13 Best Waterless Dog Shampoo

best waterless dog shampoo
There are a lot of times that our dogs need a spot cleanup but a full bath just isn’t going to work with time or lack of cooperation from your dog. In the clinics, we use waterless dog shampoo every day. This can be effective for getting dirt and debris out of the coat. To help you find the product you need for your dog we’re going to look into the ingredients, method of action and quality of result to pick the best waterless dog shampoo.
Which waterless dog shampoo is best? Want the answer? Then read on!

Table Of Contents

Our Top Picks

Our Rating:

4.5/5

Price Range: $

Ingredients:
  • Plant-based cleaners (actual ingredients not listed)
  • With Lavender and Chamomile scent which may have a calming effect.

What We Like About It

  • The scent is not overpowering, but it is pleasant to the majority of users.
  • It really binds to dirt quickly lifting it to the surface of the coat where it can be brushed or wiped off.
  • The moisturizers leave the coat soft and shiny for many dogs.
  • Some users even found it took away skunk odor.

What We Don't Like

  • Some people simply don’t like the smell of lavender
  • Dogs can be itchy after using this waterless shampoo
The scent of lavender is known to have a mildly relaxing quality to many individuals. The results are subtle so this isn’t going to stop a hyperactive dog from bouncing around. It could be a nice touch for some dogs that are suspicious about bath time.
Foam formula applications. I really find this easiest to work into a long-haired coat without over applying the product. You can really get it down into the hair to pull away debris and oil. The process with this product is to apply, then dry with a towel and once it’s dry brush the debris from the coat. I feel the brushing is a really important part of the process to get both the debris and the extra product out.
The product is manufactured in the US. This is something to think about in terms of safety as we do have some more stringent safety policies than some importing countries. It also may be a personal choice that you feel good about. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is a great way to use the product and see for yourself. If you don’t feel like it has done what the company professed, then send it back, get your money and try a new one.
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Paws Up

“I purchased the Lavender Chamomile which is a light, pleasant fragrance. After applying the foam to the palms of my hands, I began stroking my dog along her sides and back. Within seconds, my hands were coated with a layer of dirt, which proves that this product does what it’s supposed to: dirt and debris binds to it. I followed up with a damp towel. My dog just loves rolling in the dirt, so I’m happy to find an easy-to-use product which will help to keep her clean between baths.”

Paws Down

As this product user and pet parent shows, scent preference is very individual. “We got this to help with dog smell in between baths but only used it once- it was like having an air freshener with legs running around the house. If the smell dissipated more quickly we might use it when the dog gets a little smelly but we don’t have time to bathe her until the weekend, but as it stands I prefer the medium amount of dog smell to the huge amount of lavender.”

Our Rating:

4.3/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • coconut-derived surfactant blend
  • polysorbate 20
  • fragrance
  • preservative

What We Like About It

  • It’s long-lasting even with regular use on big dogs.
  • The shampoo leaves a light fruity smell behind that appeals to many people.
  • This will pull a lot of dirt out of the coat for a great emergency ‘bath’ when washing isn’t an option.
  • Many users found it removed that ‘wet dog’ smell effectively.

What We Don't Like

  • Leaking bottles was a recurrent issue for people that bought this product.
  • Several uses felt that this shampoo left a waxy to sticky residue behind.
This waterless shampoo comes in a foaming mousse delivery. I find this to be the easiest way to get it down into long-coated dog fur, and also it’s easier to control volume than some sprays. To use this work the foam into the coat, air dry or towel dry and brush after dry if needed. I always recommend the brushing out if your dog will let you. If not be vigorous with the towel, most dogs will take that as a great massage.
Pomegranate and mango scent could be very pleasant but has to be judged by the noses in the family. A lot of the scent panels of these products are personal preference. We are attracted to and avoid different scents, so sometimes you just have to try it out.
Cruelty-free manufacture is promised by the company. This is certainly something to keep an eye on in personal care products. The shampoo is manufactured in the US which does give us some insight into quality control which is important. The company also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
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Paws Up

“I think with pretty much all products, you’re going to get a mixed bag of reviews. Before deciding on purchasing this product after looking at a lot of waterless dog shampoos, I saw that this one had overwhelmingly positive feedback, but was wary about some of the things the negative reviews said, mainly that the odor was too strong and that it left dogs feeling greasy. It is probably a matter of opinion, but I found the fragrance yummy and not at all overwhelming…my dog likes to go swimming in an abandoned koi pond on our property and comes back inside wet and with that stinky fishy smell. We towel her dry, then give her a non-bath with this stuff and she smells good. It doesn’t take long to dry and her fur is super soft afterwards. She’s a lab mix, but her fur is a bit fluffy, not super short. My beagle, who is pretty much skeptical of everything and doesn’t like being groomed doesn’t mind this at all. I will definitely get another bottle after this one is gone (but it seems like it’s going to last a long time…my dogs are around 45 and 69 pounds.)”

