Dry Skin in Dogs
Veterinarians probably get asked this question frequently: What can I put on my dog for dry skin? But before your preferred vet can answer that question, the vet has to check your dog up first to determine why your dog has dry skin. This is because there are different possible causes of dry skin in dogs, even though the symptoms may be similar.
The good news is that advances in veterinary science research can alleviate many cases of dry skin in dogs nowadays. However, a conscientious vet will document the symptoms to rule out possible causes until a reasonable cause for the dry skin is identified.
Why Do Dogs Get Dry Skin?
For some dog breeds, dry skin can be easily remedied with lotion for dogs. That’s because the dry skin could just need some moisturizers specifically designed for use on dog skin. However, there might be other causes for dry skin that simple dog lotion cannot cure.
One cause of dry skin in dogs is an allergic reaction to certain substances placed or landing on your dog’s skin. Dogs are typically allergic to one or some of the following allergens:
- Saliva of fleas
- Animal dander
- Dog food/lack of certain nutrients
- Other substances in the immediate environment, such as harsh dog shampoos
- Seasonal changes in climate and weather
If you want to identify the trigger for an allergic reaction, you should try to see which one of these seems to be present whenever your dog starts to have dry skin. You could then try to eliminate the presence of the possible trigger one by one until you have isolated the most likely cause.
Another possible cause of dry skin is the presence of parasites on your dog’s skin. These parasites could either be cheyletiellosis (also known as “Walking Dandruff”), canine scabies, or the Demodex mite. When the dry skin seems to be itchy, this may mean that your dog is developing mange because of these parasites.
Your vet also needs to rule out a possible fungal or bacterial infection that may be related to your dog’s dry-skin condition. This can be common in an itchy puppy if it wanders around your yard and comes into contact with fungi or bacteria that way. Your puppy will then need dog itching remedies which your vet can prescribe.
Another possible reason for dry skin is the presence of systemic canine disorders. Two known examples are hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease. In addition, your dog might, unfortunately, have cancer or even an autoimmune disease.
The climate or environment in which your dog lives might also trigger dry skin. For example, dogs develop dry skin if the surrounding air is too cold or dry where they are- an excellent example of this is when pets stay in air-conditioned houses. The same is true if it’s the dry season and your dog doesn’t have enough natural oils on its skin to lubricate it.
As you can see, the veterinarian has their work cut out for them trying to diagnose the cause of your dog’s dry skin. Fortunately, you can help the vet by observing your dog well enough to determine what is really making your dog’s skin dry out and start to itch.
Symptoms of Dry Dog Skin
Common symptoms of dry skin in dogs can include:
- Oily skin
- Dull coat
- Changes in skin color
- Hair loss and/or shedding
- Folliculitis (infection of the hair follicles)
- Yeast infections
- Impetigo (a form of bacterial infection)
Take note that these symptoms can appear one at a time, some at a time, or all at once. There is no hard and fast rule for this. It may be best to keep a notebook to record your observations and the frequency and severity of their symptoms. You can also take photos of the affected skin if you cannot bring the dog to the veterinary clinic.
If you observe your dog closely, you might notice their symptoms sooner than your vet can during a consultation. Then, if you submit the symptoms you jotted down to them, your vet can prescribe the correct dog dry skin remedy.
How to Help Dry Skin on Dogs
If your dog already has dry skin or is on the way to developing dry skin, your regular vet might refer your pet to a specialist in Veterinary Dermatology. The specialist might get some samples of the crusty dog skin conditions by scraping the skin. This is especially useful if the dry skin turns out to be caused by skin parasites.
On the other hand, if the problem seems to be related to a surplus or lack of certain nutrients in the dog’s diet, the veterinarian might recommend a special dietary program. That also applies if your dog is at a certain age and seems to be allergic to certain foods that trigger the skin condition. This is because some dogs are more prone to develop skin problems when they are still young.
Food allergens can include:
If their dry skin is related to a food allergen, the best thing to do is to avoid feeding your dog those ingredients. Ask the vet, “what can you give a dog for severe itching?” The vet might then prescribe certain medications to reduce symptoms like itching. In addition, your dog might be given immunotherapy injections, if necessary.
The veterinarian might also suggest some other dog dry skin remedies, such as switching to a dog shampoo that can remove parasites, using a lotion for dogs, or even reducing the bathing frequency (to avoid over-drying the skin.) After using these suggested remedies, you should watch your dog and report your dog’s response or reaction to the veterinarian afterward.
Since some dry skin conditions could indicate a bacterial or fungal infection, you should try to isolate your pet not to spread the infection to others. Keep your pet comfortable so that it won’t be inclined to mingle with other pets. You may need to record what symptoms you observe in the dog over time to show them to the vet.
