Best Waterless Dog Shampoo – Top Picks & Reviews (Updated for 2018)

waterless dog shampoo

After reviewing 15 products we have found that Vet Recommended – Waterless Dog Shampoo – No Rinse Dry Shampoo for Dogs, Detergent, and Alcohol-Free is the best waterless dog shampoo on the market today. The ingredients contained in the product are safe and contain no harmful chemical both for humans and dogs.

Comparison Table

 Best Waterless Dog ShampooOur Rank
1Vet Recommended - Waterless Dog ShampooThe Winner
2FURminator deShedding Waterless SprayRunner-Up
3Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Waterless Grooming FoamAlso Great

**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

What is Waterless Dog Shampoo?

Waterless dog shampoo or also called dry dog shampoo, as you can guess from the name, is a type of shampoos that do not require water like a good old traditional wash and soap. Speaking of waterless, I still wonder why this shampoo is named “waterless” shampoo since it is not completely waterless, it still contains water and leaves your dog hair wet…

How Does Dog Waterless Shampoo Work?

Basically, what waterless dog shampoo does is it cleans the excess oil from the skin and hair of fur – restoring the shine and leave a fresh scent. It is convenient, and more and more dog owners use it. Many manufacturers promise that this shampoo can be used one hundred percent as a replacement for the normal dog shampoo.

Imagine when you can bathe your dog without going through all the hassles of dog regular bathing and washing – just apply the shampoo and brush it off.

But the truth, no matter how convenience this waterless dog shampoo might seem, if used incorrectly, it will bring more harm than good.

The Danger of Waterless Dog Shampoo

As we have previously explained, used correctly, waterless shampoo utilizes starch powders and clay (or also called Fuller’s Earth) to absorb excess oil from the dog skin and hair of fur. It’s quick and convenient if used correctly, but when used wrongly, this shampoo will do more harm than good.

Those two substances: starch powders and clay, when used too much, will absorb more than just the excess oils, clog the hair, and destroy your dog’s natural immune system.

Some brands in the market promise to deliver waterless shampoos that can match traditional shampoos, other brands promise completely safe shampoos for your dogs. Regardless how promising they might seem, you must remember this one thing: there is no waterless shampoo that can replace the good old wash and soap.

When to Use a Waterless Dog Shampoo?

Although waterless dog shampoo can be harmful if you abuse it but if you use the shampoo correctly, it could come in handy in certain situations. For example:

  • When you are on the go. There will come a time when you need to clean your dog but it is not possible to give your dog a complete bath — for example when traveling. In this situation, the waterless shampoo that you just bought recently could become a lifesaver. You can simply apply and clean your dog from any dirt and debris that might tag along the road.
  • Used for extending bath times, touch-ups, or post surgery cleaning of your dog. You can apply this shampoo to keep them clean and smell fresh without putting them in a tub and risking their incision wet again.
  • As a temporary replacement for complete bathing on a dog which has an aversion to water. You can use the shampoo to clean them up while they are undergoing training to treat the phobia.

How to Use Waterless Dog Shampoo?

Using waterless dog shampoo is quite simple, you just need to apply or spray the waterless shampoo on the area which you want to clean, spread the shampoo, and wipe it off with a dry towel. To understand more about the process, let’s watch the video below:

What to Avoid?

When it comes to dog waterless shampoos, knowing what to avoid is more important as some of the ingredients used in the dog shampoos can be toxic. Whenever you see some of these ingredients mentioned below listed in the bottles’ shampoos, throw them away immediately. The following are some of the most dangerous ingredients:

1. Formaldehyde preservatives have been known to trigger an immune response that can include burning, itching, blistering, or scaling of the skin. Not only linked to an immune response, some studies have concluded that formaldehyde preservatives can also cause cancer.

Check the bottle carefully to find one of these names: Bromopol, Doazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin (often mis-typed on dog shampoo bottles as DHDH hydantoin), Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-7, -15, -31, -61, and Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

2. Artificial fragrance. Some artificial fragrances have been known to pose real risks of exposure to toxic ingredients and cause cancer.