Paws Down

“This product left a sticky residue also my Yorkies hair didn’t smell or feel clean the next day.”

Our Rating:

4.3/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • natural conditioning agents
  • Silk Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Oat extract
  • Papaya leaf extract
  • Jojoba oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Panthenol
  • Fragrance

What We Like About It

  • This shampoo leaves a subtle, non-perfume scent on most dogs that is pleasing to the people
  • The shampoo does a good job of fighting dog odor for many pets.
  • Most dogs feel very soft after the use of this product.

What We Don't Like

  • Some pet parents don’t like the ‘heavy’ feel the moisturizer leaves on thick fur.
  • Some users were frustrated by the quality of the packaging with poor spray quality and some leaking during use.
This product is made by the same company that makes Biosilk products for people but with the pH adjustment for dog skin. If you are familiar with the company that may be a bonus to you, but always remember that products have to be reformulated for dog pH so you may see it working a little different than it does on you.
This is a liquid pump spray bottle. This formulation may be harder to get deep into a thick coat than foam without using a lot, but some of that will be personal preference. I used spray formulations in the clinic for years and have been very happy with it. The cleaning process is to spray it on then massage it into the coat and then brush it through. Remember to start with small amounts.
The company does no animal testing in researching and developing this product. That’s a really important factor to consider for us dog lovers. The company manufactures in the U.S. so we have some assurance of quality control in that feature. The company states ‘satisfaction guarantee’ but does not clarify any specifics.
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Paws Up

“I used this waterless shampoo on one of my HOUND dogs. When we visited the vet today, they said normally that hounds smell and that my dog didn’t smell at all – nothing! I am very pleased with this shampoo. Brands I’ve used in the past give off a perfumed smell. This is a product that does exactly what it says it will do – and that is so refreshing. You need this for your dogs!”

Paws Down

“We have an elderly poodle that stinks within 2 weeks of being groomed. This “shampoo” smells great and does away with the stinky dog smell for several days/weeks. My only issue is with the spray bottle. Every 3 or 4 sprays you have to stop, one the bottle and allow air back into the bottle. The sprayer also drips product down on the bottle, making it slippery. I’d give the product 5 stars if it had a better bottle, dispensing system. I’ll buy it again, but will find a better spray bottle, maybe one with a trigger sprayer.”

Our Rating:

4.3/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Proprietary Enzyme Blend
  • Coco Betaine
  • Citrus Aurantium
  • Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil
  • Cymbopogon Nardus (Citronella) Oil
  • Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil
  • Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil
  • Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil
  • Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil
  • Litsea Cubeba Oil
  • Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil

What We Like About It

  • This product works well enough to counteract ‘hound’ smell.
  • For many dogs, this decreases itchy from dry skin giving some needed moisturizing.
  • It has a light fresh scent without strong perfume that many people find appealing.

What We Don't Like

  • Some users found it hard to get penetration into long thick coats.
  • The spray bottle quality is not always up to par.
This is a liquid spray product that you apply then wipe your dog down with a damp cloth. Following up with a brushing is always a good idea if your dog will let you. For longer coats consider ruffling the fur/hair up and following along behind, spray to the underside of the coat. The shampoo is citrus-scented, which can be really pleasing and a scent we often associate with cleanliness.
A plant-based formula which is the same as the term botanicals. This is often a positive, but remember plants and natural doesn’t always mean safe. There are plenty of natural toxic things in this world that we need to be careful about. Also, there are many products considered safe in the recommended quantity but they would be dangerous if a large amount is ingested. This product may really appeal to your social agenda. It’s biodegradable, manufactured cruelty-free and it’s also Non-GMO, vegan and comes in recyclable packaging. It’s manufactured in the U.S. which gives us some quality assurance.
The company provides a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you can give it a try but not waste money if you aren’t satisfied.
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Paws Up

“I have a senior Belgian Malinois who happens to be a retired police dog. He is losing his ability to get around, so he is also a bit incontinent. But bathing him every day is not practical, especially since it’s getting cold! I had been using the wipes, which work, but are very expensive and time-consuming.

