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A regular grooming routine will help to keep your pooch’s coat clean and healthy. And while not all dogs enjoy their bath time, the slippery struggles are worth it when you get to snuggle into that clean fur. But some dog shampoos can also strip your pooch’s coat of its natural oils, so do you also need to add a dog conditioner to their bathing routine? Designed to moisture and nourish canine fur, conditioners can also detangle, soothe the skin and leave your pet’s coat super-soft and smelling fresh. We brush up on some of the best dog conditioners so you can help to keep your pooch’s coat healthy, shiny and smooth.
If you’re curious how the dog groomer gets your pet’s coat looking so good but don’t want to spend grooming salon prices for professional conditioners, then Cowboy Magic could be the solution. This leave-in conditioner has a rich formula to rival salon brands. And the fact that you don’t need to rinse, makes this a great value choice for fuss-free bathing.
With concentrated silk proteins, Cowboy Magic pet conditioner moisturizes and strengthens your dog’s fur, while helping to reduce knots and tangles. It’s also non oily so won’t weight down your pooch’s coat and as it has no water or alcohol, doesn’t need to be rinsed out. It can be used on both wet and dry fur; just massage small amounts into your pet’s fur then smooth out with a brush. Yes, your hands may get a bit gunky and you shouldn’t use too much, but the results are worth it.
A popular brand for pets when it comes to grooming, this all-natural product from Wahl is a hard-working one to boot! A shampoo and conditioner in one, it cleanses, moisturizes, detangles and conditions, all without harsh ingredients. And we like that it’s a concentrated formula, meaning you get a whole lot of bath times for your money. Containing natural lavender and chamomile, Wahl Four-in-One is also a good choice for a dog with more sensitive skin, as it can help to calm and soothe irritations. It lathers and rinses well, although you will need to use more on a long-coated dog. The fresh smell is quite strong; however, it does linger on their fur for a decent amount of time.
Shampoo and conditioner in one
Cleans, moisturizes, detangles and conditions
Natural ingredients, including lavender and chamomile
If you are looking for a richly conditioning product that’s suitable for short-haired breeds, then this hydrating butter conditioner is worth a try. As a leave-in conditioner, it’s easy to use, helped by the handy pump dispenser, so a good way to condition the coat of a slippery or fast-moving pet! And, although it is rich, thanks to the emollient ingredients, it’s not greasy and won’t leave an oily film of your dog’s fur. What we also like about this Hydrating Butter is that it continues to work for up to 24 hours, releasing its hydrating and conditioning benefits every two hours. And with two formulas – guava and mango or pomegranate and acai – this light butter won’t weigh down fine or short hair.
The Stuff is another leave-in conditioner for dogs, but with a difference, as it can also help to repel dirt, dust and urine as well as works to prevent tangles. And the way it does all of this is that it uses water on your dog’s freshly bathed coat to travel deep into the fur, so it gets to where it’s needed the most. Suitable for all coat types and lengths, the formula is also PH balanced and hypo allergenic so is a good skin conditioner for all dogs, even pets with sensitivities. Opt for the ready to use dog conditioner spray and you are good to go. Simply spray on your dog’s fur, focusing on any matted or tangled areas then leave it in to do its work. However, you do need to use it sparingly and be careful not to get on the floor as it can be a bit ‘slicky’.
Formulated for dry or sensitive skin, this two-in-one shampoo and conditioner from Pro Pet Works smells delicious and is safe for frequent use. With almond oil and aloe vera, this dog wash effectively cleans mucky pups and nicely reduces that wet dog smell. And as it’s designed for skin that is irritated by food, grass or flea bite allergies, it is soap, detergent and sulfate free so can also be used as a puppy conditioner. The aloe vera deeply soothes the coat and helps to keep it hydrated, post-bath, while the almond oil’s natural vitamin E helps the skin heal and stay healthy. We like the level of lather this shampoo and conditioner creates and it’s pretty easy to rinse, to leave your dog’s coat feeling nourished and happy.
Colloidal oatmeal is renowned for its soothing and moisturizing properties, which makes our Premium Pick a conditioning powerhouse for your dog’s coat. And the luxurious formula is also 100% biodegradable, paraben and cruelty free so kind on the environment too. Yes, Earthbath oatmeal and aloe vera conditioner does have a premium price tag, but you get large 16-ounce bottle and a little of this rich formula goes a long way. As a detangler and moisturizer, it has an impressive ingredient list, which also includes food-grade vanilla and almond to detangle while leaving your pooch’s coat with a delicate, fresh smell. Use after shampooing, you do need to rinse this conditioner off, but it won’t affect any flea treatment so is safe to use, all year round.
When conditioning for dog, sometimes less is more, and with this concentrated formula from John Paul Pet, a little certainly goes a long way. Using natural botanical extracts along with conditioning agents, including oatmeal and chamomile, this rinse is also safe for puppies as well as sensitive skin. PH balanced, Oatmeal Conditioning Rinse is easy to use, with a small amount massaged into your dog’s fur before rinsing with clean, warm water. Once dry, your dog’s fur is easier to comb, tangle-free and has a subtle almond scent. From the same company behind human haircare range, Paul Mitchell, this is a great value conditioner that leaves your dog and his fur feeling soft and healthy.
