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There are three cases where a medicated dog shampoo is needed: skin allergies, bacterial infection and yeast infection. There are also two types of medicated shampoos for dogs and where to buy them: one is a veterinary shampoo (prescription only from a vet clinic) and the other is over-the-counter anti-microbial shampoo you can buy anywhere. Which one you need depends on what treatment the dog requires.

When to Use a Medicated Shampoo for Dogs

If you're looking for a medicated shampoo, then your dog is likely showing signs of a skin condition. The first step is to see a veterinarian to have the condition properly diagnosed.

It's a skin allergy. This is the least worrisome condition among the three, but even if there's no skin infection present on your dog, a medicated shampoo can still help alleviate skin allergy symptoms. These shampoos specifically tackle itching and inflammation while at the same time reduce allergens on the coat and skin.

It's a yeast infection. This is a more serious skin condition which often requires specifically anti-fungal shampoo (a subcategory of medicated dog shampoos). These will contain ingredients like ketoconazole which is a medication designed to tackle infections caused specifically by fungus.

It's a bacterial infection. This can be a mild or a severe bacterial infection. In mild cases, antibacterial shampoo's ingredients like hydrocortisone or others will often be enough to deal with it. In more severe cases, shampoos will need to contain ingredients like gentamicin and/or betamethasone, and paired with oral antibiotics.

While you can take mild skin allergy in dogs into your hands with an over-the-counter medicated dog shampoo, in more severe cases, or if it's a bacterial or yeast infection, you need to see a veterinarian first. They will help you pick out the right type of shampoo.

Below are some of our favorite best medicated dog shampoo brands sold over-the-counter that have proven themselves to work, and contain the necessary ingredients to help in most common cases of dog skin conditions.

Buying and Using a Medicated Dog Shampoo

Depending on the brand, a medicated shampoo is designed to help with mild symptoms like itching, rashes and dry skin. It will also treat inflammation, hot spots, bacterial and fungus infections and more. They flush out mites or other culprits from the skin and its folds to prevent recurrence.

There are two universal rules for the use of medicated dog shampoos:

  1. Do not over-bathe your dog
  2. Always follow the directions on the shampoo bottle (or your vet's advice)

Medicated dog shampoo's ingredients

Due to the strength of ingredients, a medicated dog shampoo must be used exactly as advised on the bottle or recommended by your veterinarian. Because each brand contains a different set of ingredients, there is no one specific way (or amounts) to recommend. Look at the bottle for directions and follow them, unless advised differently by your vet.

After your dog has been seen by a veterinarian for their skin condition, you may be prescribed a specific type of medicated shampoo for that specific problem. Prescription dog shampoos are more expensive, so ask your vet if an over-the-counter one can be used instead (show them the below list, too) – it often can be.

How to Bathe a Dog with a Medicated Shampoo

Bathing your dog with a medicated shampoo is not much different to bathing them with regular shampoo. There are only a few small tweaks and notes to keep in mind.

Note: The below instructions are general, which typically apply to most medicated shampoos for dogs; however, you must follow the directions specifically on the bottle of shampoo you're using and do not veer away from them (unless your vet says otherwise).

Medicated shampoos are soap-free, therefore they will not clean your dog's coat. Thus, medicated shampoo must be applied directly on a dog's already clean coat. If your pup is relatively clean, at least spray them with lukewarm water and get the coat wet. If they're visibly dirty, you'll need to wash them with a regular shampoo first (preferably with all-natural ingredients, one of which is oatmeal).

Fully cover your dog's body with medicated shampoo
Fully cover a dog's body with medicated shampoo.

Apply the medicated shampoo onto affected areas first, starting with most severely affected ones. These are often your dog's rectum, groin, armpits and paws. Once you've covered those areas, gently massage and spread the shampoo through the rest of the dog's body.

After your pup has been covered in shampoo, set the timer for 10 minutes. This is a general timeline and your veterinarian may give you a different one, less or more. Also, pay attention what it says on the bottle and how long the shampoo must stay on the dog.

Dry off your dog completely.
Dry off your dog completely.

When the time runs out, rinse your dog. It's very important to do a good job here and rinse them off completely, without leaving any traces of medicated shampoo whatsoever. After that, you can carefully dry your dog and they're ready to go back into the world.

The Best Medicated Dog Shampoo Brands

1Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo for Dogs
by Douxo

This prescription-type medicated dog shampoo from Douxo is not so harsh that it can be used for regular bathing, while at the same time it's effective at preventing and treating a variety of skin disorders in dogs. This antiseptic dog shampoo contains chlorhexidine, lipacide, and phytosphingosine salicyloyl which are designed to fight superficial and acute dog skin conditions that are commonly associated with pyoderma.