Paws Down

The spray is quick, effective, and smells great! Ranger LOVES getting his rub down while I work it into his coat, and I incorporate a deep tissue muscle massage in at the same time. It has actually helped him get up and around more often, because I think it helps him feel better. And he looks great!”

Our Rating:

4.2/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • deionized water
  • detergent free surfactant blend
  • apple extract

What We Like About It

  • The apple scent does not have a perfume quality to it which is going to be more natural and appealing to a lot of people.
  • It fights musty wet dog odors effectively on most dogs.
  • This shampoo has a very simple ingredient list decreasing the chances of irritation to your dog’s skin.

What We Don't Like

  • Repeat issues come up with the poor quality packaging.
  • The spray sound can be startling for some dogs.
This shampoo comes in a liquid spray formula. This can be really effective for spot cleaning but may not be as easy as a foam product if you are doing most of the body or dealing with a really thick coat or long hair. The application process is to spray it on, let it sit for one minute, then wipe your dog down with a clean cloth. This product has an apple scent so you can work with your own nose as to whether that appeals to you or not.
This may appeal to your social conscience, the package is made from recycled materials and it’s manufactured in the U.S. The company offers a lifetime money-back guarantee which is great if you just don’t have a chance to form your opinion in the first month or if you decide after a few repeat uses that you don’t like it anymore.
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Paws Up

“I have never used a waterless shampoo before and I bought this product in preparation for a six-day trip across the United States with our two German wirehaired pointer’s. I tested the product on both my dogs which hadn’t had a bath for four days and they began to have a musty smell. Surprisingly both dogs were not intimidated by the spray bottle and spray. I applied the product as directed. The product did not leave a perfume smell but the musty odor was gone and their coats were very soft. I’m very pleased with this product and I’m now ready to take our dogs on a long move across the US.”

Paws Down

“I’ve tried everything to get it ON my dog; a big beautiful Golden Retriever. He hates water…..hates anything sprayed on him. I’ve tried putting it on my hand to rub it on & spraying it on a wash cloth. I can’t get enough saturation into his coat to make a difference. So I can’t actually say it doesn’t work, I haven’t been able to give it enough of a test. It Might work, if you have a cooperative dog.”

Our Rating:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Propolis Extract
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract
  • Symphytum Ocinale Leaf Extract
  • Echinacea Purpurea Extract
  • Trigonella Foenum-Graecum Fruit Extract
  • Allium Sativum (Garlic) Bulb Extract
  • Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract
  • Propolis Extract
  • Salvia Ocinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract
  • Spirulina Maxima Extract Quercus Alba Bark Extract
  • Viola Tricolor Extract
  • Zinc Ricinoleate
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine
  • PEG-10 Sorbitan Laurate
  • Amodimethicone
  • Trideceth-9
  • Cetrimonium Chloride
  • Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil
  • Polysorbate 20
  • Disodium EDTA
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Ethylhexylglycerin
  • Fragrance (Parfum)

What We Like About It

  • It has a pleasing scent that is not a strong perfume.
  • It’s an easy product to work into the coat, even in long-haired or thick-coated dogs.
  • The scent often lasts up to a week which is much longer than average.
  • Most coats are left shiny and looking clean.

What We Don't Like

  • Many purchasers had leaking bottles delivered to them.
This is a spray product that is applied to the coat and finger comb or brush through. Wiping the product off is not required. It has Lavender in it which provided fragrance along with coconut oil. Lavender (essential oils in general) is touted as a flea repellent but they work very poorly for this. They are definitely inadequate to treat an active flea problem.
This product touts all vegan ingredients which may be an important factor in your household decision. The product is made in the U.S., involves no animal testing and is a cruelty-free product. These factors may all be important if you have a social conscience decision-making process for product purchase and companies you support. The company grants a 30-day money-back guarantee for your satisfaction. This should give you the opportunity to use it a few times and get your money back if you find it’s not the one for you.
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Paws Up

“I used this on my GSD who was pretty stinky and in need of a bath. I didn’t think it was gonna do much for his stink, but it actually made him smell great and his coat ended up looking perfectly clean after I brushed him using this spray. The coconut lavender smell is awesome because it is a neutral smell, neither masculine nor feminine. It smells very fresh and is not overpowering. A whole week went by and he was still smelling fresh. Today I finally bathed him and brushed this into his coat after drying. I really recommend this product and will continue to buy it.”

