9 Best Cat Shampoos for Dandruff, Dry Skin, and Dander in 2023

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When you gaze adoringly at your cat, all you see is a layer of fluffy fur. Because you don’t actually see your cat’s skin, you don’t pay as much attention to it as you pay your own skin. The truth is, however, that cats can suffer from some of the same skin problems people can.

Cat dandruff is a more common problem than you may realize, and it isn’t an issue you should ignore. A few flakes may not be anything major, but they could be a sign of a developing problem. Dry skin could be an indication of poor nutrition, stress, or chronic health problems like diabetes, kidney problems, and heart disease. Your cat’s skin health is a sign of his internal health, so don’t ignore changes!

At the first sign of skin problems, you should have your cat seen by your veterinarian to rule out underlying conditions. Along with proper treatment for the root cause, your veterinarian may recommend bathing with a medicated cat shampoo for itching skin to help relieve symptoms. Read on to learn more about dry skin in cats and how the right cat shampoo could help.

What Causes Dry Skin in Cats?

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Your cat’s skin is protected by a dense layer of fur, but it can still become dry. Cat dandruff is actually very common and can affect any area of the cat’s body, though you’re most likely to notice flakes around the nose, ears, back, and base of the tail.

Dry skin in cats often looks similar to dandruff in humans – flakes of dry skin. Other signs of dry skin may include scabs, bald spots, and scaly patches of skin. Many cats with dry skin also exhibit changes in the condition of their coat. You’re also likely to notice your cat scratching more often or over-grooming. These behaviors can lead to further skin damage and may put your cat at risk for secondary infection.

Here are some of the most common causes of dry skin in cats:

  • Allergies – In cats, allergies often manifest with skin-related symptoms such as dry skin, itching, and redness. Allergies in cats can be related to anything from environmental allergens to food ingredients.
  • Poor Diet – If your cat’s diet is deficient in key nutrients, it could affect his skin. Low intake of essential fatty acids may also cause your cat’s skin to become dry.
  • Weather Changes – When the weather turns cold and the heat kicks on indoors, it can dry out your cat’s skin – hot, dry weather outside can also affect your cat’s skin condition.
  • Parasites – Flea infestations can irritate your cat’s skin and lead to intense scratching that can damage the skin and lead to other problems – lice and mites can also contribute to dry skin.
  • Overgrooming – Grooming is natural for cats, but stress and certain health problems can lead to overgrooming which may dry out your cat’s skin and cause him to lose patches of fur.
  • Fungal Infection – Ringworm and yeast infections are common fungal infections that can lead to dry skin in cats.
  • Health Problems – Older cats are particularly prone to a number of chronic health problems that can affect the condition of the skin and coat – examples include heart disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

If you notice your cat developing dry skin, don’t ignore it. Dry skin is often an indication of an underlying issue and it is definitely something to address with your veterinarian. Your vet will ask about other symptoms to help determine the cause of your cat’s skin issues and to determine the best treatment.

Bathing Tips for Dry Skin and Dandruff

Dry skin is often something that develops over time, so you may need to take a closer look at your cat’s diet to determine the underlying cause of issues like cat dandruff and intense itching. The quality of your cat’s diet matters greatly, as does the content of healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. Improving the quality and nutritional balance of your cat’s diet may greatly benefit his skin, but it will take time to heal. In the meantime, bathing your cat with hypoallergenic cat shampoo could help.

Here are some simple bathing tips to relieve your cat’s dry skin:

  • Line the bathtub or sink with a towel or washcloth so your cat has something to grip.
  • Use lukewarm rather than hot water – using hot water could dry out your cat’s skin even more.
  • Be gentle when working in the shampoo – rubbing your cat’s dry skin too hard could cause irritation and might break the skin, increasing the risk for infection.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue so it doesn’t irritate your cat’s skin once it dries.
  • Gently towel dry your cat or blow-dry on low heat only – using the high heat setting could burn or over-dry your cat’s skin.
When it comes to bathing your cat, choosing the right shampoo is important. Cats have different pH in their skin than humans, so using a shampoo designed for people could make your cat’s skin problems worse. Whether you’re looking for the best cat shampoo for shedding, dandruff, allergies, or dry skin, there are plenty to choose from. Read on to see our recommendations.

