Choosing the Best Shampoo for Puppies

Oatmeal shampoos formulated for dogs are a great option.


If you’re battling fleas with your puppy, check the label on any product before using it on your puppy, as many of them are not safe for young puppies under 12 weeks old – especially if they’re small-breed puppies. Check with your veterinarian because you are also going to need flea-control protocols. One bath will not end flea infestation.

The best flea shampoo for most puppies under 12 weeks old is Dawn dish soap, as it is safe for most dogs and will kill adult fleas on their body. It doesn’t repel fleas though, so you will need other flea control measures to remove the fleas from your house and bedding. Remember, though, dishwashing soap is not pH formulated for use on a dog’s skin, and it can dry their skin. Only use dishwashing soap in urgent situations.

Choosing the Best Puppy Shampoo

When looking for a shampoo for your puppy, consider these two things:

  1. The shampoo should be formulated for dogs.
  2. You need to be able to keep the suds out of your puppy’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.

Dog skin and human skin are not the same, so using a shampoo made for dogs is ideal to prevent drying out your puppy’s skin.

Most puppies will do just fine with any dog shampoo, so don’t hesitate to grab a bottle from your pet-supply store. For puppies with sensitive skin, an oatmeal shampoo is great to soothe and moisturize. Everyone has an opinion, but one of my favorites is Burt’s Bees for Dogs Oatmeal Shampoo, and I have used it on dogs of all ages.

If your dog will be competing in conformation when she grows up, you may want to switch to a shampoo specifically formulated for her coat type when she is an adult. A fabulous line of high-end dog shampoos and conditioners is the #1 All Systems. My dogs have a harsh coat texture, so I use the #1 All Systems Crisp Coat before shows.

Best “Emergency” Shampoo

Puppy covered in poop and no time to run to the store? Don’t worry. Dawn dish soap is safe for most dogs and will get your puppy back to clean.

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Kate Basedow, LVT is a long-time dog enthusiast. She grew up training and showing dogs, and is active in a variety of dog sports. She earned her Bachelors Degree in English from Cornell University in 2013, and became a licensed veterinary technician in New York in 2017. She has been writing professionally about dogs for most of her life, and has earned multiple awards from the Dog Writers' Association of America. Kate currently has three dogs at home, as well as a cat, two zebra finches, and six ducks.