A Pomeranian dries off after a bath, which is preferred to dry shampoo.

Is Dry Shampoo Safe for Dogs?

Why Bathing a Dog Is Always Better than Using Dry Shampoo

The Function of the Sebaceous Glands in Dogs

Sebaceous glands are abundant on a dog’s skin, especially under their hair coats. These glands secrete a substance called sebum, which acts as a lubricant and creates an antimicrobial layer. This is the first line of defense in preventing bacterial skin infections. Abnormalities can occur with the sebaceous glands that result in the production of too much or too little sebum. When sebum accumulates on a pet’s fur, it can cause their skin to look greasy or dull, and leave a “not so fresh” smell. Bathing your dog helps to remove old layers of sebum and prevent accumulation, restoring their luxurious hair coat. In humans, dry shampoo is used to absorb extra sebum, add volume, and remove the greasy/oily look of unwashed hair. Though helpful for humans, there isn’t an overt need to use this product on pets.

What Is Dry Shampoo?

Dry shampoo is normally made from starches or silica, which absorb oils and remove residue when brushed out, revitalizing hair and eliminating a wet, oily appearance. Most ingredients in dry shampoos are benign, but they are unique to each product and an ingredient list should be evaluated before purchasing.

Dry shampoos are technically safe for dogs, but there isn’t a need to use this product on pets. Dogs should not be bathed excessively, as this can disturb the antimicrobial layer of their skin. If there’s oil build-up or if they begin to smell, they should have a full bath with a gentle human shampoo or a dog shampoo. Dry shampoo can help in a bind, if you’re unable to wash your pet in the moment, but it shouldn’t take the place of an actual bath.

Dangers of Dry Shampoo and Safe Alternatives

Dry shampoo can be harmful to your dog’s natural skin barrier if it is used frequently, allowing residue to develop on the skin. It is also potentially dangerous for them to lick or ingest large quantities of these products off of their skin.

Alternatives to dry shampoo for dogs are alcohol-free baby wipes or dog-formulated wipes. These can be used for a quick wipe down without leaving residue or disrupting the natural oil barrier. However, these should only be used as a temporary measure until a full bath can be given.

How Dry Shampoos Counteract Topical Medication

Some pets receive topical medications monthly, specifically flea and tick preventative products. Pets should not receive a full bath, dry shampoo, or wet wipe bath for at least 48 hours after application of these medications. Failure to wait at least the 48 hours after application could cause the products to be wiped off or not fully absorbed into the animal’s system.

Some pets can have skin sensitivities, and extra caution should be taken when adding a new product into their skin care regimen. We would recommend using it in a limited quantity and on one specific spot to ensure no reactions prior to using it over their whole body. Stop immediately if any irritation is noticed. Signs of irritation can include redness, pruritus (itchiness), pain, hives, and/or raised bumps. If irritation is noted, wash the affected area with warm water multiple times to remove any residual products and avoid in the future.