Lipacide, in particular, moisturizes and restructures a dog's skin by coating it with lipo-protein. This can either treat current issues or protect your pet's skin from irritation, severe inflammation and dryness. To ensure the best results, directions must be followed very carefully.

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Douxo Chlorhexidine PS + Climbazole Shampoo 500 ml...
1,272 Reviews
Douxo Chlorhexidine PS + Climbazole Shampoo 500 ml...
  • Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo is...
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  • Protects the skin from...

We've used this shampoo long before this review and found it to be extremely effective in addressing constant itchiness in dogs, generally caused by mild skin allergies. Others have also reported successful treatment of acute bacterial or yeast infections that usually led to skin irritations, thickened skin and hair loss in dogs. The Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS dog shampoo has restored our pup's healthy skin and shiny coat in approx. 3 baths' time.

Depending on the condition and severity, you may see positive results in just a week or two after using this anti-itch dog shampoo. However, if it's an advanced stage of a skin condition, or it's a very particular type of skin infection, you may need to keep bathing for a total for 3 to 5 weeks to see improvement, which is the fastest result you can expect for serious cases among all of these best medicated dog shampoo brands mentioned here.

This shampoo is particularly effective when applied right at the start of skin allergy signs or when the skin infection just shows up. However, in truly serious cases, this shampoo may be ineffective or only slightly effective. For example, a dog with serious staph wounds may get the benefit of management of this issue, but the staph may not always be completely treated (depends on the severity). Ask your veterinarian if you do not have any success with this.

PROS:

  • Very effective in preventing and treating a variety of skin disorders in pets
  • Fights superficial and acute skin conditions associated with pyoderma
  • Contains lipacide, which moisturizes and restructures the skin by coating it with lipo-protein
  • Extremely effective in addressing itchiness in dogs, and somewhat effective for bacterial and yeast infections
CONS:

  • Very expensive
  • Usually takes 1-2 weeks before results are noticeable; for serious infections, it may take up to 5 weeks

 

2Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo for Dogs
by DermaPet

An enhanced version of DermaPet’s DermaBenSS product, Benzoyl Peroxide Plus Dog Shampoo has added Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. This antimicrobial and antiseborrheic dog shampoo is the only Benzoyl Peroxide formula on the market today that contains both sulfur and salicylic acid in an all-natural base.

With natural herb fragrance and moisturizers, DermaPet's top rated antimicrobial shampoo for dogs helps in the topical management of pyodermas, skin ailments (particularly associated with skin folds) and itchiness, and staph infections. It aids in opening pores and flushing out contagious bacteria from the dog's hair follicles before they can even develop into full-blown conditions.

DermaPet Benzoyl Peroxide Plus Shampoo...
310 Reviews
DermaPet Benzoyl Peroxide Plus Shampoo...
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This was very effective at both protecting and treating a dog's skin diseases like staph infections and mange. Demodex mites are notorious for causing oozing pustules and problematic sores, and DermaPet's shampoo is an effective tool for fighting demodectic mange in dogs. Through its flushing ability to rid out a dog's hair follicles filled with contagious microbes, you're able to control outbreaks of a number of other infectious diseases on the pet's skin.

We really liked the non-drying and non-stinging quality of this shampoo, which you will immediately notice. It also has an exceptional flushing quality due to its consistency. This means that even if it doesn't kill mites, it will flush them out from being burrowed deep in your dog's skin. After healing affected spots, hair is given a chance to grow back. We also did not notice any dry skin on the dog, which is commonly observed with some other medicated dog shampoos with harsh active ingredients. All of that said, like all the other mentioned best medicated shampoos for dogs, this one will not be potent enough for some dogs and in some cases.

PROS:

  • Includes Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant
  • Natural herbal fragrance and moisturizers
  • Helps in the topical management of pyodermas, skin fold ailments, and staph infections
  • Aids in opening pores and flushing out contagious bacteria, mites, etc.
CONS:

  • Somewhat expensive
  • This will not be potent enough for serious skin diseases or severe cases of dog skin infections

 

3DermaBenSs Dog Shampoo
by Dechra

Dechra’s Medicated Dog Shampoo is a 12-ounce formula that helps promote healthy skin in cats, dogs, and horses. While it's a milder version for those simple skin condition cases, this is still a fairly potent anti-seborrheic and antimicrobial dog shampoo with added Vitamin E, salicylic acid and sulfur. It comes with a natural herbal scent and conditioners that make it gentle on a dog's skin.

It is soap-free, and you'll find it effective for skin inflammations, lick granulomas, greasy skin, oily seborrhea, staph and skin fold infections. Compared to some other recommended medicated dog shampoo brands listed, many veterinarians agree that this one specifically is best at washing out hair follicles – this is where usually lice dig in and breed if left unchecked, thereby causing skin disorders in dogs.

