bathtime.
Pogi’s Hypoallergenic Grooming Wipes
Grooming wipes are a home grooming essential for both dogs and cats, and can greatly help decrease odor, dandar and debris buildup between bathtime.
When looking for the best grooming wipes to use in conjunction with dry dog shampoo, we recommend looking for natural wipes that are also hypoallergenic.
The above dog grooming wipes by Pogi’s is an all natural and plant based product that is made with hypoallergenic materials that not only help clean your dog’s coat and fur but also deodorize as well.
These wipes are safe to use on your dog’s paws, bottom and face as well.
You can order these grooming wipes in different counts depending on your dog’s size or the number of pets in your home. And while we are discussing primarily dry dog shampoo and grooming, these grooming wipes can be used on both dogs and cats.
Burt’s Bees Multipurpose Hypoallergenic Grooming Wipes
If you liked the Burt’s Bees Dry Dog Shampoo listed above then you’ll like this dog deodorizing spray and grooming wipe combo provided by them here. These hypoallergenic grooming wipes can be used for a number of cleaning purposes on your dog from paw wipes to bottom wipes to all over nose-to-tail cleaning wipes.
These wipes help to remove dirt and debris, which dry dog shampoo cannot do alone. The wipes are also safe for dogs with sensitive skin and are fine to use both on adult dogs and puppies.
The ingredients include honey to help alleviate itching and the order includes a deodorizing spray that contains apple and rosemary.
Remember, while we do like dry dog shampoo and grooming wipes, these products are still not equipped to replace an occasional bath for your dog.
WashBar Natural Dog Deodorizing Spray
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Last, we have a deodorizing spray by WashBar. Of course, this deodorizing spray is made with all natural ingredients and, unlike many dry dog shampoo products, is safe to be used every day. It includes primrose and lavender oil to not only help reduce doggy odor but also help your dog feel calm and relaxed.
Most importantly, this dog deodorizing spray is free of harmful ingredients like alcohol, synthetic perfumes and other products that could trigger sensitives and cause irritation for your dog.
So, Dry Dog Shampoo – Is It Really Worth It?
Remember that using dry dog shampoo too often on your dog can be harmful.
When used appropriately, dry dog shampoo can be helpful to many busy dog parents. However, keep in mind that this product is only a temporary fix for a dirty dog, and it does not actually clean your dog.
Instead, it masks odor and helps reduce the appearance of greasy fur by absorbing oils in your dog’s skin.
And while this absorption of oils can make your dog “look” better temporarily, it can also be harmful to your dog in the long run if you use dry dog shampoos in excess.
Before you choose to use dry dog shampoo on your dog, consider his unique health and sensitivities. Dogs with allergies, skin issues, or dogs who have sensitivities to products or who are prone to suffering from issues like hotspots may not be good candidates to use dry dog shampoo.
If you’re not sure if your dog is a good candidate for dry dog shampoo, it’s never a bad idea to speak with your veterinarian.
Your vet is your best source for information regarding the health of your dog and they should be able to help steer you in the right direction as to the safest products for keeping your dog looking and feeling his best between baths.
And remember, while dry dog shampoo can help keep your dog looking clean temporarily, there is no real alternative for actual dog shampoo, water, and a good scrub down.
So, what do you think about using dry dog shampoo on your dog? Have you ever used any of the products named above on our list?
Share your opinion with us and our readers in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.