The 5 best medicated shampoos for dogs in 2021, for dandruff, mange, bacteria, and skin allergies

  • A dog’s skin is very delicate and susceptible to dryness and damage from causes like insect pests, bacteria, yeast, and fungus.
  • A medicated shampoo may be the ideal solution for your dog’s skin problems.
  • Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo is Veterinary Formula Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo, which offers fast relief for a variety of skin problems.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Your dog’s skin is delicate, though you may not think about it because it’s covered in a layer of fur. In reality, a dog’s skin is much thinner than a human’s, which makes it more sensitive to things like pest insects, bacteria, and fungus. Your dog can also develop allergies to certain substances that may manifest in the form of skin-related symptoms.

Whether your dog has developed an allergy, a bacterial skin infection, or a case of seborrhea, medicated dog shampoo may be the solution to the problem. A wide variety of medicated shampoos are designed to treat everything from dry, itchy skin caused by allergies or seborrheic skin conditions to fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections and accompanying dandruff. For dogs that are not suffering from skin issues, a regular dog shampoo is appropriate. 

Remember, you’ll need to consult your veterinarian to identify the cause of your dog’s skin problems. Using the wrong medicated shampoo can do more harm than good. Once you have a diagnosis from your vet, you can choose the right medicated shampoo formulated for that particular problem. There are countless over-the-counter (OTC) medicated dog shampoos on the market, but we’ve done the research to determine the best nonprescription medicated shampoos for dogs. When you bathe your dog with one of these medicated shampoos, give them a soapy lathering massage, then leave the shampoo to sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it can penetrate into the skin and do it’s job. 

Here are the best medicated shampoos for dogs:

  • Best medicated shampoo overall: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo
  • Best for skin allergies: Vet’s Best Oatmeal Medicated Shampoo
  • Best for bacterial infection: Curaseb Chlorhexidine 4% Medicated Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
  • Best for yeast infection: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Shampoo
  • Best for mange: Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo

Updated on 02/12/2021 by Lisa Sabatini: We added more buying options and links to related guides. We stand by our picks but are researching additional shampoos for an update to this guide in summer 2021.

The best shampoo overall

Made with powerful active ingredients with the addition of natural moisturizers, this antiparasitic and antiseborrheic medicated shampoo quickly relieves itching and irritation associated with a wide variety of skin problems.

Pros: Works for a variety of skin conditions, relieves itching and inflammation, contains natural moisturizers, free from dyes and parabens, pH-balanced for sensitive skin

Cons: May not resolve fungal or yeast infections, scent may be too strong for some, not for use on puppies younger than 12 weeks of age, not safe for use on cats

Different skin problems require different treatments, so you should always consult your veterinarian before using a medicated shampoo. If you’re looking for a shampoo to help your dog’s skin heal following an infection or allergy, a multi-symptom medicated shampoo may be a good choice.

Many medicated shampoos offer antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal benefits — all in one product — with the addition of moisturizers and cooling agents to help soothe and heal the skin. Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo overall is Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo for Dogs.

This medicated shampoo is one of the most popular on the market and for good reason. It features a fast-acting formula that relieves inflammation and itching associated with numerous skin problems, including dermatitis, seborrhea, mange, and other parasitic or bacterial infections.

The formula utilizes active ingredients like salicylic acid, coal tar, and micronized sulfur, along with natural moisturizers like colloidal oatmeal and allantoin to hydrate the skin and promote healing. Plus, it is free from dyes, soaps, and parabens and is pH-balanced for your dog’s sensitive skin. —Kate Barrington

The best for skin allergies

Formulated with gentle, natural ingredients, the hypoallergenic Vet’s Best Oatmeal Medicated Shampoo offers fast relief from dryness, itching, and irritation.

Pros: Natural ingredients, soothes and relieves itching, eliminates flakes and dandruff, safe for daily use, will not affect topical flea and tick treatments

Cons: May not work for some dogs, scent may be too strong for some

Dogs can develop environmental allergies to everything from grass and pollen to mold, mites, and medication. In many cases, food allergies also manifest with skin-related symptoms, such as dry, itchy skin as well as patches of hair loss and hot spots.

Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo for skin allergies is Vet’s Best Oatmeal Medicated Shampoo. This Vet’s Best shampoo features a blend of natural ingredients including oatmeal, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid to soothe dry, itchy skin with the help of natural moisturizers like oatmeal, with essential oils and vitamin B5 to soothe and calm the skin.

