The best waterless dog shampoo
Just like us, washing a dog too often can strip them of the natural oils they need to maintain a healthy coat and skin. But dogs have a knack for getting into messes that can leave them filthy and smelling nasty. Waterless dog shampoos work by absorbing oils and loosening grime so you can wipe your dog clean. They also tend to leave a pleasant scent behind.
The best waterless dog shampoo is the Pawstruck No-Rinse Dry Dog Shampoo. It sprays on easily, and it’s made in the United States.
What to know before you buy a waterless dog shampoo
Waterless dog shampoo types
There are five types of waterless dog shampoos.
- Aerosol shampoos come out in a fine, powder-like mist. They’re among the easiest to apply and leave very little wetness behind. However, dogs with breathing problems and respiratory issues can inhale it, causing some damage.
- Foam shampoos take some elbow grease and time to massage into your dog’s coat and skin, but they’re also easy to measure out and spread around.
- Gel shampoos, like foam ones, need to be massaged into your dog’s coat and skin. Unlike foam, they have a thick consistency. Sensitive dogs and those that don’t like to be touched much can rebel against gel shampoos.
- Powder shampoos are the best for dogs with especially oily coats and skin or dogs that have gotten into watery or oily messes as they quickly absorb most of it. However, they’re the hardest and messiest to apply.
- Spray shampoos are similar to aerosols but are liquid rather than powder. These are best for cleaning targeted areas rather than your whole dog. It can be easy to oversaturate areas as you go.
Most waterless dog shampoos have scents, both to mask the smells you’re trying to remove and to try and increase the number of days before your dog needs another “bath.” Lavender is a popular scent thanks to its calming properties, as are citrusy smells.
Remember, though, how much better a dog’s sense of smell is compared to ours. If you think it’s too strong, your dog is likely overwhelmed. As such, it’s always best to go with the mildest scents you can find.
Most waterless dog shampoos come with 8, 10 or 16 ounces of product, give or take an ounce or two. If you’ve never used a particular shampoo on your dog, buy the smallest size so you don’t waste money if your dog reacts poorly to it.
Waterless dog shampoo features
Dogs have allergies and allergic reactions just like us. If you know your dog has allergy issues you can find hypoallergenic waterless dog shampoos. Alternatively, if you know what your dog is allergic to you can search for shampoos that exclude that ingredient.
Topical flea and tick treatment clashes
Some flea and tick treatments require you to apply them to your dog’s coat and skin so they can be absorbed. As many waterless dog shampoos are designed to absorb similar substances, some can strip these topical treatments away if applied together. If you need to apply both at once, look for a shampoo that explicitly states it won’t interfere with such topical treatments.
Waterless dog shampoo cost
Small quantities of basic shampoo rarely cost more than $10 while better and larger qualities typically top out around $20. The best and largest can cost $30-plus.
Waterless dog shampoo FAQ
Do I need to bathe my dog normally if I use waterless dog shampoo?
A. Yes. Waterless dog shampoos are more of a stopgap cleaning for dogs that get messy and smelly before it’s time for their next bath. Their clean isn’t as deep or long-lasting as a normal bath with normal dog shampoo.
Do I need to stop my dog from licking its coat after using a waterless dog shampoo?
A. Typically, no. Though, if you slather some on and don’t wipe your dog clean after there could be enough on their coat to make licking potentially dangerous. To avoid this, make sure you’re using nontoxic formulas, following all the application instructions and that you’re wiping your dog down with a towel after application.
Are waterless dog shampoos and dog colognes the same thing?
A. No. Waterless dog shampoos clean your dog by absorbing oils and loosening dirt so you can wipe said oil and dirt away afterward with a brush and a towel. They also usually have scents to help with any smells. Dog cologne is only a scent with no cleaning properties.
Which waterless dog shampoo should I get?
Best of the best waterless dog shampoo
Our take: This is the best waterless shampoo for many reasons.
What we like: It contains 16 ounces of shampoo, plus you don’t need to use much so it lasts for ages. Pawstruck is a U.S.-based small business and the bottle is made of recycled materials. It has a nice citrus scent.
What we dislike: Some consumers received bottles that leaked during shipping. Others found the scent to be too strong. A few people had issues with the nozzle not working.
Best bang for your buck waterless dog shampoo
Wahl Pet-Friendly Waterless No-Rinse Shampoo: available at Amazon
Our take: This is an excellent budget shampoo for dogs that rarely need more than their standard bath.
What we like: It’s foam, contains 7.1 ounces and has a coconut lime verbena scent. It’s pH balanced and contains no alcohol or parabens. It uses a plant-derived oatmeal formula that helps moisturize the skin and soothe itchy skin. It’s made in the U.S.
What we dislike: A few customers noted that it’s easy to use too much, which can make your dog feel oily. Others found the scent to be too strong.
Honorable mention waterless dog shampoo
Our take: This shampoo has several great scent options.
What we like: It’s formulated for sensitive skin and contains no alcohol, detergent, parabens or sulfates. It’s also safe for use on puppies and kittens as well as pregnant animals. It comes in either 8- or 17-ounce sizes and in oatmeal and apple, lavender and lemongrass scents.
What we dislike: A few purchasers had nozzles that ejected the shampoo in a hard, hurtful stream. Others had issues getting shampoo to spray out at all.
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Jordan C. Woika is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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