Paws Down

“I tried. I really did. I hate to leave a negative review, but this product just didn’t work as I hoped it would. I have 2 male Yorkies. They are “hair challenged” when it comes to urination. I was hoping this product would keep me from having to bathe them so frequently. Instead, it left them with sticky, perfumy-urine smelling hair on their bellies & front legs. I worked the product through their hair well, wiped it with a clean cloth to help remove some dirt & urine, then blow-dried it. Stiff & sticky. I tried it 3 different occasions w/the same result. If I still had the box, I would return it. Sorry, but I wasted my money on this one.”

Our Rating:

4.2/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • purified water
  • coconut-derived non-ionic surfactant blend
  • polysorbate 20
  • fragrance
  • preservative
  • citric acid

What We Like About It

  • Many parents find this has a pleasant scent that is not overpowering.
  • A small amount of product goes a long way, working easily into the coat.
  • It leaves a soft coat after brushing.

What We Don't Like

  • Some pets feel like they have residue on their coat after use.
  • For some dogs the odor improvement doesn’t last more than a day, making it not worth the effort for some parents.
This is a non-detergent coconut-based product which may be less drying for a lot of skin types. It does contain fragrance which may be irritating to the skin or for the sense of smell for sensitive people. It does have a small ingredient list which makes it easier to avoid allergens.
This product is a foaming mousse with lavender and chamomile scent. It is applied by massaging it in, allowing the pet to air dry or towel dry, then brush as needed. The foam products are often easier to get down into the coat of thick fur dogs. I do recommend the brushing it tends to give the coat a better luster and prevent any feeling of build-up.
This product is made in the U.S. and is labeled as a cruelty-free product. This does help us to have some assurance of quality control. The company offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
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Paws Up

“Paw choice dry dog shampoo is a Nice light clean fragrance that refreshes and softens my dogs fur. My dog is 14 and she doesn’t groom herself the way she used to. This product cleans her up and does not irritate her skin.”

Paws Down

“I cannot get my 80 and 120 pound dogs in the tub so I thought this would be a great option. Foams and spreads nicely. Would be great for in between baths (if I did them.) Only thing I did not like is that my Great Pyrenees’ coat now feels like it has a “coating” – kind of greasy feel – not her usual soft self.”

Our Rating:

5/5

Price Range: $

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract
  • Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil
  • Hydrolyzed Oat Protein
  • Cocamide MIPA
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Citric Acid
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Fragrance (Parfum)

What We Like About It

  • This has a good conditioning formula that helps manage dry skin.
  • No heavy perfume but smells fresh and clean after using the waterless shampoo.
  • It distributes well so it doesn’t take a lot of product to use and doesn’t leave a lot behind.

What We Don't Like

  • It has a very long ingredient list which confuses the issue of it being natural.
This is a plant-based or botanical product. It comes in a foam that is massaged into the coat and then brush as needed. I always recommend the brushing because it will help to remove more of the debris from the coat that has been lifted from the oils. It has almond oil which has a scent that would be appealing to many people as well as working as a mild conditioner. Oatmeal can be very soothing to dogs that have allergies as well as dry skin.
This is made by the same company that makes Paul Mitchel brand for humans. It is cruelty-free, not tested on animals and it is made in the U.S. A portion of each sale is donated to animal and wildlife organizations. This has some social consciousness aspects that may be appealing to some households. This product has won a number of awards for quality and excellence.
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Paws Up

“I have a Bichon/Shih Tzu and he gets at least one or two baths a week from just being a dirty dog and has never dried his skin out, I have used this for 7 years now and it always cleans the dog and never dries their skin, even with 5+ baths a month.”

Paws Down

“When I read the back of the bottle, I was shocked to see some of the same chemicals as found in drug store brand shampoos for humans. Not sure these chemicals are good for dogs. The shampoo smells great and lathers well. There isn’t build up after I wash my dog. But I think I’m going to go the all natural shampoo route just in case.”

Our Rating:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • deionized water
  • lavender extract
  • detergent free coconut surfactant blend

What We Like About It

  • The lavender scent is not overpowering and doesn’t linger.
  • The mist is fine enough to spray over the coat without over-soaking one spot.
  • The coat is soft, shiny and doesn’t have residue feel after use of this shampoo.