The Best Cat Shampoo for Dry Skin and Dandruff

You should always contact your veterinarian about changes in your cat’s body, even for something that seems mild like dry skin. With your veterinarian’s guidance, you can bathe your cat once or twice a week with a cat shampoo for itchy skin to help remove dry, dead skin to recondition his skin and coat.

Here are our top picks for the best cat shampoo for dry skin and dandruff:

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo

Easily one of the most popular pet shampoo formulas out there, this Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo is a great option if your cat has dry, itchy skin or allergies. This formula features soothing natural ingredients like oatmeal and aloe to hydrate and moisturize your cat’s skin. It also gently cleanses and deodorizes, leaving your cat with a pleasant vanilla almond scent. This recipe is safe for cats and kittens over 6 weeks old and is completely free from parabens and phosphates.

Pros: Soothing natural ingredients, gently cleanse and moisturizes, safe for kittens over 6 weeks

Cons: May not lather as well as some recipes, some users disliked the scent

HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo with Essential Fatty Acids

Poor quality diet is a common cause for dry skin in cats and can sometimes be remedied with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. This HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo is like an essential fatty acid supplement for your cat’s coat, designed to soothe dry, itchy skin while hydrating and moisturizing for long-term dry skin relief. Made with natural moisturizing ingredients, this shampoo is gentle and hypoallergenic, designed to control flaking and scaling caused by seborrhea and other skin conditions.

Pros: Soap-free formula, controls flaking and scaling, promotes hydration and nourishes skin

Cons: Contains some fragrance

Paws & Pawls Oatmeal, Shea Butter, & Aloe Vera Shampoo

For everyday bathing, this Paws & Pawls Oatmeal, Shea Butter, & Aloe Vera Shampoo is a great option. It is made with naturally soothing and moisturizing ingredients as well, so it’s perfect for cats with dry skin and dandruff. This recipe features aloe vera and oatmeal to moisturize your cat’s dry skin with a nourishing blend of jojoba and coconut oils. It also contains a delicate balance of subtle essential oil for a pleasant natural fragrance to keep your cat smelling fresh and clean.

Pros: Soothes and moisturizes skin, free from potential irritants, relieves itchy and dry skin

Cons: May not lather as well as some recipes, some users disliked the scent

Vetoquinol Vet Solutions for Itchy, Dry Skin Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo

If your cat suffers from dry, itchy skin, this Vetoquinol Vet Solutions Aloe & Oatmeal shampoo could be the perfect solution. This recipe features a gentle soap-free formula that won’t dry out your cat’s skin and it contains subtle coconut fragrance to keep things fresh. This shampoo produces a rich lather to deeply clean your cat’s skin while adding back essential moisture to resolve dryness and itching. Plus, it’s safe for use with your cat’s topical flea treatments.

Pros: Gentle soap-free formula, resolves dryness and itching, won’t interfere with flea treatments

Cons: Some users disliked the scent

Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo

Skin allergies, parasites, and skin infections can cause severe itching and dryness in cats. This Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo is uniquely formulated to address these concerns, soothing your cats irritated skin and restoring natural hydration. This formula is natural and oat-grain derived, free from drying ingredients like soap. It cleanses your cat’s skin gently, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin, and it contains spherulites that continually release ingredients into the skin and coat after application for extended relief.

Pros: Natural soap-free formula, controls itching and dryness, soothes irritated skin, restores hydration

Cons: Contains some artificial color

TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Oatmeal Dog & Cat Shampoo

If your cat suffers from skin allergies that cause severe itching and dryness, this TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Oatmeal shampoo could provide the relief he needs. This medicated formula contains natural salicylic acid to eliminate flaking and scaling, plus it contains oatmeal for added skin relief. This recipe is enriched with vitamin E and tea tree oil to promote skin health and healing as well, while reducing swelling and irritation. It leaves your cat’s coat smelling fresh and clean without drying out his skin and it won’t affect flea treatments.

