What Is Tearless Dog Shampoo? (Vet Explains)

Updated on
Fluent Woof is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.
what is tearless dog shampoo

You want the best for your furbaby, and that includes their shampoo. While many people believe that all dog shampoos are the same, it’s not true. Some shampoos contain toxic chemicals that can harm your pooch’s skin and irritate his eyes, and that’s no fun at bath time.

On occasion, I would get a call from one of my pup parents after they accidentally got shampoo in their dog’s eye while they were giving their pooch a bath. As a result, the eye had become swollen and red, and they wanted to know what to do. Naturally, the first thing I would do was offer immediate first aid procedures and set up an office visit.

Once I treated the inflammation and made sure Fido’s eye was OK, I always educated my clients about tearless dog shampoo. I took the time to explain how these mild formulas can help reduce the chances that shampoo will sting a dog’s eyes and cause such severe inflammation.

So, just what is tearless dog shampoo? In this post, I’ll explain what makes a shampoo tearless and how it can help protect your pup’s eyes. We’ll go over the differences between tearless and regular dog shampoos and whether it’s safe for you to use your shampoo on your pooch. In case you ever get tearless shampoo in your pup’s eyes during a bath, we’ll discuss what you should do about it.  

We’ll take a look at puppy shampoos and if all puppy formulas are tearless. Then, I’ll provide you with a brief overview of five popular tearless dog shampoo brands.

So, let’s get started.

What Is Tearless Dog Shampoo?

When it comes to tears, there are few situations that are worse than trying to get your dog clean while he’s crying. The last thing you want is for your pooch to be unhappy and uncomfortable during a bath. If you’re looking for the best tearless shampoo for dogs, you’ll need to know what makes it that way.

It’s important to understand that tearless dog shampoos don’t literally mean no tears. The word “tearless” is used as a marketing label for pet shampoos that are less likely to irritate a dog’s eyes during bath time not because they’re completely incapable of irritating your pet’s eyes. These kinds of shampoos are not actually 100% guaranteed to prevent tears or other eye irritations but they are less likely to irritate than non-tearless formulas. 

There are many different tearless formulas out there. The key is the ingredients list. Tearless formulas eliminate harsh chemicals like fragrances, sulfates, and preservatives that could irritate the eyes. 

Look for a pH-balanced shampoo that is made with natural, gentle ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil that tend to be less irritating to the eyes.

Tearless dog shampoo doesn’t have any harsh ingredients such as sulfates and fragrances that could sting your dog’s eyes. These formulas aren’t necessarily 100% tear-free, but they’re less likely to irritate your pup’s peepers than traditional products. 

How Does Tearless Dog Shampoo Work?

owner is giving his dog a bath with a tearless dog shampoo

Tearless dog shampoo helps keep your dog’s eyes protected while you wash them. While tearless shampoos usually don’t completely eliminate eye irritation, they do help to minimize it.

This type of shampoo includes gentle cleansers that are safe and less irritating for your furbaby’s skin and eyes. Some also contain conditioners that coat the hair shafts. Creating a barrier between Fido’s eyes and the shampoo, the conditioner helps to prevent the solution from reaching his sensitive eyes.

With ingredients like aloe vera gel or vitamin E, tearless dog shampoo can soothe and moisturize the skin around your pal’s eyes which helps to prevent redness and watering. Some products also contain chemicals that help to replenish any tears that are lost during washing. This helps reduce irritation of the eyeball and protects against dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca).

Tearless dog shampoo includes gentle cleansers and conditioners to minimize eye irritation while you bathe your pooch. Formulas use ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E help to soothe the skin surrounding the eye, and some products add chemicals to replace lost tears and prevent dry eyes.

Tearless Shampoo vs Regular Shampoo: What’s the difference?

Regular shampoos contain a wider range of artificial ingredients and harsh substances than tear-free varieties. While tearless and regular shampoos share some common ingredients like surfactants and conditioners, there are others such as fragrances and preservatives that you will only find in one type of formula. 

Many tearless dog shampoos contain a carbomer, which helps to coat your dog’s eyes to protect them and reduce stinging. Additionally, tearless formulas use specially formulated conditioners that create a protective barrier around the eyes to prevent suds from contacting your dog’s eyes. These materials work together to minimize irritation to your furbaby’s eyes.