What We Don't Like

  • Even though it’s for sensitive skin not every dog’s skin is going to agree with it.
  • The odor improvement doesn’t seem to last more than a day for some dogs.
This shampoo is plant-based and is soap and detergent free. It has a very small ingredient list which helps to avoid allergens. It’s a spray formulation that is applied to the coat, let it stand for one minute then toweled off. If your pet will allow you to follow up with a brushing you will get more debris out of the coat and decrease the chance of feeling any product residue. It has a lavender coconut scent that is not a perfume. The oatmeal formulation has the added benefit of anti-allergy activity and soothing to dry irritated skin.
The product is manufactured cruelty-free, it’s not tested on animals and in recyclable packaging. It’s manufactured in the U.S. and the company has a social mission to use only sustainable products. The company offers a money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with it.
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Paws Up

“My dog has sensitive skin and is always licking himself. So, i needed a deodorizing product that wasn’t going to irritate his skin and something that was nontoxic incase he licked it off. This stuff is perfect. Ill be honest though, i find the lavander sent to be just awful. But its not a problem because, i spray it, rub it in like dry shampoo and an in a few minutes my dog is completely odor free. ODOR FREE, not just masked in a lavander scent. The best and most surprising part is that my dog doesnt even mind being sprayed with it either like he has with other products! This stuff is exactly what i needed, i will be repurchasing again!”

Paws Down

“My dogs skin didn’t agree with this formula. Only used it once because he was scratching so much.”

Our Rating:

4/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Clover Extract
  • White Ginger Extract
  • Chamomile Extract
  • Evening Primrose Extract
  • Jasmine Extract
  • Wild Cherry Bark Extract
  • Honeysuckle Extract

What We Like About It

  • The shampoo has a good conditioning effect leaving a soft lustrous coat.
  • This makes it easier to brush out undercoat in double-coated dogs.
  • This leaves the coat with a really silky shiny finish.

What We Don't Like

  • The combination of essential oils do not create a scent that is appealing to a lot of people.
The ingredients contain a lot of extracts so individual dogs may find this to be irritating. This is a very individual issue and it’s definitely fine to try, but I would not repeat use if your dog itched or seemed irritated afterwards.
This is a spray product that is applied to the coat, massaged into the coat and then towel dry. Brush as needed is the recommendation. I recommend the brushing because it will give more luster and lightness to the coat as well as pull more of the dirt out that has been lifted by the shampoo. In long-haired dogs, it will help to spread the product if you lift the coat (or ruffle it backwards) and spray along the underside. Frequent use can help manage tangles and matting and may make some sensitive dogs more amenable to brushing.
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Paws Up

“My dog has sensitive skin and is always licking himself. So, i needed a deodorizing product that wasn’t going to irritate his skin and something that was nontoxic incase he licked it off. This stuff is perfect. Ill be honest though, i find the lavander sent to be just awful. But its not a problem because, i spray it, rub it in like dry shampoo and an in a few minutes my dog is completely odor free. ODOR FREE, not just masked in a lavander scent. The best and most surprising part is that my dog doesnt even mind being sprayed with it either like he has with other products! This stuff is exactly what i needed, i will be repurchasing again!”

Paws Down

“My dogs skin didn’t agree with this formula. Only used it once because he was scratching so much.”

Our Rating:

4/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate)
  • Silk Amino Acids
  • Lauryl Glucoside (Plant Derived)
  • Hydrolyzed Vegtable Keratin Protein PG-Propyl Silantric
  • Decyl Glucoside (Plant Derived)
  • Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • (Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
  • Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Plant Derived)
  • Fragrance (Parfum)
  • Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (Plant Derived)
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Disodium EDTA
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone Citric Acid (Naturally Derived)

What We Like About It

  • The blueberry scent is not overpowering and many people really enjoy it.
  • A good brushing after the bath can produce a great coat shine.
  • Many clients found the deodorizing benefit lasted for many days.