Dechra DermaBenSS Shampoo, 12 oz.
123 Reviews
Dechra DermaBenSS Shampoo, 12 oz.
  • Clears skin
  • Safe for all pets
  • Antimicrobial

Some of those problematic skin issues that Dechra dog shampoo was effective at include pus-filled pores that got worse after erupting, inter-digital cysts that flared every now and mild skin allergies. Overall, it's a very similar formulation to the above DermaPet shampoo and the review and response is nearly identical as well.

However, what's different (and minor drawback) is that unlike the above veterinary dog shampoo formula, this one left our dog's skin somewhat dry after third bath. This may be an issue for some owners (rightfully so), but in other cases such as severe mange, dry skin may be the lesser of two evils and will only need to last during mange treatment. Plus, there are many remedies for dry skin in dogs which can be used after a bath.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Can be used on cats, dogs and horses
  • Antimicrobial and anti-seborrheic, and it contains vitamin E, salicylic acid and sulfur
  • Soap-free
  • Vet recommended for good flushing
  • Treats topical management of skin infections and inflammation, lick granulomas, greasy skin, oily seborrhea, staph and skin fold infections
CONS:

  • May leave a dog's skin dry

 

4Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Dog Shampoo
by Davis

Davis' medicated dog shampoo is formulated with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide as the main ingredient to help relieve skin infections in dogs that are associated with seborrhea dermatitis – an abnormally increased secretion and discharge of fatty matters. It helps in opening and flushing out hair follicles that may contain harmful microbes and removes grease in problematic dog coats as well.

Further on the ingredients list, you'll see it contains natural fragrance and moisturizers to hydrate the skin and coat. It is available in a 12-oz bottle and is often recommended for dogs suffering from seborrhea dermatitis and acne specifically. For a multi-pet household, another benefit is that it's safe for both dogs and cats.

Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Dog & Cat...
512 Reviews
Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Dog & Cat...
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  • Available in 12-ounce size

Loss of hair due to clogged pores and pyoderma are two of the most common skin conditions in dogs, and Davis shampoo is actually very effective for treating specifically this problem. It's one of the stronger brands of medicated pet shampoo on this list, with some harsher ingredients, which are good for severe infection cases, but also can be damaging when used long-term.

Because its formulation is quite strong, you absolutely must keep it away from your dog's eyes and mucous membranes. We also recommended wearing gloves during baths, and being particularly careful in how you're applying it (follow directions). Overall, there’s no denying its efficacy for many dog skin disorders even without the use of oral antibiotics.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Made with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide
  • Extremely effective for more serious skin disorders in dogs
  • Helps relieve infections associated with seborrhea dermatitis in particular
  • Contains natural fragrance and moisturizers to hydrate the skin and coat
  • Safe to use on both dogs and cats
CONS:

  • Extremely potent formula (may be too harsh for some dogs or conditions)
  • You cannot get this into your dog's eyes or mucus membranes as it will cause damage
  • You will need to wear gloves when applying this shampoo

 

5Antiparasitic Medicated Shampoo for Dogs
by Veterinary Formula Clinical Care

The last of our recommended medicated dog shampoos is the cheapest on the list yet it is a proven and often vet recommended brand for treating mange and a few other parasitic conditions in dogs. With combined properties of salicylic acid, micronized sulfur, and coal tar, the SynergyLabs dog shampoo has proven itself to be effective in fighting scaling caused by seborrhea, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.

It also includes allantois and colloidal oatmeal that enhances a dog's skin hydration and supports healing. Unlike the above product, this shampoo is not recommended for cats because of its coal tar substance.

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic and...
4,285 Reviews
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The best results were observed after continual use for about 3 weeks at least. It does not contain parabens, artificial color or soap, which makes it less harsh (and subsequently less effective and longer to see results with), so if you're a pet owner for a more gentle dog shampoo to treat mild skin issues, this could be the best choice.

To avoid recurring disorders, this medicated shampoo for dogs must be used regularly and likely more often than the others. It will definitely clean your dog and relieve itching but for treatment of other skin issues, it will highly depend. Overall, this is an affordable medicated pet shampoo to clean and keep a dog's skin and coat healthy but may not be a good choice for serious skin problems.

PROS:

  • Cheap
  • Does not contain parabens, artificial color or soap
  • Made with salicylic acid, micronized sulfur, and coal tar
  • Proven effective in fighting scaling caused by seborrhea
  • Includes allantois and colloidal oatmeal that enhance skin hydration and support healing
CONS:

  • Not strong enough for severe skin disorders
  • Must be used regularly (and more often than others) to prevent the issue from recurring

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Best Medicated Dog Shampoo Brands for Healthy Skin and Coat

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