It contains no parabens, chemical dyes, or artificial colors that might irritate your dog’s skin and is safe enough for daily use. Plus, it won’t interfere with your dog’s topical flea and tick treatments as long as they have dried before bathing your dog. Simply work it into a lather and let it remain in contact with the skin for three to five minutes before thoroughly rinsing — repeat as necessary. —Jackie Brown

The best for bacterial infection

Curaseb Chlorhexidine 4% Medicated Shampoo for Dogs and Cats treats a wide range of skin-related issues attributed to bacterial growth. It also deodorizes and gently cleanses the skin.

Pros: 4% chlorhexidine as the powerful active ingredient, treats a variety of skin-related issues attributed to bacterial growth, can be used on both dogs and cats, made in the US, comes with a money-back guarantee

Cons: Somewhat expensive compared to similar products, scent may be strong for some

When your dog is already suffering from skin problems, they are more susceptible to secondary bacterial skin infections. These can occur when your dog scratches excessively, breaking the skin and allowing bacteria to infect the wound.

Your veterinarian will need to perform diagnostic tests to identify the specific strain of bacteria and may also recommend a course of antibiotics. To support this therapy, you may also want to use an antibacterial medicated shampoo help relieve symptoms and speed healing.

Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo for bacterial infection is Curaseb Chlorhexidine 4% Medicated Shampoo for Dogs and Cats. This shampoo features 4% chlorhexidine as the powerful active ingredient to treat bacterial skin infections. This shampoo contains both eliminates and prevents the growth of disease-causing microorganisms and bacteria. This shampoo is made in the US and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. —Kate Barrington

The best for yeast infection

Formulated with benzethonium chloride and ketoconazole, the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Shampoo for Dogs and Cats cleans and deodorizes the skin while neutralizing both bacteria and fungal infections for fast-acting symptom relief.

Pros: Contains powerful active ingredients, soap-free coconut oil-based cleanser, cleans and deodorizes the skin, soothes itching and irritation, free from parabens

Cons: May be too harsh for very small dogs or dogs with very sensitive skin, contains some artificial color

Yeast infections in dogs are caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis. This yeast is found naturally in the skin of most dogs, but it doesn’t cause a problem until skin conditions change, resulting in abnormal overgrowth that leads to dermatitis, or skin inflammation. Yeast infections in dogs can cause itching and redness of the skin as well as a musty odor, hyperpigmentation, and recurrent ear infections.

The most effective treatment for yeast infections in dogs is a medicated shampoo that contains selenium sulfide or benzoyl peroxide. Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo for yeast infections is Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Shampoo.

This shampoo is formulated with benzethonium chloride to eliminate bacteria and ketoconazole to relieve fungal infections. It cleans and deodorizes while soothing and hydrating the skin with aloe vera and coconut oil-based cleansers. Plus, it is free from parabens, soaps, and harsh chemicals. —Kate Barrington

The best for mange

With a powerful 2.5% concentration of benzoyl peroxide, Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Dog and Cat Shampoo degreases the coat, flushes the hair follicles, and moisturizes the skin to soothe and heal even the most severe cases of mange.

Pros: Powerful 2.5% benzoyl peroxide active ingredient, penetrates deeply to flush the hair follicles and relieve inflammation, hydrates and moisturizes skin

Cons: Strong formula may irritate the eyes and nose, may bleach fabric if spilled

Mange is a painful skin disease caused by mites, and there are two primary forms: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Sarcoptic mange is extremely contagious and causes symptoms including extreme itching, redness, hair loss, and lesions on the skin.

Demodectic mange typically occurs in dogs with weakened immune systems and may cause patches of redness, hair loss, and scaling skin. Treatment for mange involves topical medications to eradicate the mites as well as medicated baths to relieve symptoms and heal the skin.

Our top pick for the best medicated dog shampoo for mange is Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo. This shampoo offers deep-cleansing action powered by a 2.5% concentration of benzoyl peroxide to degrease your dog’s coat and flush the hair follicles to relieve inflammation. It’s made with a 1-to-3 micron benzoyl peroxide powder that is much finer than what most shampoos use, enabling it to penetrates the skin and coat to deliver the most effective treatment possible. It also hydrates the skin and coat with natural moisturizers to promote healing. Because this formula is so strong, you need to wear gloves and avoid your dog’s eyes and nose when bathing. —Kate Barrington

Check out our other guides for dogs

  • The best dog shampoo
  • The best flea prevention and treatments for dogs
  • The best dog dewormers
  • The best dog nail clippers
  • The best dog brushes
  • The best dentail care products for dogs
  • The best dog food
  • The best no-pull dog harnesses
  • The best dog harnesses
  • The best dog collars
  • The best dog pools
  • The best outdoor dog beds
  • The best dog beds
  • The best dog food bowls
  • The best dog toys
  • The best dog treats
  • The best dog leashes
  • The best dog crates

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