FURminator, the creators of the popular deshedding tool, already understands the need for healthy fur, so adding this conditioner to their range makes good sense. And at a great everyday price, this dog conditioner is excellent value for money. Using this rinse-out formula when bathing your pooch helps to release the undercoat, especially during your dog’s seasonal fur ‘burst’, reducing shedding and keeping their fur in tip-top condition, all year round. However, you do need to leave the conditioner on for around 15 minutes for the best results, which may be tricky for some pets who are not bath time lovers. However, with aloe vera, omega 3 & 6 oils and chamomile, the effort it worth it for the conditioning qualities of this paraben-free formula.
We all know a good grooming routine is beneficial to your dog’s coat and skin, and most dogs benefit from a regular bath. But your grooming could leave their fur in a drier condition, as while the shampoo removes all that grime, one downside is that it can also strip their coat of its natural oils. Over brushing can also damage their fur, while their skin can also dry out if insufficiently moisturized.
Adding a specially formulated dog conditioner to your pooch’s bathing routine can help to ensure their fur and skin is protected and moisturized, leaving it soft and healthy and their coat shiny. A dog conditioner effectively helps to replace lost oils, repairing damage, nourishing fur and skin, relieving itchy skin and helping to protect it from environmental damage. And for dogs with an unruly coat, long or short, wiry or thick, a dog conditioner can improve its manageability, reduce static and help to prevent knots and tangles from forming.
Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Hair Conditioner
Before choosing a dog conditioner, it’s important to consider the following:
Your dog’s breed and fur type: Not all dog breeds will necessarily need a separate conditioner when they are bathed. Some breeds, such as Labradors have naturally oily coats and may not need a conditioner as it could actually weigh their fur down and leave it feeling greasy, not healthy. If you are in any doubt as to whether a conditioner is a good idea for your dog, chat to your veterinarian or dog groomer.
Allergies or skin conditions: Just like us humans, some dogs have naturally sensitive skin or could have skin conditions and allergies that could be irritated, not soothed by a dog coat conditioner. They may also react to certain ingredients, commonly found in dog grooming products. When choosing a dog coat conditioner, check the ingredient label for any red flags such as harsh chemicals or known allergens and always do a test patch if your dog is prone to skin sensitivities.
2-in-1, wash-off or leave-in conditioners: You can also choose from a choice of convenient formulas, depending on your dog, their coat and also how well they enjoy their bath! To save time and energy when bathing your pup, especially if bath time is not one of their favorite things, you can use a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. For fur that needs an extra moisture boost, a leave-in conditioner for dogs is a good option to consider, although they can leave the coat feeling a little greasy if too much is used. Or, for normal coats, a wash-off formula should work well.
Safe and non-toxic ingredients: Whether your pooch is sensitive or not, always choose dog conditioners that only lists pet safe and non-toxic ingredients, that are as natural as possible. Ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba and oatmeal are all good choices. And avoid any harsh chemicals that can be too harsh on your dog’s coat and skin, including parabens and propylene glycol.
Scent or scent-free: Avoid choosing heavily scented dog conditioners if you are wanting your dog to smell sweeter for longer, as a strongly scented product can be unpleasant for your pet. Opt for scent-free or if you do want some freshening, look for a natural fragrance that is kinder on your dog.
Environmentally friendly: Opting for an ethical and sustainable product that is safe for the environment is also a good way to choose the best dog conditioners. Organic, cruelty-free and all-natural ingredients will mean the conditioner will be kinder and safer for your dog as well as the environment.
Our Top Pick
For dogs, cats and even horses, Cowboy Magic Detangler and Shine is a rich, leave-in conditioner which is easy to use and has impressive results. Massaged into either wet or dry fur, there is no need to rinse, meaning it is quick and easy to apply. The double concentrated silk proteins work their magic and as there is no water or alcohol, can be safely left on your pooch’s fur. Our top pick is an excellent pet conditioner, and also works to reduce matting, tangles and knots for a shiny, happy coat.
Dr. Mark Stickney, Basic Grooming, Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
You need to avoid using your own conditioner on your dog as their skin and fur won’t thank you for it. Human hair and skin have a different PH level to that of dogs, and so human conditioners can be too harsh for your dog and will most likely irritate their skin. Conditioners for dogs have been specially formulated to work with the PH balance of canine skin and fur, ensuring it doesn’t dry it out or damage their coat.
Before bathing your dog’s coat, first make sure it is well-brushed to remove any knots or tangles in their fur.
If you are wanting to make using dog conditioners part of their regular bath time routine, then first follow your usual bathing process, using an appropriate dog shampoo for your pet, lathering it well, and then rinsing with warm water thoroughly. Once there is no trace of shampoo left on their fur, squeeze an amount of the conditioner into the palm of your hand and apply to their fur, massaging it in so it reaches into the roots and their skin. If you can – or the product directs it – leave the conditioner on their coat for a minute or two, then rinse thoroughly with fresh, warm water.
There is a lot of opinion on whether dog conditioners are appropriate to use on a shorthaired coat, but the general answer is that it depends on the needs of your dog’s short fur. Greasier or heavy conditioners can be too much for finer fur, weighing it down and leaving it feeling greasy, even after rinsing. But many conditioners also contain skin and fine fur-beneficial fur ingredients, such as aloe vera and silk proteins which can actually boost your shorthaired dog’s coat. If you do want to use a dog conditioner on short or very fine fur, choose a light conditioner, ideally one that has been formulated for your pet’s particular coat type and follow the user instructions, to get the best results.