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Waterless dog shampoos freshen up your pet's fur: Here's what to know

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These solutions will help you get your pet clean quickly. Buzz60’s Keri Lumm shares some expert ideas.

Just like with humans, washing a dog too often can strip them of the natural oils they need to maintain a healthy coat and skin.

But dogs can have a knack for getting into messes that can leave them filthy and smelly. Waterless dog shampoos can clean and freshen up your dog between grooming sessions.

Waterless dog shampoos work by absorbing oils and loosening grime so you can wipe your dog clean. They also tend to leave a pleasant scent behind.

Here are five things to know about waterless dog shampoos, plus recommendations on some shampoos to try.

Waterless dog shampoo types‌

  • Aerosol shampoos come out in a fine, powderlike mist. They’re among the easiest to apply and leave very little wetness behind. However, dogs with breathing problems and respiratory issues can inhale it, causing some damage.
  • Foam shampoos are easy to apply, but they take effort to massage into your dog’s coat.
  • Gel shampoos, like foam ones, need to be massaged into your dog’s coat. Keep in mind that sensitive dogs and those that don’t like to be touched much can rebel against gel shampoo’s thick consistency.
  • Powder shampoos are the messiest to apply but the most absorbent and therefore the best for dogs with especially oily coats and skin or dogs that have gotten into watery or oily messes.
  • Spray shampoos are similar to aerosols but come as a liquid rather than powder. These are best for cleaning targeted areas rather than your whole dog. It can be easy to oversaturate areas as you go.


Most waterless dog shampoos are scented, for masking smells and freshening your dog before their next bath. Citrus scents are popular, as is lavender for its calming properties.

Remember, though, how much better a dog’s sense of smell is compared with ours. If you think it’s too strong, your dog is likely to be overwhelmed by the scent. As such, it’s always best to go with the mildest scents you can find.


The best way to apply a waterless dog shampoo is to wipe your dog off as much as possible, apply the shampoo, let it sit, then brush and wipe your dog clean.


Most waterless dog shampoo containers hold 8 to 16 ounces of product.

Small quantities of basic shampoo rarely cost more than $10, but larger containers and high-quality products can cost more than $30.

If you’ve never used a particular shampoo on your dog, buy the smallest size so you don’t waste money if your dog reacts poorly to it.

Hypoallergenic‌ formulas

Dogs can have allergic reactions just like us. If you know your dog has allergy issues, you can find hypoallergenic waterless dog shampoos. Alternatively, if you know what your dog is allergic to, you can search for shampoos that exclude that ingredient.

Topical treatment clashes‌

Some flea and tick treatments require you to apply them to your dog’s coat and skin so they can be absorbed. Since many waterless dog shampoos are designed to absorb similar substances, some can strip these topical treatments away if applied together. If you need to apply both at once, look for a shampoo that explicitly states it won’t interfere with topical treatments.

Jordan C. Woika is a writer for BestReviews, a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.


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