Dry Shampoo for Dogs

You can use dry shampoo on your dog when a regular bath is not in the cards, but why would you?


If your dog sort of, well, stinks and you don’t want to give a real bath, you may ask yourself, “Can I use dry shampoo on my dog?” The answer is simple: Yes, you can use dry shampoo on your dog. The bigger question is, “Should you use dry shampoo on a dog?”

Dry shampoos for dogs, also known as waterless or no-rinse shampoos, deodorize your dog—and that’s about it. So, while these products may help in a pinch with an odor, they don’t clean your dog. You’re not truly removing any of the dirt from the dog’s skin. The dry formulations may absorb some of the excess oils in your dog’s coat, but your dog will not look freshly bathed. He won’t be shiny and bright with a glossy, flowing coat. He’ll just smell better for a while. Maybe.

How to Use a Dry Dog Shampoo

Most dry shampoos are not powders that you sprinkle on your dog. They’re foams or sprays you work into the dog’s coat, like human hair mousse products.

The word “dry” refers to the fact you don’t need water. These products are not a whole lot easier to use than a real shampoo, except, of course, you don’t need to rinse. You also generally still must towel-dry the dog, or if you did choose a powder dry shampoo, comb your dog’s hair. Dry shampoos are not time-savers!

Choosing a Dry Shampoo for Your Dog

We don’t recommend dry shampoos, but if you insist on using one, there’s one main thing to avoid: Don’t buy any product that’s delivered in a container that uses a propellant. Personal care products that come in cans, including human hair mousse and pet dry shampoos, often contain petroleum distillate propellants like propane or butane. And benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, is a common contaminant of petroleum distillates. Powdered or manual pump-spray products are safer.

Choosing a product formulated for dogs is an absolute must. Look for dry shampoos for dogs that contain only natural ingredients that help deodorize your dog. (Remember, regular shampoos are only on the dog’s coat for a minute or two and then thoroughly rinsed away; dry stuff stays in the dog’s coat until you give him a real bath or he goes swimming.)

Still, we advise you to only use a dry shampoo when there’s no other choice because, really, there are no shortcuts for a good, healthy bath.