Dog Itchy Skin- Home Remedies
Colloidal Oatmeal Bath
If your dog develops dry, itchy skin, there are a few home remedies that you can try out on your pet by yourself. One of these home remedies is the Colloidal Oatmeal Bath. This has been passed down through generations because it is remarkably effective at addressing dog skin inflammation, redness, and even itchiness.
To make the Colloidal Oatmeal Bath, you will need to grind down the oatmeal into a dry powder and then boil it. You can use commercial oatmeal as long as it is natural and sugar-free. The boiling process will extract the colloidal part of the oatmeal. Next, you will need to apply the lukewarm oatmeal to the affected skin of your dog. This remedy is non-toxic, so your dog can lick it safely.
Apple Cider Vinegar Spray
Another dog itchy skin home remedy is an Apple Cider Vinegar Spray. You will have to get a spray bottle and fill half of it with apple cider vinegar. You can fill up the rest of the spray bottle with plain water. Shake it a bit, then start spraying the solution onto your dog’s skin.
Conveniently, this Apple Cider Vinegar Spray can also be a good solution for irritated paws. Put the spray solution in a small, flat-bottomed container, then immerse your dog’s paws in it for about five minutes. This can be quite relaxing for your pet as well. (Bear in mind that this solution should never be applied to open or raw wounds.)
Apple Cider Vinegar Spray is a good option if you want to reduce inflammation and rashes on your dog’s skin. But did you know that you can also eliminate bacterial or fungal infections on the skin of your dog with this? So, it’s a good idea to keep this on hand in case your dog suddenly starts scratching intensely.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an excellent idea to use on irritated skin, but you have to make sure you are using the right kind of coconut oil. Check if the label says that the coconut oil is “Virgin Coconut Oil” and if it is described as “unrefined” or “organic.” Take a small amount and apply it to the red and inflamed area. The irritation should clear up with continued use.
There may be times when you and your pet will be exploring woody outdoor areas where parasites are known to thrive. As a parasite deterrent, you may get some coconut oil and stroke it through your pet’s coat. Parasites will probably not climb to your dog’s coat if they sense the coconut oil, or maybe not in hordes. You can remove any individual parasites by hand.
You may also use coconut oil as an oral dietary supplement for your dog, if necessary. However, some dogs can be sensitive to coconut oil. If that’s the problem with your dog, you may switch to healthy alternatives such as flaxseed oil or salmon oil instead.
The aloe vera plant has remarkable benefits on skin problems, even those of dogs because it is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. If your dog has itchy, irritated skin, and you happen to have an aloe vera plant, use it! Break off a leaf from your aloe vera plant, and apply the leaf’s inner sticky gel to the affected area of your dog’s skin.
If you don’t have an aloe vera plant, this could be the time for you to buy one for yourself. Or you can buy aloe vera gel from your nearby pharmacy or supermarket if you don’t have space at home for a plant. If your pet is prone to dry, itchy skin, then an aloe vera plant may be your best remedy yet!
This product has many uses, but we bet you never thought it could stop puppy itching! Yes, baking soda is an exceptional remedy for dry, itchy spots on your dog’s skin. First, you should get some baking soda, add some water, and make a soft paste. Then, apply it to either crusty dry skin on dogs or to scaly skin on dogs to address itching, inflammation, and rashes.
If your puppy seems to itch all over its body, you can also bathe your dog in a baking soda bath. To make a baking soda bath, add baking soda to lukewarm water in a bathtub or sink, mix the water in the tub by hand, and immerse your dog for some time.
After soaking your puppy for around 20 minutes, rinse and dry it off thoroughly. This should help relieve the itching while resolving the inflammation and rashes.
This dog itchy skin home remedy can work for adult dogs as well. You’ll need to adjust the amount of baking soda accordingly.
Preventing Dry Skin in Dogs
If your dog tends to develop dry skin, it is essential to prevent the dry skin condition from happening in the first place. Here’s how:
- Track down the cause of the dry skin in the dog
- Eliminate the cause of the dog’s dry skin
- Relieve the ongoing symptoms of dry skin in the dog
- Prevent further instances of dry skin by avoiding future contact of the dry skin trigger with your dog
There are also some more specific ways to prevent the onset of dry skin in dogs. These are:
Always Observe What You Are Feeding Your Dog
Some dogs can be sensitive to the kind of food that you are feeding them. For example, your dog might be allergic to their food, as discussed earlier. Some dog food brands are not nutritious enough for your dog, even when it is still a puppy. To avoid a flare-up of a dry skin condition, always give them dog food that is nutritious enough for them.
Some people also make the mistake of giving people-grade food as dog food for dogs. This can be problematic since some dogs are allergic to some food usually consumed by people. This may translate to dry skin or even itchiness. So, to avoid creating problems for your dogs, it is best to feed them dog food that your vet would approve of.