Regular dog shampoos usually contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS),  a foaming agent that creates lather. Unfortunately, SLS can sting the eyes and cause irritation if your pooch has sensitive eyes. The result may be inflamed conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids). If this happens with your dog, stop using the shampoo immediately

Tearless and regular dog shampoos have some common ingredients, but there are significant differences in the formulas. Regular products usually include foaming agents and other ingredients that cause eye irritation while tear-free dog shampoos have special conditioners and other ingredients that minimize stinging of the eyes. 

Can I use human tearless shampoo on my dog?

Pet parents may be tempted to use their tearless shampoo on their canine companions, but there are justifiable reasons to use products that are specially formulated for dogs. Simply put, human shampoos, including tearless formulations, are generally not safe for dogs. 

First, dog skin pH is far more acidic than human skin, which means your pup’s skin is more likely to be damaged by the higher pH of your shampoo. This is particularly true if your furbaby has sensitive skin or allergies. The alkaline ingredients in tearless shampoos can cause irritation and inflammation in the skin, which can lead to dryness and flaking.

Another issue with washing your dog with your shampoo is that it may have ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Human tearless shampoo often contains substances like alcohol, fragrance, and preservatives that aren’t safe for use on dogs. These ingredients can irritate the skin and cause inflammation, which can result in dryness and flaking.

Tearless shampoo that’s formulated for humans is not safe to use on dogs because it’s likely to have the wrong pH and may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. The alkaline nature of human shampoo can be irritating or damaging to your pup’s skin.

What happens if a tearless dog shampoo gets into the eyes?

dog with a tearless shampoo on his fur

Tearless dog shampoos are designed to be gentle on your dog’s eyes. Usually, they’re even safe for puppies who are just learning how to groom themselves. However, there are still some risks that come with using these products.

The biggest concern is that the detergent in tearless shampoos can cause minor irritation to the eye. Detergents are very mild, so they shouldn’t cause permanent damage. However, they can still cause temporary irritation of the eyes if they get into them.

If you’re using a tearless formula on your dog and it gets in her eyes, you should rinse her eyes with clean water to remove any product residue. If she’s still having trouble seeing or is acting overly sensitive to light, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

There are some dogs that are more likely to have adverse reactions to tearless shampoos. For example, if your pooch has allergies or sensitivities to regular dog shampoo, they may also react to tearless formulas.

Fortunately, the ingredients in tearless dog shampoo are mild and less likely to irritate your pal’s eyes, but there are still risks. The detergent can cause some irritation if it contacts the eyeball. If this happens, flush Fido’s eye to remove the soap. Dogs with allergies or sensitivities may also react to tearless shampoo. 

Are all puppy shampoos tearless?

No, not all puppy shampoos on the market are tearless. If you’ve ever used water that’s too hot or rough on your pup’s face, then you have probably seen how painful it can be for them.

Using a tear-free product can help you avoid causing your furbaby to feel that kind of discomfort. 

Tearless puppy shampoos usually have gentle ingredients such as mild surfactants that are less likely to irritate your dog’s eyes or skin. They’re also dye and fragrance-free to avoid containing anything that could trigger an allergy or sensitivity.

On the other hand, regular puppy shampoos frequently include harsher chemicals that may cause irritation in some young pups. The detergents are stronger, and the formula may contain dyes, fragrances, or preservatives. Choosing a tearless formula is a better option if you have a sensitive canine. 

Not all puppy shampoos are tearless formulas. The difference between regular and tearless puppy shampoos is in the ingredients. Tearless shampoos are dye and fragrance-free and usually free of conservatives while regular puppy shampoos may include these substances. Additionally, the detergents or surfactants in tearless puppy shampoo are milder.

Overview of popular tearless dog shampoo brands 

If your pooch has sensitive skin and eyes, you may want a tearless formula that’s mild and gentle. To help you find a suitable brand for your pooch, we have provided an overview of five popular products below.

