5 Treatments For Cat Dry Skin

Getting Rid of Your Cat's Itchy Skin

By November 15 | See Comments

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A Cat Scratching Behind Their Ear

Dry skin is no fun for anyone, including cats, but there can be many different reasons for it. Luckily, there are just as many ways to get rid of it. Find out more here on what is causing your cat's dry skin, and more importantly, how to help.

Can Cats Get Dry Skin?

Dry skin on cats is not only possible, but actually very common across all breeds. The easiest way to tell if your cat has dry skin is if you notice patched, flakey spots around their coat. Another telltale sign that your cat has dry skin is if you see them constantly scratching and itching, especially if they’re focused on a certain spot on their body. The nose, back, ears, and base of the tail are some of the more common areas where a cat can develop dry skin.

What Does Cat Dry Skin Look Like?


Your cat's dry skin can appear as bald spots, scabs, scaly patches, or flakes that look similar to dandruff. These symptoms can appear anywhere on your cat, however they're most commonly found around the nose, tail, lower back, and ears. Once you’re certain that your cat has dry skin, the next step is figuring out what’s causing it, and then appropriately treating it.

Dry skin is a common concern for cats,  often bringing cats and their pet parents to the veterinarian. Here we’ll discuss the possible reasons for cat dry skin, and how to handle a serious issue or tell if it is just regular old wintertime chapping.

What Are the Top Home Remedies for Dry Skin on Cats?

Wondering what the best home remedies for dry skin on cats are? Use the following five remedies to treat your cat’s dry skin and heal their discomfort quickly:

  • Use a cat food that has a higher protein content.
  • If you suspect your cat has allergies, consult with your vet to determine an allergy elimination plan.
  • Use an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement to provide natural moisture for your cat’s skin.
  • If your home is naturally arid, use humidifiers to help protect your cat’s skin from becoming dry.
  • Use a natural moisturizing agent (such as coconut oil) on your cat’s dry areas. Certain shampoos and essential oils can also be used as remedies for dry skin on cats.

INDICATIONS OF DRY CAT SKIN

Dandruff and flakiness are the primary indications that your cat has dry skin. The skin itself may appear dull when you part the fur to have a look. Also, your cat may be itching, scratching, or licking more than usual.

CAUSES OF DRY CAT SKIN

More often than not, dry skin is a red flag alerting you to some other condition. By addressing the real issue, dry skin should go back to normal. The most common causes of dry cat skin are:

  • Allergies: Your cat may be allergic to anything from an ingredient in their food to the pollen in the air. They could also be reacting to something in their environment, like a new bed or grooming product.
  • Poor Diet: Your cat’s food may be short on vitamins and minerals. Their dry skin could be an indication of a deficiency.
  • Changes in the Weather: When the weather gets colder and heaters come on, everyone’s skin gets dry. Luckily, this type of dry skin is easy to treat.

Other, less common causes of dry cat skin can include:

  • Fleas: Sometimes a flea infestation can cause dry skin. Getting rid of the fleas should resolve the skin problem, unless an infection has also developed. In this case, antibiotics, or a special ointment, may be necessary.
  • Lice and Other Parasites: Eliminating the parasite should resolve the skin issues.
  • Overgrooming: Sometimes cats get carried away with their self grooming. Over grooming can indicate a serious medical problem or a behavioral issue like OCD. Both the medical problem, and the excessive licking, can lead to dry skin.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections like yeast infections, ringworm, and sporotrichosis, for example, can lead to dry skin. Sporotrichosis can spread to humans, and should be managed right away.
  • Serious Health Conditions: Older cats are especially susceptible to diseases like hyperthyroidism, heart conditions, and diabetes. Dry skin can be early indications of one of these issues.

5 TREATMENTS for Cat Dry Skin

1. A Better Diet

  • More Protein: Most commercial dry cat foods are low on protein and high on carbs, which is the opposite of what nature requires for a cat’s health. The solution? More protein. Consider buying a higher protein food and/or mixing some wet food into your cat’s diet, and see how their skin fares.
  • Eliminating Allergens: If you think your cat has an allergy, ask your vet to help you plan an elimination diet to identify the source of the allergy.

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids & Other Supplements

If your cat already has a well balanced diet, consider an Omega 3 supplement. The benefits of fish oil for pets even go beyond skin moisture -- some tests indicate it may help prevent cancer. You may also consider a more general supplement, like Dermatrix, that includes keratin for skin health.

3. Topical Treatments, Shampoos, and Grooming

  • Shampoos: These should only be used if your cat has gotten very dirty, greasy, or sticky. Otherwise there’s almost no reason to bathe a cat.
  • Flea and tick Topical treatments will rid your cat of existing lice or flea infestations, which may resolve their related skin issues.
  • Brushing your cat regularly will help spread their own natural skin oils.

4. Antibiotics & Antifungals

Prescription medication will be necessary for just about any infection-related skin condition. Your vet will know which medication is needed.

5. Household  Changes

  • Dry Heat: If the air is dry in your home because the heat is on, bring a humidifier into the room your cat spends the most time in.
  • Allergies: Have you changed laundry detergents? Brought in a new scratching post? Started using a new household cleaner? Your cat’s dry skin could be a reaction or an allergy to one of these substances.
More on Skin Health

 Dog and Cat Dermatitis: Itchy Skin in Pets
Cat Dandruff Remedies and Solutions
Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide

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.

  • General Allergies
  • Skin Allergies
  • Dandruff & Flaky Skin
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Dry Cat Skin at a glance

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  • 1Dry cat skin can sometimes be an indication of a more serious condition.
  • 2Allergies, dietary deficiency, and colder weather can all cause dry skin.
  • 3Some dry skin issues are fungal, bacterial, or related to pests. Use a monthly pest preventative.
  • 4Home grooming and dietary adjustments can often resolve dry cat skin.