Pros: Medicated for severely dry itchy skin, natural ingredients like soothing oatmeal, soap-free

Cons: May not lather as well as some recipes

DermAllay Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats & Horses

If your cat’s skin is severely dry and damaged, this DermAllay Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats & Horses could be the solution. The active ingredient is a ceramide complex that actually rebuilds the skin’s natural barrier to prevent moisture loss. This shampoo is mild and soap-free to prevent further skin irritation and it has a light apple fragrance. Plus, with colloidal oatmeal as a primary ingredient, it soothes and calms your cat’s dry, itchy skin during treatment.

Pros: Ceramide complex restores skin barrier, colloidal oatmeal soothes dry itchy skin

Cons: Some users dislike the scent, may not lather as well as some recipes

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Shampoo

This cat shampoo for itchy skin is a great option for dogs and cats suffering from hot spots and other inflammatory skin conditions. It is made with lidocaine for pain relief, hydrocortisone to relieve itching, and colloidal oatmeal to soothe dryness. This Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief shampoo is completely free from parabens and dyes, plus it is soap-free.

Pros: Relieves itching and dryness, free from parabens and dyes, soap-free formula

Cons: Contains some artificial color, some users dislike the scent

Allerpet Cat Dander Remover

If you’re looking for the best cat shampoo for human allergies, this Allerpet formula is designed to help reduce cat dander. Though not specifically designed for use as a shampoo, this recipe can help reduce dander from your cat’s coat to reduce cat allergies. It features a safe, non-toxic and non-irritating formula that can be applied to a cloth and rubbed on your cat’s fur.

Pros: May help reduce cat allergies, non-toxic and non-irritating formula, easy to apply

Cons: Not designed to clean the coat (simply reduces dander)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What can you give a cat for dry skin? The best way to resolve your cat’s dry skin is to find the underlying cause of the issue. For many cats, it is a poor diet deficient in key nutrients including essential fatty acids. Improving the quality of your cat’s diet may help, or you can give him an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Using a humidifier in your home may help with dry skin as well. Bathing your cat with a cat shampoo for itchy skin can also help resolve symptoms while you address the underlying cause of his dry skin.
  2. How do you get rid of cat dandruff? Getting rid of cat dandruff is often a multi-stage process. The first step is identifying the underlying cause of your cat’s skin issues and starting the proper course of treatment. Depending what’s causing your cat’s skin to become dry, improving the quality of his diet may help. Bathing your cat once a week with a cat dandruff shampoo may help rehydrate and condition his skin to reduce flakiness, and you should brush him regularly as well.
  3. Does bathing make dry skin in cats worse? Your cat does a pretty good job of grooming himself, but medicated cat shampoo can help with certain skin problems such as dry skin and dandruff. Keep in mind, however, that bathing your cat too often or using the wrong shampoo could indeed make his skin problems worse. It’s important to choose a shampoo formulated specifically for cats (their skin has different pH than yours) and to follow the instructions on the bottle carefully to avoid irritating your cat’s skin.
  4. Does dry skin mean my cat is dehydrated? Cats don’t tend to drink as much water as dogs, but hydration is still extremely important. Many pet experts recommend wet food for cats because it supports proper hydration and because it is often higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than dry food. Dry skin may be associated with dehydration, but the more serious signs of dehydration in cats include listlessness, refusal to eat, panting, and sunken eyes. Contact your vet immediately if your cat shows these symptoms.

Many cat owners fail to notice changes in their cat’s skin until the issue becomes pronounced. As a responsible cat owner, it’s your job to know your cat well and to do what it takes to stay up to date on his condition. Regularly grooming your cat gives you a chance to check in on things such as his skin and coat condition so you can catch changes early.

If your cat suffers from dry skin, don’t ignore it! Talk to your veterinarian about potential underlying causes and treatment recommendations. As you’re working to resolve the issue, consider one of the cat shampoos reviewed above to help mitigate your cat’s dry skin and itching.


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