Treating Dry Skin in Dogs

Have you ever noticed that in the colder season your skin gets dry and itchy? It can be the same for your dog.  You may have noticed that your dog itches more frequently. Often itching, irritated skin is a telling sign of dry skin. This condition should be looked at and once the cause of dryness is found, treated right away. Often times the treatments that may help you could also help your dog.
Your dog can suffer from dry skin because of a whole host of things. Usually, however, skin problems are the result of improper nutrition, harsh chemicals in dog shampoos, or more serious internal problems. Allergens in the home, fleas, parasites or fungal infections are also common reasons for dry, itchy skin. While it is very important to find out the reason for your pet's condition, I have included some healthy tips to assist you in addressing your dog's problems so that he/she and you can enjoy each other and the wonderful summer season without the irritation of dry skin.

What To Look For

  • Flaky, irritated, and/or red skin
  • Dandruff
  • Infected “hot spots”
  • Your pet bites and scratches himself abnormally frequently
  • Itching and dryness gets worse when there is little or no humidity

Healthy Tips

  • Bathe your dog once weekly with a moisturizing and hypoallergenic shampoo. Lather your pet and leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
  • Avoid flea and tick shampoos for animals with dry skin since they are very harsh cleansers.
  • Look for skin supplements that contain Vitamin A, Vitamin E, zinc, and Omega Fatty Acids.
  • Switch to a better quality dog food for long term skin care. Healthier foods are not only important for your pet's skin health but for its overall health (digestive and weight problems, prolonged life).
  • Look into various options for flea control in your home and the pet's environment.
  • If you believe your pet may suffer from "hot spots" - a bacterial infection resulting from incessantly scratching, biting and infecting the skin please look at the SmartLivingNews article, Cats/Dogs - Hot Spots: Unsightly and Painful Hot Spots in Dogs, for healthy tips and solutions.
  • Take your pet to a veterinarian for a checkup. The vet can assist you in determining the cause of itchiness (allergies to fleas, hot spots, parasites such as worms or mites, fungal infections, acne, or a more serious internal disorder, etc.).
  • Vitamin E is good for preventing those pesky age lines on your face, and it's also great for your dog's dry skin. You can give your pup a doggy massage by applying vitamin E oil directly to the skin, a soaking bath with vitamin E added to the water, or you can pop your dog a pill (of vitamin E, that is). 

  • Sometimes, skin problems are indicative of a liver or thyroid disorder. Again, take your dog to his vet for an analysis.

  • Deliciously plain yogurt is a healthy treat for your dog. Just as with humans, the live acidophilus in the yogurt keeps the good bacteria in your dog's intestines in balance, so that bad bacteria is swiftly knocked out. If your dog is on antibiotics, a little yogurt will also help keep yeast infections at bay (a common side-effect of antibiotic treatment). You can also give your dog acidophilus pills -- wrapping the pills in bacon is strictly optional. 

Pat Mulford •