Dogs can suffer from dry skin, just the same as humans and whilst in many cases it’s nothing to worry about, it’s uncomfortable for your furry friend and left untreated, can develop into something more serious.
For example, an allergic reaction to something causing your dog to have parched skin and itch may develop into a bacterial infection. So before we learn how to treat a dog’s dry skin, it’s important to know what’s causing it.
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Learning how to treat dry skin on dogs is fairly straightforward as we explain in the article below.
What Causes Dry and Flaky Skin in Dogs
Canine allergies are a thing, whether it’s sensitivity to commercial pet foods or environmental issues like pollen or even household products; it’s a common reason for dry skin in dogs. If left untreated, they can result in atopic dermatitis, which will have your pet constantly scratching and biting their skin and hair loss.
If you think your pup may suffer from allergies you need to visit the vet who will do allergy tests, this can take a while so you could use some of the homemade remedies to soothe the skin while you wait. It may result in medication and making changes to your dog’s diet.
Yeast infections are among the most common reasons for dry, itchy skin; you will usually notice Fido licking or biting their paws. The good news is this can be easily treated with a good shampoo designed for skin irritation. Many have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to treat bacterial and fungal infections.
Yeast infections clear up pretty quickly by using a good shampoo, but a bacterial infection may need a vets intervention. They may prescribe anti-biotics, topical cream or shampoo to clear the infection.
Your pet’s coat will be the first thing to suffer if they are not getting the right nutrition from pet food. To keep skin healthy, a dog’s diet must be rich in essential fatty acids found in fish oil and have essential vitamins that improve skin condition.
You could try adding a small amount of coconut oil or fish oil supplements to their food, If your dog has dry kibble it might be a good idea to change them to wet food. It’s always a good idea to speak to your vet before changing your dog’s diet.
Learn what is actually in dog food here.
If your pooch has an underlying health issue such as Hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease, it will often present with dry skin. This is because they upset hormonal balances resulting in itchy dogs. No amount of topical treatment will fix the problem, although symptoms can be soothed with a good shampoo for itchy skin.
Dry skin can be one of the first signs of illness, autoimmune disease and cancer can also cause the skin to deteriorate so if you are worried about your dog’s skin and they are showing other symptoms such as lethargy, constant hunger, vomiting, loss of appetite, or diarrhoea, you need to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible
Spaying or Neutering
As mentioned above, hormone imbalances can result in dry skin, which is why bitches that have been spayed often suffer from hair loss and flaky skin. Steroids may be prescribed by your vet but do have side effects, so many pet parents prefer a more natural approach when treating dry skin caused by neutering.
Vets aren’t too sure why this happens, sometimes your dog’s hair will grow back, but many pet parents have found using vitamin E oil helps, you could try lemon juice or aloe vera both of which have properties to encourage hair growth and moisturise dry skin.
Too Many Baths
How regularly should your dog be washed? Excessive bathing strips away your pet’s natural oils and may result in dry skin; always use a shampoo designed for dogs as the harsh chemicals in human shampoo can damage a dog’s skin, making them susceptible to skin infections.
. Some dogs need to bathe more than others for example if you have a show dog, one with a high maintenance coat or a pup that suffers from skin conditions, in this case, you will need to use a mild and gentle shampoo, that won’t strip oils from the coat with moisturising qualities
You may think you only need to brush your dog if they have a long thick coat, but grooming is essential even for short-haired breeds. The brush strokes will increase blood flow to the skin resulting in a healthy coat, it gives you a chance to check for any other issues like fleas and it helps distribute natural oils throughout your dog’s coat to combat dry skin.
You could add a small amount of olive or coconut oil and use a massaging brush to stimulate blood flow, daily grooming is one of the best ways to prevent dry skin in dogs.
Cold weather, dry air and central heating can all contribute to your pup’s dry skin, many dogs have no problems during the summer, but as soon as the heating is turned up, they start to scratch their flaky skin. If ignored this can develop into more serious skin problems
You can easily solve this with home remedies or by purchasing a humidifier, which will add moisture to the air. Even a bowl of water by the fireplace can help.
Fleas and other parasites are a leading cause of dry skin in dogs; most dogs are allergic to the saliva of fleas. As your pooch scratches the irritating bug bites, it results in inflammation, raw skin and dryness, which can lead to secondary infections.
To keep your dog’s skin and coat in tip-top condition it’s essential to keep up with flea treatments or use a shampoo that repels parasites such as fleas. It’s vital to also treat your home or the problem will keep recurring.
Symptoms your Itchy Pooch has Skin Problems
Along with excessive itching, there are some other signs to watch out for which can signify skin issues in your pooch.
Dogs with itchy skin often lick the areas, especially paws, so if your pooch is chewing and licking their feet, it’s a sign something is wrong such as yeast infection.
Red skin or hotspots
Constantly scratching at a particular area will result in inflammation or hotspots. If you find any on your dog’s skin, chances are there is something amiss.
You will often see dandruff in dogs with dry skin so if you notice white flakes on your dog’s coat it’s a good indication something else is going on that needs addressing.
A Dull Coat/Hair loss
A dog with dry skin will have a coat that is lacklustre and dull and may even develop bald patches if they are scratching at a particular area. If your pooch is losing its fur chances are there’s a skin problem. Take a look at all the solutions for dogs losing their coats on this page.
