Not only are fleas unpleasant for pet parents, but they’re also unpleasant for your dog. Treating your pooch for fleas regularly can help prevent infestations or deal with them in their early stages. While you’ll find a wide range of flea treatment options, the trusty flea shampoo is a classic choice. You can choose to use a pesticide-based flea shampoo as your main line of defense, or a natural flea shampoo in addition to a topical or tablet anti-flea treatment.
Our vet advisor, Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, reviewed dozens of flea shampoos for dogs to identify the best of the best. To narrow down her options, she compared various factors, including active ingredients, efficacy, overall cost, package size, and average customer reviews, and she chose Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea and Tick Shampoo as her top pick. With the inclusion of the ingredient Pyrethrum, this shampoo will kill both fleas and ticks on contact, making it worth its weight in gold for some pet-lovers. Read how she chose the top 5.
If you’re interested in other options for flea eradication or flea treatment, if only for supplementing your flea shampoo, you may want to opt for the flea medicines or even flea collars, for a less hands-on approach. Just bear in mind those methods may get pricey.
Our Vet’s Top 5 Flea Shampoo for Dogs
Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
|How long does it Last?
|What does it kill?
|Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea and Tick Shampoo
|Adult Fleas, and Ticks
|Best Budget Buy
|Sentry Oatmeal Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs
|Fleas, Flea Eggs, and Ticks,
|Best for Puppies
|Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo with Precor
|Fleas, Flea Eggs, Ticks, and Lice
|TropiClean Natural Flea and Tick Maximum Strength Shampoo
|Fleas, Ticks, Larvae, and Flea Eggs
|Best Dry Flea Shampoo
|Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Waterless Bath Foam for Dogs
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
Who Should Buy a Flea Shampoo for Dogs
- Regular bathers – If your pup is used to bathing, then finding a good flea shampoo for him is a good way to make sure your pup stays itch-free. Incorporating flea-specific shampoo into his regular baths likely won’t even register as a change for him, and the risk mitigation is well worth that switch.
- In-and-out dogs – For the dog that spends an extended amount of time outside, particularly in a yard or park that hasn’t been treated to prevent fleas, you’ll do yourself and your dog a favor by taking the preemptive strike of purchasing a quality flea shampoo.
- Ultra-sensitive dogs – If your pup is particularly sensitive to fleas, then you’ll want to give him his best chance at prevention and elimination of flea infestations. After all, it’s far easier to prevent an outbreak of fleas than to get your poor, irritated dog’s flared, allergic skin back under control.
Who Should Not Buy a Flea Shampoo for Dogs
- Dogs who hate bathtime – If bathtime is a nightmarish struggle, you might be better off with a different kind of flea treatment. Some flea shampoos are also handy to prevent or remove fleas and ticks in between other flea treatments (tablets or topical “spot-on” treatments, for instance).
- Ultra-sensitive dogs – You’re not misreading, this can be a reason for using a flea shampoo and for not. Your dog may have a more allergy-like reaction to the stronger flea medications than he does the fleas themselves – however, you can mitigate that by finding a more natural, gentle formula.
Research Tips (From a Veterinarian)
If you thought finding fleas on your dog was frustrating, wait until you start treating them. Choosing a product to combat flea infestations can be challenging and overwhelming, to say the least. Fortunately, we’re here to help you weed through all of those proclaimed flea shampoos for dogs that are out there on the market today. We hinted at some of the aspects of a good flea shampoo for dogs above. So, let’s expand those features to help you narrow down the choices for your dog.
- Safety – It’s got to be safe if you’re applying it to your dog. Look for recommendations from your vet and reviews from other consumers. Some of the chemicals used in flea shampoos can actually be quite toxic, especially if used incorrectly or ingested.1 Find a product with low or no chemical content and be sure to use it correctly.
- Efficacy – Obviously you’ll want a product that works, otherwise, you’ll just be bathing the fleas, rather than killing them, along with your dog. The trick is to find a flea shampoo for dogs that is effective, yet safe. Along with this, you’ll want to look at the time it takes to kill the fleas. Some act immediately, others might not kill fleas for several hours. Choose something with a quicker kill time, because when your dog has fleas, you want them gone now.
- How to use it – Whether or not your dog likes baths, bathing with a flea shampoo can be a whole other story. Some flea shampoos will ask that you let the product sit soaking on the skin for a prolonged period of time, while others will ask for repeat applications and rinses. Find a product with directions that are easy to follow and attainable for you and your dog. This is especially important for those pups that don’t appreciate bath time as much as others. For them, a waterless or dry shampoo may be better.
- Availability – When your dog has fleas, you want to get rid of them now, not when the product comes back in stock. Your best bet is to find a product that is commonly on hand at your local pet supplier and online just to be sure it’s there when you need it.
- Cost – Some flea shampoos for dogs can get pretty pricey. So, be sure that what you are buying is in the amount that you need and at a price you can afford.
- Natural vs regular – Natural flea shampoos are usually considered safer for your pet and you. However, they may not be as effective. These shampoos often use essential oils as a flea repellent rather than a chemical as a flea killer. Find a balance that you’re comfortable with between a highly safe, yet effective flea shampoo.
- Puppies – Young puppies present a special concern when it comes to flea shampoos. This is because their young, little bodies are especially susceptible to insecticides. Most flea shampoos are labeled for puppies over 12 weeks of age, so if you have a puppy with fleas that is younger, consult your veterinarian.
