During the winter, dry skin is a common problem that can become quite irritating. While we pet parents have soaps loaded with moisturizers and lotions we can put on our flaking, cracked skin, our canine companions aren’t quite as lucky. That’s right -- just because they are cloaked in fur doesn’t mean that their skin doesn’t suffer the ravages of the season. And while dry skin can occur during any season, it is most often a result of excessive exposure to the warm, dry air indoors, and the chapping effects of the cold air outside during the winter.
Here are a few dry dog skin treatments.
A daily brushing is a good place to start, as part of the itchiness might be caused by a lack of natural oils on your dog's skin, causing their fur to seem dry and brittle. A brushing can help stimulate the production of these oils, helping their fur regain its natural sheen as well as reduce itchiness.
Bathing is another good way to soothe itchy skin, just make sure you don’t overdo it, as bathing can actually end up removing the very oils you are trying to get back. Use a medicated dog shampoo containing oatmeal protein, or give them an oatmeal protein colloidal, which you can make by adding 4 cups of finely ground oatmeal (per 20 lbs of dog) into a lukewarm bath, gently washing your dog in the oatmeal bath. After the bath, wipe some tea tree oil, fish oil, baby oil, or even olive oil over your dog’s fur, drying them off by patting their fur, and leave them wrapped in the towel until their fur is dry to ensure that the oils are absorbed into their skin.
While the cause for the dry skin is most likely climate related, a minor dietary change could make all the difference. A tablespoon or two of flaxseed or olive oil two to three times a week can help replenish some of the essential nutrients your dog needs to keep their skin from drying out. Other foods that can help add some moisture to their skin are a whole raw egg or a single sardine in olive oil, but as these foods can be a bit richer than what they are used to, only give it to them once a week.
A change of dog food could also be a solution, although be sure to check with your vet to be sure any new food you choose will meet your dog's needs. These are a couple of foods specially designed to help keep your dog's fur nice and oily:
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin Beneful Healthy Radiance Skin Premium Edge Skin & Coat
Also, do everything you can to keep your dog well hydrated, as dry skin can become exacerbated by dehydration.
Helpful Medications and Supplements
Certain vitamins and supplements can help alleviate your dog’s itchy skin. Make sure they are loaded up with enough fatty acids, like omega-3 and vitamins E, A and B3 (niacin), which are all responsible for helping your dog keep their coat shiny and healthy.
There are also a number of over the counter sprays and salves that can offer some immediate relief from itchy, dry skin, such as:
Bayer ExpertCare PetRelief Hc Veterinary Formula Clinical Care
If the condition persists, there are some prescription medications your vet can give you. Often using topical corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation, these drugs are normally only given for serious cases of dry skin, such a pruritus, but if your dog’s dry skin becomes a recurring problem, it might be worth it to ask your vet about one of the following treatments.
Dexamethasone Gentamycin Betamethasone Dipropionate
Your pet's dry skin could also be caused by an underlying issue such an endocrine disorder, so if their dry skin doesn't let up, talk to your vet.
More on Dog Skin Treatment
Dog and Cat Dermatitis: Itchy Skin in Pets
When Dogs and Cats Itch: Pruritus
Hot Spot Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.