Just like their human owners, many dogs embrace moisturized skin and fresh-feeling hair. Dogs require frequent bathing with shampoo, and many are well-served by a conditioner that can lock in moisture afterward, leaving a coat shiny and soft.
The TropiClean Conditioner is a top choice for most owners, as it features a refreshing scent and a formula that reduces shedding. However, the ideal canine conditioner may vary from dog to dog, as coat style, size and potential needs.
Not every dog needs a conditioner. While shampoo should cleanse and remove dirt, conditioner reinforces and supports the hair and coat to keep it soft and shiny. That means those dogs with fine, thin coats may not necessarily need it, especially if they’re not frequently on outdoor adventures that require a bath afterward.
Dogs with thick coats, especially double coats and those that get dirty out in the world, will be supported by conditioner use. As conditioner helps moisturize the skin, it's also valuable for dry climates. Conditioners may be supportive in the winter where the air is dry.
Some conditioners feature specific formulas to tackle certain skin issues. They may relieve itching, prevent shedding or alleviate rashes and redness. Some may fight bacterial infections or relieve allergic reactions. Conditioners will be suited for only mild cases. However, you should inform the veterinarian of any prolonged issues.
Popular, sought-after conditioner ingredients include aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter and oatmeal. Most are fortified with vitamins, including A, B, D and E. Although uncommon, be sure to avoid parabens, soaps, dyes and other unnatural ingredients as these can lead to irritation. Scrutinize the ingredients of any conditioner advertised as all-natural. Many owners prefer plant-based ingredients in their dog shampoos and conditioners.
Some formulas include both shampoo and conditioner for a cost-effective, efficient way to clean and support your dog. These are ideal for larger dogs that require more effort to bathe and any dogs that are eager to escape from bathtime. Note that some companies boast formulas that are three-in-one or four-in-one. This is simply a marketing tool and does not create any unique functions of the product.
Some conditioners include an added scent, usually derived from included oils. The presence of a fragrance comes down to the personal preferences of both you and your dog. In some cases, the oils from a scent may cause an allergic reaction in their dog. Familiar scents include lemon, vanilla, chamomile or lavender.
Some formulas remove odors, which is ideal for active dogs that may get into messes when outside. These tend to include a welcome aroma to replace the undesirable scent.
This type of conditioner is for dogs who dislike bathtime. It simply requires application via spray. There is no rinsing involved, so once the dog dries off, you can apply it. The conditioner will work into the hair over time and tends to work well with most coat types.
Most dog conditioners cost $5-$15, with the price increasing along with size. Those that target specific skin or coat issues may cost more.
A. The type and quality of ingredients will influence how safe and effective a dog conditioner is. Seek out options with all-natural or plant-based ingredients. There is no need to use soap or dyes in the conditioner to moisturize and support your dog’s skin and coat.
Avoid using human shampoos or conditioners. As the pH level of a dog’s skin is higher than that of a human, shampoos and conditioners made for humans can harm dogs, causing itchiness, redness and discomfort. Some conditioners for puppies use gentle ingredients to avoid irritation. Some even claim to be tearless, meaning they won’t irritate the eyes. However, owners should always avoid contact with the eyes, ears and nose during bath time.
A. Most dogs are well-served by a bath every 1-2 months, depending on the activity level. More adventurous dogs and those with longer, thicker coats may need bathing more frequently. A bath every 3 months may suffice for less active dogs and those with thin, light coats.
Be mindful of baths during the winter, where the cold, dry air leaves dogs susceptible to dry, itchy skin. Frequently baths can remove essential oils and barriers that naturally occur in the skin that are important for dogs feeling healthy and comfortable when the cold weather arrives.
What you need to know: This is a quality formula that moisturizes and reinforces, helping to alleviate shedding from more active dogs.
What you’ll love: It features cocoa butter and oatmeal for a gentle, moisturizing conditioner. It’s free of soap, dyes and parabens and includes a lime fragrance.
What you should consider: It’s pricey for size and requires a thorough rinse.
What you need to know: From a trusted brand, this quality conditioner is gentle, all-natural and comes at a low price.
What you’ll love: It is a great value for a conditioner that caters to normal and sensitive skin with honey, beeswax and oatmeal. It’s suitable for puppies and adults.
What you should consider: The smaller bottles run out quickly.
What you need to know: This comprehensive conditioner is ideal for thicker coats and promotes volume, moisture and softness.
What you’ll love: The protein-based formula reinvigorates and restores fur. It’s ideal for dogs that shed, and leaves the coat shiny and soft.
What you should consider: It has a strong scent, and some dogs may react to certain ingredients.
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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.