The 5 best medicated shampoos for dogs in 2021


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Skin conditions in dogs can be challenging to diagnose and treat, so it is no surprise that pet owners often have many questions about their dogs’ skin issues.

With the help of our experts, we came up with common questions about skin problems in dogs and medicated dog shampoos.

Will a medicated shampoo that is available over the counter at a pet store treat my dog’s skin infection?

Of the many OTC medicated dog shampoos very few contain the active ingredients available in prescription dog shampoos to treat skin infections effectively, according to Griffin. “Without clinical studies to back up the efficacy of OTC medicated dog shampoos, these shampoos can be a ‘hit or miss’ regarding having the right combination of active ingredients to be effective,” Price added.

Will an anti-itch shampoo work for my dog?

“Most OTC anti-itch shampoos do not contain the ingredients, such as hydrocortisone and pramoxine, that most effectively combat the itch,” says Griffin. She adds, “these shampoos don’t have much long-term residual anti-itch activity, making frequent bathing necessary.”

Will a flea and tick shampoo prevent fleas and ticks?

Our experts agreed that flea and tick dog shampoos effectively kill live fleas and ticks but are not good at flea and tick prevention.

I thought that I wasn’t supposed to bathe my dog too much. Should I really use this medicated shampoo several times a week?

Griffin noted it is a common misconception to bathe dogs  only infrequently (e.g., once a month). You can bathe dogs  several times a week, or even daily, if needed. More frequent bathing can shorten the time to see therapeutic results and would not dry out the skin, if the shampoo contains high-quality ingredients.

How long should I leave a medicated shampoo on my dog during a bath?

A medicated dog shampoo must stay on the skin for at least 5 to 10 minutes to be most effective. Griffin advises owners to apply the shampoo all over, paying particular attention to the problem areas. After this time frame, thoroughly rinse the shampoo with clear, lukewarm water.

How will I know if the medicated shampoo is working?

Medicated dog shampoos rarely  work overnight and are most effective when used according to a veterinarian’s instructions. “Consistency is key in achieving therapeutic benefit,” says Griffin. Price adds  that it may be necessary to use the shampoo for one to two weeks before seeing significant improvements, such as healed skin lesions and reduced redness and itchiness.

If a dog’s skin condition isn’t getting better or worsens, Price advises discontinuing the shampoo and contacting your veterinarian.

Can I use the medicated shampoo instead of expensive medication?

It depends. “In some conditions, such as seborrheic skin problems, a medicated shampoo can be used alone to provide therapeutic benefit,” says Griffin. “Additional medication,” notes Price, would be needed for deep skin infections, a severe inflammatory response, and chronic skin conditions that cause persistent inflammation.”

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