What We Don't Like

  • The spray comes out of the nozzle in a stream, not a mist so it can be hard to spread.
This is a spray product that is applied to the coat then wiped down and I recommend brushing out. The brushing will remove a lot of dirt and debris from the coat that has bonded to the shampoo. This is a Blueberry muffin scented product.
The product is made in the US and is stated to be safe for dogs. There is no guarantee for this product, so you buy it, you’re stuck with it. This product certainly can work, but I am concerned by the lack of warranty and very little information on their site regarding application and use. It’s one of the least expensive products, but if you don’t like it there’s no refund.
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Paws Up

“This is not exactly what I expected – but it worked out fine. It says dry clean – and it is. The spray is of course, wet. Spray it on your dog, enough to get the dog damp – then rub it in and around with your hands – then towel dry. Blow dry if necessary. We were between baths and going out – and pup smelled a bit – well – like a dog. This took care of it. She is black so it is hard to tell if it would brighten up a white dog, but my dog sure smelled better. I also got a spray fragrance, but did not have to use it. Good product for winter.”

Paws Down

“This is not as great as I thought it would be. The blueberry smells is so powerful it makes my nose hurt. I have to towel dry, brush and blow-dry to get a clean look. Why wouldn’t i just wash them then?”

Our Rating:

4.5/5

Price Range: $$

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate
  • Decyl Glucoside
  • Lauramidopropyl Betaine
  • PEG-75 Lanolin
  • Polysorbate 20
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender Fragrance
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Blue1
  • Red 33

What We Like About It

  • Dog owners find the gallon size option to be good economy.
  • Very little product is needed to fully clean a short haired dog.
  • The scent is light and appealing and leaves the dog with a clean appearance.

What We Don't Like

  • For some dogs, with heavy oil/sebum production, this may not adequately remove it.
  • If you don’t towel the dog well after using this product it may leave a coating type feel to the fur.
This waterless shampoo comes as a spray that is applied to the coat then massaged into the coat and then should be dried with an absorbent towel. Brush as needed. If your dog tolerates brushing I always recommend doing it because it will help to get more of the debris from the coat that the shampoo has pulled from the oils. It also tends to give a good luster to the coat and prevent any feeling of coating on the hair or fur.
The shampoo is soap-free which is good for dry skinned dogs that might get over dry with frequent baths. It’s cruelty-free meaning it doesn’t get tested on animals. The company does not state any warrantee. It comes in gallon sizes which may be better economy if you have large dogs or multiple dogs.
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Paws Up

“Absolutely the best. I have a therapy dog that needs to be bathed 24 hrs before he visits the hospitals. Since we go to two different hospitals that would be a bath twice a week. I now bath him on Monday with regular shampoo for our Tuesday visit and then on Wednesday eve, I use this for our Thursday visits. It works perfectly has a light scent that the patients aren’t bothered with and I’m very happy with it. I finally decided to get a gallon because I was having to purchase the smaller bottles too often. You save a great amt of dollars by going with the gallon size. Btw therapt dog is STD size poodle clipped in teddy bear clip style”

Paws Down

“This is great to use in between baths for our dog but doesn’t really eliminate oil if your dog has an oily coat. The scent is clean & is definitely better than not using it!”

Our Rating:

4.1/5

Price Range: $

Ingredients:
  • Water
  • natural enzymes
  • aloe vera
  • organic stabilizers

What We Like About It

  • This is a very lightly scented product that dissipates quickly for people that are very scent sensitive it’s a plus.
  • This can assist in removing some very strong odors such as skunk and anal glands.
  • The product is not heavy or sticky on the coat and leaves it fluffy and soft.

What We Don't Like

  • It doesn’t clear up odor on all dogs and will not take some stains out of the coat.
This is a spray formulation shampoo that is applied to the coat/fur and then brushed into the coat and then you let it dry. The action of this shampoo is a bit different. Instead of surfactant solutions that bonds the shampoo the oil/sebum in the coat to release the dirt, this is an enzyme formulation that breaks down the oil/sebum to release the dirt.
This product is soap-free and may be significantly less drying for some dogs. It also contains aloe to moisturize the skin and coat. If you have found other waterless shampoo did not meet your satisfaction this is a different type of action so it may be worth a try. Unfortunately, the company does not state any type of satisfaction guarantee.
The product does make statements about managing fleas and ticks. This would not be an effective preventative and I would not rely on it at all to manage a flea problem.
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the woof on the street

Paws Up

“My dog was sprayed by a skunk and I used a day after wash her in the Dawn dish soap, vinegar and peroxide, it helped with removing the remaining skunk smell. I have an older dog that still likes to roll in less than desirable smells, this works good on that too!”