When to See a Vet for Dog’s Skin Problems
Dry skin can be a sign of all sorts of problems and once your canine companion starts scratching, it can lead to even bigger issues, a yeast infection is pretty easy to treat with the right shampoo, but you really need to understand why your pet has dry skin before you can solve the problem.
If your canine companion has dry skin and is itching, it’s a good idea to consult your vet, who can rule out certain health issues. They may need allergy tests or other procedures like skin scrapes to determine the cause and your vet will then prescribe medication or recommend a course of treatment. ..
Looking After Your Dog’s Skin
Your dog’s food is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to healthy skin; you will need to feed them a diet with the correct nutrients and vitamins to keep the skin hydrated and their coat glossy.
If your pooch has skin allergies, he may need a complete change of diet. Even if this is not the case, you should feed a high protein food rich in omega fatty acids. Moist food is better than dry food for dogs with parched skin and you could try adding cod liver oil, olive oil or coconut oil to their breakfast.
A good probiotic like kefir can also aid digestion and if your pup is healthy on the inside it will show on the outside.
Grooming your dog daily is one of the best ways to prevent dry skin; the process will stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles and help spread their natural oils through the coat to moisturise it. You could also use this time to spray them with diluted apple cider vinegar in a clean spray bottle which will help prevent infections.
Grooming daily will also get you used to what your dog’s skin is usually like so you will notice any changes quicker, giving you the chance to spot issues like dry skin early.
If fleas cause your dog’s dry skin it’s important to get rid of them as quickly as possible use a topical treatment or a dog flea shampoo which you can find online or at pet supply stores.
Also, remember to treat their bed and around the home otherwise, the bloodsucking parasites will keep coming back. Fleas are one of the leading causes of skin problems in dogs so it’s crucial to keep them at bay.
Not everyone likes the spot-on treatments so you could try spraying Fido with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to keep unwanted visitors at bay, just be careful if there are any sore areas as it may sting.
Dry air results in dry skin, if your pet suffers from parched skin; a humidifier can help in centrally heated homes by adding moisture to the air; even sitting a bowl of water above the fireplace can be beneficial.
Also, avoid using a blow dryer after baths, explain this if your pup goes to a groomer so they can dry him on the lowest heat and use a moisturising conditioner.
Homemade Remedies for Dog’s with Dry Itchy Skin
If your dog is itching because of dry skin, try olive oil, which contains lots of healthy fats plus vitamins E and K plus antioxidants to keep the skin and coat in peak condition. You can rub a small amount into the coat or add a small amount to dog food a couple of times a week. If there are no underlying conditions you should see an improvement in a couple of weeks.
Do you have a small dog that is itching like crazy? Why not try a herbal tea bath? Chamomile tea is well known for its soothing anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Just let a few teabags infuse in the bathwater, then let your dog soak for a while to calm the irritation. Alternatively, you could use a cooled chamomile teabag and press it onto any inflamed areas.
Ah, baking soda. Is there anything it isn’t good for? This fine powder can be rubbed directly onto your dog’s body, made into a soothing paste or added to bathwater. Its antibacterial properties are effective against infections and it provides relief from itchy, dry skin.
Having a dry bath with baking soda is fantastic for dogs that don’t like bath time or large dirty dogs that can’t be lifted into the tub every day. Baking soda removes dirt and odours as well as relieving dry skin.
For a soothing natural way to add much-needed moisture to a dog’s dry skin, make fenugreek paste, which can replenish moisture and help dry, cracked skin heal.
Just soak the seeds overnight, massage the cream into your pup’s skin; and leave for as long as possible before rinsing with warm water. This moisturizing conditioner will have your four-legged friend wagging his tail and you can use it on your own skin too.
Coconut Oil is one of the best home remedies for a dog with dry skin; you can add some to his dog food or directly onto the skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties will relieve any soreness caused by itching and add much-needed moisture to any dry areas.
You should feed up to 1/2 teaspoon per 10lb’s body weight daily and if there are no other issues you can expect to see results pretty quickly.
How can I moisturize my dog’s skin?
You should use a nourishing shampoo when bathing one with vitamin E oil or aloe vera; you could also try massaging a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil into the skin.
Is a raw diet better for my dog’s skin?
A raw diet can be beneficial for dogs that suffer from food allergies, but you need to make sure it contains the correct nutrients; it should be rich in fish oils and vitamin E for a shiny coat.
My dog is always itching, what’s wrong?
There could be several reasons, from allergies to a yeast infection, so it’s a good idea to visit your vet to find the reason before starting the treatment.
Many dogs suffer from dry skin at some point and the most important thing is to establish the cause so it can be treated effectively. It could be allergies, environmental factors, a health condition, a parasitic infection or simply not getting enough of the correct nutrients. A vet visit will help diagnose the problem
A colloidal oatmeal paste can soothe the irritation and there are tons of doggy shampoos designed to tackle dry skin. Grooming your dog regularly may help as could investing in a humidifier in the winter months.
Dry skin is uncomfortable and even painful for our best friends
So if your pet licks its paws constantly or is scratching more than usual it could be a sign that dry skin is a problem. If you have ever wondered what is the best shampoo for dogs, see our main guide here.