DIY Dog Dry Skin Treatment (and Handy Medications) What to Give Your Itchy Dog

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Dry skin is a problem, and not one that only affects people. Dogs suffer from this affliction as well, and because of that, it pays to understand the ins and outs of dog dry skin treatment. Learn some cheap and easy DIY treatments here, as well as when to take your dog to the vet.

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 arenโ€™t quite as lucky. Thatโ€™s right -- just because they are cloaked in fur doesnโ€™t mean that their skin doesnโ€™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.

Grooming Tips

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. 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 donโ€™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 dogโ€™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.

Diet Tips

While the cause for 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 dogโ€™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 its 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:

  Veterinary Formula Clinical Care - Hot Spot & Itch Relief Medicated Spray

             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 as pruritus, but if your dogโ€™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

Other Causes of Dog Dry Skin

Your pet's dry skin could also be caused by an underlying issue such as an endocrine disorder, so if their dry skin doesn't let up, talk to your vet.

7 Common Causes of Dry Dog Skin

No one likes dry, itchy skin, and that goes for dogs too. Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, it can also be a symptom of an underlying condition that needs to be treated before it gets worse.

Dry Dog Skin General Symptoms

The most obvious symptom exhibited by dogs with dry skin is itchiness. A dog with dry skin may scratch, lick, or bite itself -- sometimes to the point of causing injury. A dog with dry skin might also rub up against furniture to try to relieve its itchiness. Other symptoms include hair loss from excessive scratching or skin that appears dry, flaky, scaly, or otherwise irritated.

Possible Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Dry Dog Skin

Cause #1: Fleasmites, or mange

  • Symptoms: Bites from parasites can irritate your dogโ€™s skin, and some dogs can have an allergic reaction to the parasiteโ€™s saliva. Excessive scratching and biting are the primary symptoms, and with fleas, you may see a specific focus on the back and tail area. With mites, you may see dandruff and scaly skin, and ear mites can cause your dog to shake their head violently. With mange, you will often see hair loss, sores, and scabs.
  • Treatment: Anti-parasitic shampoos, dips, and on-the-spot products can help remove parasites and relieve irritation. First, rid your home of the infestation, and then ask your veterinarian about starting your dog on treatment to avoid future problems.

Cause #2: Allergies

  • Symptoms: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies. Some common allergens include fleas, mold, dust, pollen, perfumes, smoke, medications, shampoos, and food. In addition to scratching, a dog with allergies may exhibit irritated skin, runny eyes, sneezing, vomitingdiarrhea, snoring, and paw chewing or swelling.
  • Treatment: The treatment will depend on your dogโ€™s specific allergy. If your dog is allergic to fleas, it should be on a flea control product. If your dog has food allergies, hypoallergenic food or a diet prescribed by your veterinarian may solve the problem. For other allergies, certain injections can decrease the severity of your dogโ€™s reaction. Supplements and medications may also be recommended in some cases.

Cause #3: Poor Diet

  • Symptoms: A low-quality diet means that your dog is not receiving the essential nutrients that make for healthy skin and a shiny coat. You may see itching, flaking, and redness.
  • Treatment: Switch your dog to high-quality food. Your veterinarian may also recommend supplements that contain essential fatty acids.

Cause #4: Irritating Shampoos

  • Symptoms: Dogs should only be bathed with shampoos intended for dogs. Human shampoos or other harsh shampoos can dry out and irritate your dogโ€™s skin. You may see itching, redness, and flaking.
  • Treatment: Switch to an all-natural dog shampoo for sensitive skin. Bathe your dog no more than twice a month, as excessive bathing can dry out your dogโ€™s skin and make the problem worse. Your dogโ€™s skin may also benefit from a moisturizing spray or lotion that is made specifically for dogs.

Cause #5: Cold weather

  • Symptoms: Cold or windy weather -- especially when combined with the dryness caused by indoor heating systems -- can really take a toll on your dog. If their dry skin is caused by seasonal changes, you will see an onset of symptoms like itching and flaking as the weather begins to turn.
  • Treatment: Limit the time that your dog spends out in the cold and switch to a moisturizing shampoo, like one that contains soothing oatmeal. Brushing your dogโ€™s coat will help to stimulate oil production, and natural products like tea tree oil, calendula extract, fish oil, or vitamin E can be applied directly to your dogโ€™s skin. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil to your dogโ€™s food 2 or 3 times a week can also help to clear up dryness.

Cause #6: Fungal and bacterial infections

  • Symptoms: Certain conditions can make your dog susceptible to fungal and bacterial skin infections. In addition to scratching, dogs with infections may also exhibit irritated skin (hot spots, redness, crusting, or thickening), hair loss, sores, and scabs.
  • Treatment: Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medications, and bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, however, the underlying condition that made your dogโ€™s skin susceptible to the infection must also be treated.

Cause #7: Thyroid diseases

  • Symptoms: Conditions such as hypothyroidism can cause your dogโ€™s skin to become dry due to a lack of essential hormones. Your dogโ€™s coat may appear dull and brittle, and you may see excessive shedding. Skin thickening and darkening, lethargy, weight gain, behavioral changes, and intolerance to exercise are other common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
  • Treatment: Dogs with thyroid problems are commonly treated with thyroid hormone replacement drugs.
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.

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Skin Allergies Hot Spots Pruritus (Scratching/Itching) Dermatitis Dandruff & Flaky Skin Shedding

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