3. Artificial colors. Some brands use artificial colors to visually enhance the products. While it might look appealing to you, but what they don’t tell you is some of these artificial colors are linked to organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions.

4. Paraben preservatives are linked to estrogen disruption, cancer, and reproductive issues. They are usually listed with these names:  Butylparaben, Methylparaben, or Propylparaben.

5. Isothiazolinone preservatives are linked to severe allergic reactions and possible neurotoxicity. They may be listed on the bottle as Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone.

6. Pthalates are used to chemically tie fragrance with the other ingredients. If you see fragrance listed on the label, there is a great chance that pthalates are present. These pthalates are linked to disruption in endocrine system.

7. SD Alcohol 40 (also called isopropyl or SD-40) can cause toxic ingredients to build up in your dog’s body. This ingredient enhances the absorption rate of your dog’s skin to any other chemical ingredients around them — good or bad chemicals.

8. Proprietary blend of coat and skin conditioners and moisturizers. In other words, this statement can be quickly translated: “this product is made of some ingredients that we don’t want you to know!” If you find this statement on the bottle, save your money and look for another product.

9. PEG-40 Lanolin is a polyethylene glycol derivative of lanolin which is used in cosmetics as an emulsifier and emollient. This ingredient is linked to organ toxicity. Some studies have even suggested that this ingredient may be contaminated with dioxane and ethylene oxide. They are used as a solvent in the manufacture of other chemicals and as a laboratory reagent, and both are linked to liver, kidney damage, and cancer.

10. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is used by manufacturers to help their products absorb deeply into skin to increase their effectiveness. Some studies have also suggested that this ingredient is often contaminated with pollutant including ethylene oxide, dioxane, polycyclic aromatic compounds and heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cobalt and iron. While PEG may help the product penetrate the skin more easily, so will all the contaminated chemicals that the PEG contains.

11. Propylene glycol is a synthetic chemical that is widely used in many industrial and commercial products ranging from antifreeze, liquid, laundry detergent solvents and paint. This ingredient has the same trait with PEG as penetration enhancer and linked to many health problems such as skin irritation, allergic reactions, kidneys and liver damage, cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, cancer, and many more.

12. Concamide MEA or cocamide monoethanolamine, is produced from the fatty acids in coconut oils when reacted with ethanolamine. This ingredient is often used in shampoo as forming agents and a nonionic surfactant.

Although it is perfectly safe to use (according to FDA), to a certain extent, it can become dangerous as the concamide MEA can react with other ingredients to form harmful substances known as nitrosamine. In large doses, this nitrosamine can potentially become carcinogenic which has a potential to cause cancer.

13. Triethanolamine (TEA) is a strongly alkaline substance used as a surfactant and pH adjuster. This ingredient is used in some personal care and cosmetic products such as eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, shampoo, fragrance, skin care, skin cleansing products, and many more. This ingredient has proved dangerous with short-term and long-term effects ranging from skin and eye irritation to respiratory and immune systems damage and cancer.

14. Mineral oil is widely used to help the dogs’ skin preserve its own moisture. And even many dog parents have suggested putting a drop of mineral oil in the dogs’ eyes before a bath to protect the eyes to keep the shampoo out. Is mineral oil really safe to use? Many mineral oils are not pharmaceutical grades and therefore is not safe. They are contaminated and linked to possible neurotoxicity and severe allergic reactions. If the brands only use pharmaceutical grade mineral oils such as hydrocarbon and benzene then it is safe.

15. Sodium benzoate preservative is dangerous when mixed with citric acid or ascorbic acid as the mixing may produce benzene which is linked to leukemia and other blood disorders and cancer. When you see sodium benzoate preservative is listed on the bottle, make sure the other ingredients are not there.

16. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) can be found in many cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners. Research studies on SLS have shown links to skin and eyes irritation, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and cancer.

17. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is very similar to SLS and used as a surfactant (cleaning agent). It’s less irritating to skin and hair than SLS, but it’s more dangerous. The problem lies in the manufacturing process. To make the ingredient milder (less irritating), manufacturers put it through a process called ethoxylation. The problem is that ethoxylation produces a chemical called 1,4-dioxane which is a known carcinogen — cancer-causing agent.

18Ammonium Laureth Sulfate is used as a cleansing agent (surfactant) that remove oils and dirt and foaming agent. Just like all surfactants, this ingredient can cause irritation. It also poses the similar risk with SLES as the ingredient may be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.

19.Polysorbates are often used as a surfactant or emulsifier in cosmetic products. This ingredient is added in dog shampoo to give you a thick, foamy shop. This ingredient is simply dangerous, it may react with both the scalp and skin, disrupting the skin’s natural pH balance, and destroying the skin’s natural protective barrier.

20. Cocamidopropyl betaine is surfactant found in many personal care products, including shampoo, toothpaste, and body wash. This ingredient has been associated with skin irritations and allergic reactions.

Best Waterless Dog Shampoo Reviews

All products that we review here, more or less, have the same features with one another, such as no-rinsing formula, spray and swipe, soothes damaged skin, to use between baths. What makes them different are the ingredients found in the product.Therefore, we review these products based on how safe the ingredients are for you and your dog.

As a side note, we would still recommend you to consult with your vet first before buying any of the product that we recommend below:

1. Vet Recommended Waterless Dog Shampoo – No Rinse Dry Shampoo For Dogs, Detergent and Alcohol-Free, Apple Extract – Perfect For Spot Cleaning The Dog Coat.

We pick the Vet Recommended Waterless Dog Shampoo as the best waterless dog shampoo. It has the same features as other waterless shampoos but the difference is this shampoo has the safest ingredients we have ever seen compared to other waterless shampoos available on market. Not forget to mention this shampoo has an apple fresh scent which is my favorite.

The ingredients are deionized water, a mild surfactant blend, apple extract, no alcohol, and no animal by-product.  It doesn’t contain artificial dyes which can discolor the coat. Also, it doesn’t contain alcohol, alcohol is a dangerous ingredient for the pet as it can cause severe toxicity. And as for animal by-product, the ingredient has been associated with increased cancer risk.

2. FURminator deShedding Waterless Spray, 8.5-Ounce

FURminator deShedding Waterless Spray comes in second place. This shampoo comes in second place because there are three ingredients contained that become our concern. Those ingredients are Omega 3&6 Fatty Acids, Chamomile Extract, and Glycerin.

Omega 3&6 Fatty Acids are quite safe, but when given in large dose, it can lead to many health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, blood coting problem, and a weakened immune system. While Chamomile Extract, this ingredient has many benefits for humans and dogs, however, when ingested in a large dose, it can lead to many negative side effects. The effects are ranging from mild toxicity to internal bleeding. And as for Glycerin, when ingested in a large dose, can cause digestion system problem.

To be sure, consult with your vet first before buying this shampoo.

The ingredients: Natural Surfactants, Water,  Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Oat Protein, Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids, Cranberry Seed Oil, Kava Extract, Calendula Extract, Vitamin E, Chamomile Extract, Aloe Vera, Papaya Leaf Extract, Safflower Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Glycerin.

3. Earthbath Waterless Hypo-Allergenic Grooming Foam for Dogs

We include Earthbath Waterless Grooming Foam on our recommendation list because this product contains safer ingredients when compared with other brands.  However, there are still two ingredients that become our concern, they are Shea Butter and Colloidal Oatmeal. Those two ingredients might cause an allergic reaction. To be sure, check with your vet first before using this shampoo.

The ingredients include Purified Water, Sucrose-derived Cleansers, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Colloidal Oatmeal, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Preservative.


The Vet Recommended Waterless Dog Shampoo is still our top recommendation for the best waterless dog shampoo in 2018. It is still the best dog shampoo with the safest ingredients compared with other available dog shampoos that in the market.