Espree Hypo-Allergenic Tear-Free Aloe Vera Dog Shampoo

Made with natural, plant-based ingredients, this tearless product from Espree is formulated to be gentle on your sensitive pooch’s skin. The simple list of materials includes aloe vera to soothe and heal the skin, jojoba oil to hydrate and moisturize the coat, and vitamins A, D, E, and Panthenol. These ingredients make the product beneficial for dogs who have dry or sensitive skin. Because it’s made to be hypoallergenic, it’s free of fragrances, dyes, and parabens that could irritate the eyes. The formula is safe for dogs of all ages and it’s compatible with flea and tick treatments.

Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo with Buttermilk

Burt’s Bees Tearless Puppy Shampoo with buttermilk is mild and gentle for your pooch. The natural ingredients in this product help to cleanse the coat without causing irritation. Including calming chamomile flower extract, gentle lanolin, and soothing aloe vera, this tearless shampoo is suitable for puppies or dogs with sensitive skin or allergies. It helps to soothe dry skin and reduce the risk of tears during bath time. This tearless shampoo also contains lanolin, which conditions the fur while removing dirt and oil buildup. There are no fragrances, dyes, or harsh chemicals in the formula, and it’s compatible with flea treatments.

Bio-Groom Silky Tear-Free Protein Lanolin Dog Shampoo

The ingredients in Bio-Groom Silky Dog shampoo are designed to reduce the risk of eye irritation in your pet. For example, the natural ingredient lanolin helps to soften the coat, moisturize the skin, and protect against dryness. As an antioxidant, vitamin E can help support healthy skin and coat. The shampoo also has aloe vera and chamomile to provide additional conditioning and soothing benefits. The ingredients in this product combine to cleanse the fur without irritating or drying out the skin or coat and reduce the risk of tears during bath time.

The formula can also be used as a leave-in conditioner, so it’s an excellent choice for long hair or double-coated breeds like German Shepherds. With no parabens or sulfates in the shampoo, the formula shouldn’t strip away natural oils from your dog’s skin.

Bluefeather Oatmeal 2 in 1 Dog Shampoo and Conditioner for Dry Itchy Sensitive Skin

Using natural ingredients like oatmeal extract and lavender essential oil this shampoo helps to soothe your dog’s skin and prevents tearing. The lavender essential oil also works as an antibacterial agent to cleanse and freshen your dog’s coat. There are no harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances. This formula is 100% biodegradable and contains no harsh chemicals or parabens, so it’s safe for dogs with sensitive skin and puppies 6 weeks old and up.

Arm & Hammer Tearless Puppy Shampoo, Coconut Water Scent

Made with coconut water, this tear-free shampoo is gentle on your puppy’s skin. It also contains a blend of ingredients that are safe for puppies that are 8 weeks and older. The coconut water comes from the young coconut fruit. This ingredient contains minerals like potassium and magnesium that are essential for healthy skin. Coconut water is also a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C. These nutrients help maintain healthy skin cells on your dog. When combined with other ingredients like aloe vera gel and oatmeal extract, the coconut water in this shampoo helps relieve itching while keeping your dog’s coat soft and shiny. Vitamin E helps protect against free radicals and moisturizes the coat. It rinses off easily, leaving no residue behind.

The Final Woof

cute brown dog is waiting to be bathed

While there’s really no such thing as 100% tearless shampoo, some products are formulated to reduce the risk of irritating your pup’s eyes. These products do not contain harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or chemical preservatives.

Instead, tearless shampoos usually include natural substances that are mild and designed to be gentle on the eyes and skin. They may also include conditioners that help to create a barrier between your pup’s fur and his eyes so that suds are less likely to reach the eyeball.

If you’re bathing your pooch with a tearless dog shampoo, and some of the soap accidentally gets in her eyes, flush the affected area with soap-free water to remove any residue and monitor your pooch. 

When it comes to choosing a tearless shampoo for Fido, you may wonder whether you can use your tear-free products to wash your dog. The answer is no. Human shampoos are not safe for dogs. However, many puppy shampoo formulas are tearless.

Always check the label to make sure the product has gentle cleansers and surfactants, and that it’s free of dyes, fragrances, and preservatives.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

Leave a Comment