Paws Down

“it’s fine for the cost but does nothing to help with stain or odor”
The products come in several forms (spray, foam, powder, etc.) we’ll go over all of them a little later on. It is a cleaning agent that doesn’t require water to clean or need to be rinsed out. This is a benefit if you need a quick or spot treatment and you don’t want the dog to be wet. Also, it’s great for dogs that hate water. One thing that sometimes confuses people is the term waterless. This means that you don’t need water to rinse the product out. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t any water in the product.
The essential function is they remove oils from the coat and this will pull debris out with it, as well as improve odors. This is done with some type of surfactant, which breaks up oils, this can be soap, a synthetic detergent or a plant-based surfactant. Which type of surfactant used affects how some dog’s skin reacts to the product. By breaking up the oil it can be pulled away from the skin and coat. It’s the same principle that is used with any cleaning agent.
The waterless shampoos are great for times that you don’t want to use water such as cold weather where your dog could get chilled, as well as post-surgery where you need to keep bandages and incisions dry. Additionally, they can be great for traveling if you need a quick cleanup for getting back in the car, or just don’t have access to a bathing area. It can also be a nice grooming aid for dogs that hate water.

Foam

These are the easiest to work into the coat without over-applying product. They spread and massage in smoothly without having to use a large amount.

Spray

These liquid products can be more economical than the foams, but a little harder to distribute without getting a lot in one place. For using as spot cleanups they can work great though.

Aerosol

This is powdered to a semi-liquid product that comes out of a can with an accelerant. This is the same style as the spray-on deodorants people use. I find it difficult to deal with the amount of mist it leaves in the air when indoors.

Powder

This seems like it wouldn’t work but the powdered products do the same job of lifting oils and therefore debris out of the coat. My dislike for these is simply the mess. You can’t control where the powders fly. I wouldn’t be happy with that in the car or visiting a friend’s house.

Gel

This is a gel form that is worked into the coat. It is more common for human hair products and not dogs.

Type

The application of the product can make a big difference in how well you feel it works. For short-haired dogs the spray can be great because you apply it right where you want it. For long-haired dogs the foam is easier to get down in their coat. The powders will be messy and I don’t find them worth it.

Age

The products are designated if they are safe for use in puppies. There isn’t a big line here because there is no dog that you can be sure won’t lick the product. I’m more comfortable using a product safe for all ages.

Hypoallergenic if needed

This is a really tricky one to interpret. The product may mean it’s not made of any that is known to cause allergies but a lot of time a big factor in the itching is skin dryness and some products could irritate the skin. Not all hypoallergenic products will be good for all dog skin. It’s a really good place to start for sensitive skinned dogs. Oatmeals work really well in the majority of allergic dogs.

Skin Type

This is basically going to be a factor of the oiliness or dryness of a dog’s skin. This should be considered in terms of the cleaning agent and moisturizers the product contains as they will have different effects. We’re going to point out some of these factors in our reviews to help you make this decision.

Odor-fighting

There are a couple of factors that affect odor. One is the sebum (skin oil layer) which smells if it’s excessive and the layer holds debris into the coat. The other is the fragrance of the product. Some of these products have a strong perfume to them so read carefully before you choose.

Scent

This is entirely personal preference and there are differences. Some products use essential oils, we love them or hate those scents usually. Some products use perfumes. There isn’t really a quality difference here, it’s more of a nose thing.

Balanced for pH

This is critical, dogs don’t have the same pH as people. Human skin pH is below 5 on average. Dog skin pH averages around 6.5. This is the reason that veterinarians are so adamant about not using human skincare products on dogs. They can be a serious irritant. Normal everyday human shampoo is a mild acid to a dog.

Mild formula

This doesn’t have a technical meaning. It’s a phrase that companies use to get your attention. We all want mild things for our dog’s welfare. We might want a ‘strong’ product for tough jobs. The best thing to do is look at the actual ingredients. For example, essential oils are not chemicals so people tend to call them mild, but they have and can kill a dog if they ingest a moderate amount.

Foaming formula

This is a product that feels just like hair mousse for people. I think for long-coated dogs it is much easier to work into the coat without using an excessive product. It would be fine on short-coated dogs as well.

Non-toxic

This is 100% critical. Dogs groom their coats by licking so everything you put on them will be ingested. This is important as well in the quantity of the product you use. You don’t want to cover a dog head to toe with any product and just leave it on (unless directed by your veterinarian.) I think it’s best to always brush the dry shampoos out when you are done, though that part is usually listed as optional. For short-haired dogs a towel to wipe down would also be adequate.