- Miscellaneous – Once you’ve met the above criteria, there’s room for a little flare. This can come in the way of pleasing scents or even textures. Maybe you prefer a flea shampoo with a little more lather so that you know you got all of the areas covered. Or maybe your dog is prone to sensitive skin and you want something that is gentler or more moisturizing. You also may be in the market for a concentrate that will treat many different dogs. There’s a flea shampoo out there for you. Ask your veterinarian for more specifics.
How Much Do They Cost?
You can rid your pet and your home with fleas through meticulous cleaning and the regular use of flea shampoo, and that makes it, possibly, the least expensive way to do so. However, you’re still looking at around $10 for a bottle of flea shampoo. Some of the budget buys will run around $5, and others being upwards of around $15, but as a general rule, you’ll probably spend right in the middle of that range. Depending on how often you wash your dog, you can expect a bottle to last around a month.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pango Pets
When choosing a flea and tick shampoo for dogs, the main focus is on safety. After all, most of these shampoos contain chemicals that are used to kill fleas. While most of the time these are harmless to pups, they can sometimes be very detrimental. Protect your pup from possible toxins and harmful chemicals by choosing a product that is safe with good reviews and a veterinary recommendation. Next, look at how the product is used and the efficacy of it. Finally, price and availability should be considered. – Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM,
The Best Flea Shampoo for Dogs: Full Reviews
You might think you’ll need to stick to natural flea shampoos for a dog with sensitive skin, but that’s not necessarily the case. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo is a strong formula with triple-strength Pyrethrin as the active ingredient. But as it’s PH-balanced and free of damaging detergents, irritating soap, and parabens, you can rest assured that it will be gentle on your dog’s sensitive skin.
It kills fleas and ticks on contact, but it won’t provide ongoing protection, so you will need to bathe your dog regularly, or use it in conjunction with another form of flea control. This flea shampoo for dogs has a light, clean fragrance that gets rid of bad doggy smells but doesn’t linger for too long.
- Soap and paraben-free
- Clean scent
- Triple strength formula
- Often shipped in poor packaging
- Dries skin and coat
Looking for a flea shampoo for dogs on a budget? Sentry Flea & Tick Shampoo with Oatmeal is proof that you don’t have to spend a lot to say farewell to fleas and ticks. With a price tag of around $5 for an 18-ounce bottle, it’s in almost everyone’s price range.
The active ingredients of Permethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide kill fleas and ticks on contact, as well as for a maximum of an additional 10 days, so the protection doesn’t stop as soon as you’ve rinsed and dried your dog. The oatmeal formula is designed to soothe dry and itchy skin, which is good news if your four-legged friend is itchy from flea bites.
- Kills fleas and ticks for up to 10 days after treatment
- Contains soothing oatmeal
- Pleasant ginger smell
- Not for use on puppies
- May cause dandruff
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense flea and tick shampoo that will clear up current infestations and offer future protection, Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor is the choice for you. Despite being a highly effective flea treatment, it only costs around $11 for a 12-ounce bottle, which is fairly affordable.
As we mentioned above, it kills fleas (in all life stages, including eggs), as well as ticks and lice. What’s more, the added Precor provides 28 days of control of pre-adult fleas, killing them before they become biting adults, helping to break the flea life cycle and get rid of infestations for good!
- Kills pre-adult fleas for 21 days after application
- Active ingredients are (S)-Methoprene, Pyrethrins, and Piperonyl Butoxide
- Leaves coat soft and shiny
- Potent toxins to kill fleas and ticks
- May cause dry skin and coat
If you’re looking for a less chemical-heavy shampoo for your dog, TropiClean Natural Flea and Tick Maximum Strength Shampoo may just be the answer to your problems. It uses clove, lemon, cedarwood, cinnamon and sesame oils, as well as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (a detergent) to eradicate your dog of fleas and ticks. That means that you won’t have to worry about your pup reacting too terribly to this shampoo; the extreme reaction in most cases is dry skin, not seizures or death and that’s a huge weight off a dog parent’s shoulders.
While there are mixed reviews about how effective it is, the idea is that the natural essential oils can both kill and prevent fleas and ticks. Many users swear by it, but some question how effective it is, so you may just need to try it and see if it works for your pet.
- Uses natural oils and detergents, no chemicals
- Pleasant aroma
- Safe for regular bathing use
- Exclusively natural ingredients may mean it’s less effective
- Thin consistency makes more mess
Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Waterless Bath Foam for Dogs is an excellent option for ridding your dog and home of fleas even when your pup simply hates the bath. Even if your dog doesn’t mind the process, sometimes we just don’t have the time it takes to give pup a daily bath – and that’s what a lot of flea shampoos require of you if you want to be truly rid of those pesky fleas. No water, no lathering, just simply spray this dry shampoo into your dog’s coat, allow it to sit, and towel dry. You may have better results by massaging in or repeating the process, but if you only have time for that single application, that will still work, given time.
The plant-based formula of this dry flea shampoo makes it safer than a lot of its competitors and the clove and peppermint smells make having your dog around all the more pleasant – something that wouldn’t be possible without evicting those fleas!
- Natural ingredients
- No water needed
- Made from peppermint oil, eugenol, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Fewer chemicals mean possibly less effective
- Only kills adult fleas
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I wash my dog with flea shampoo?
Will flea shampoo get rid of fleas on my dog?
Does flea shampoo expire?
Will regular dog shampoo kill fleas?
- Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, Ahna. Pyrethrin/Pyrethroid Poisoning in Dogs. VCAHospitals.com. Accessed April 22, 2021.