All-natural?

This is another category that causes some huge confusion. The dictionary definition of natural is: having a form or appearance found in nature, existing in or produced by nature: not artificial (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/natural). What this means in relation to products is that anything made from a product found in nature is natural. Therefore soap made from plants is natural, kerosene is natural.
I think you can see where I’m going. So when a label has chemical names, it can still be natural. What this leads to is that a product listed as all-natural does not clearly define for you if the product is completely safe. Remember kerosene is natural, but you don’t want to bathe your dog in it.

Chemicals to avoid

This is a category this is filled with a lot of hype. Information that is false or not properly substantiated spreads like wildfire. Almost every agent whether natural or synthetic can cause irritation or illness in high quantities. Essential oils are often considered more natural and therefore safe, in large quantities, they are fatal to dogs. This does not mean they are unsafe to use in a shampoo, it means the dog should not drink the bottle of shampoo.
What’s really important here is to store products safely where pets and children can’t get into them. Many of the ‘chemicals’ listed as causing cancer, if it’s even true are associated with excessive or improper use. If you are concerned with this issue look to products that have simple ingredient lists that you can consider each ingredient individually. Be careful of products that list generic statements without the actual ingredient. For example: fragrance. Even hypo-allergenic shampoos are going to irritate the skin of some dogs.
As far as the carcinogen question there is a giant rift between humans and dogs. The two factors are exposure and time. A human will typically apply shampoo to their hair 250 to 365 times a year and live to be 80 to 90 years old. A dog being bathed every single month living to a ripe old age of 15 will be bathed 180 times and only have 15 years to react to the exposure. Most subtle or suspect carcinogens take a very long time to exert their effect. So something that is suspected to be carcinogenic in humans has very little relevance to a dog’s welfare.
If they are used properly and stored properly, yes they are. This doesn’t mean that some dogs won’t experience skin irritation. Every dog has individual skin chemistry just like people and will react differently to perfectly safe products.
No, it does not. Nothing removes debris from an animal’s coat and skin like water. These really should be used as a spot treatment or post-surgical cleanup or to avoid the cold.
The waterless shampoo actually mixed into the sebum of the coat and removes oil and debris. Deodorants are purely scent cover-ups.

A powder recipe:

  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • Half a cup of baking soda
  • 5-10 drops each of lavender and tea tree oils (remember to store your bottles safely, large quantity ingestion of essential oils is toxic).
Blend this together and work it into the coat, the brush out.

Is it okay for a dog to lick waterless shampoo?

A small amount is fine, but none of them are safe if the dog ingests a large quantity. A vigorous toweling or brushing will take care of residue and this will not be a problem if your dog licks after you are done. If a dog gets a few licks in while you are bathing it’s okay.

Can I use this with my topical flea/tick products?

Topical products stay in the sebum (oil) layer of the coat to give the 30-day action. If you repeatedly use a product that removes the sebum you are continuously removing the product. I really encourage the oral flea/tick products for this reason. Then it is no longer a factor.

Does dry dog shampoo really work?

This depends on what you want it to do. It’s not a full bath and won’t equal that. It definitely will pull some debris and oil from the coat so it’s great for that purpose.

Is waterless shampoo good for dogs?

It’s good for a spot treatment. It may help to maintain a healthier coat in some dogs that are oily or get dirty often.

Does waterless shampoo clean white paws?

It will help to get dirt and oil from the coat. If you are talking about those red paws from licking, no it will not. Dogs have porphyrins in their saliva and tears (as do people, but lower concentrations) This is literally a red to orange pigment. When you see a white dog with red to orange paws or tear staining the hair is actually dyed that color just like we dye cloth. Nothing can completely remove it.

The final dirt on waterless dog shampoo

Keeping in mind that there are a lot of factors that matter from one dog to the next our top pick for best waterless dog shampoo is John Paul Oatmeal shampoo for sensitive skin. This product has a good natural oat protein that helps fight allergies and itch as well as moisturizers. Dog owners had very high satisfaction with using the product, which is one of the most important factors. The mild almond scent was found to be highly appealing. The company also has a strong positive social mission. If I have to start with a first product to try, I would start here.

A recap of our results…

Top 3 Best Waterless dog shampoos we reviewed

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