Bring Your Pet Dog to a Vet Regularly
This will help your vet get familiar with your dog’s case so that potential problems can be prevented before they flare up. Some dog breeds can be susceptible to dry skin and other skin conditions. Although this option costs money, you save more by helping keep a small problem from becoming a much more expensive issue later on.
Dog breeds that may tend to develop skin problems like dry, itchy skin are:
- Golden Retrievers- due to their thick coat
- Spaniels- prone to ear and lip fold infections
- Standard Poodle- due to “granulomatous sebaceous adenitis,” which is hereditary
- Chinese Shar-peis- develop skin irritation, especially due to allergies
- American Bulldogs- may develop rare condition named “canine ichthyosiform dermatoses” as well as food allergies
- Doberman Pinschers- commonly develop hypothyroidism
- English Bulldogs- multiple skin folds can lead to skin irritation and diseases
- Labrador Retrievers- may develop allergies for various reasons
- Pit Bull Terriers- may come down with parasites such as Demodex mites within hair follicles due to their weak immune system
If your dog belongs to any of these mentioned breeds, you will want to be extra careful with their care. That is why you need a vet that is familiar with the breed and its tendencies to have skin problems. If your current vet is unfamiliar with such health problems, ask to be referred to a vet with more experience in these matters.
You should also bear in mind that the veterinarian you consulted could make a mistake in diagnosing the cause of your dog’s dry, itchy skin. So, yes, you should always consult a vet if you are unsure about what is triggering the condition. But some vets may not be experienced enough to make a correct diagnosis.
Still, an ethical vet would inform you if they have no idea what is causing the dry, itchy skin. If you doubt the diagnosis of the vet, you could always get a second opinion.
Always Keep Your Dog Bathed and Comfortable
Some dogs get itchy skin because they are often not bathed, while others are bathed too much. Therefore, you need to pay attention to how frequently you bathe your dog to be comfortable enough.
Use the right dog soap and dog shampoo (preferably one that your vet has recommended.) You shouldn’t use human shampoo on your dog because the pH is different from real dog shampoos for dry skin.
Use lotion for dogs (if necessary.) When in doubt, ask your vet, “Can you put lotion on dogs?”
Keep Your Dog Well-Groomed, if Possible
Short-haired and smooth-haired dogs probably will require less maintenance and grooming. They will need frequent brushing to remove any coat tangles. However, the long-haired breeds require more grooming, including regular bathing and brushing. In addition, the breeds with folded facial skin need more attention within the folds, possibly requiring lotion for dogs as well.
There are some grooming mistakes that dog owners may be guilty of. One error is using a hairdryer to dry off the dog after bathing. This is a mistake because hair dryers may dry out your dog’s skin excessively, even when the dryer is in the coolest setting. Best to use a towel instead to remove surplus moisture and fluff up hair to dry out naturally.
Checking concerns like these make your dog less likely to develop a dry skin condition or get the appropriate veterinary attention if a skin condition already exists.
What Happens if Dry Dog Skin is Left Untreated?
Dry skin is admittedly an itchy problem to scratch if you’re a dog owner. Fortunately, many vets are experienced enough to provide a dog itchy skin home remedy for your pet to stop scratching. What if you don’t have a vet to advise you as a dog owner? You might wonder, “What can I put on my dog for dry skin home remedy, and what should I do if there is none?”
Naturally, a dog that keeps scratching will feel miserable if there is no relief. The dog could develop atopic dermatitis, a skin condition marked by red spots, inflammation, and even more itching. In addition, the relentless scratching could cause wounds in your dog’s skin (which can then become infected and get a secondary infection).
That would make frequent visits to your veterinarian necessary and can drain your wallet. In addition, you would have to borrow money to pay for the more complicated veterinary treatment. Your pet might even get sicker and die from the secondary infection (if left untreated).
If the cause of the itchiness is contagious, that means other pets, you, and your family members are at risk of developing itchy skin as well. As a result, you would have to pay for your medical treatment, as well as those of your spouse and children. In addition, this can affect your bank account significantly.
These are just some outcomes that you have to look out for if your dog develops dry, itchy skin. As you can see, it is imperative to address the problem at the start before it leads to further undesirable consequences.
Dog Food Ingredient List to Prevent Dry Skin
In a perfect world, you would be able to feed your dog, and it wouldn’t be a problem. But realistically, if your dog tends to develop dry, itchy skin, it might be necessary to narrow down the list of acceptable ingredients in the dog food you buy. That way, you don’t have to take your dog to the vet often to address its skin problem.
Some ingredients (or perhaps the better word is “supplements”) can contribute to the healing of dry, itchy skin. They are:
- Amino acids
- Vitamin E
- Coconut oil
- Salmon oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids
If you are planning to switch to a better dog food brand, make sure most, if not all, of these ingredients are included in the formula. None of these is a “magic bullet” that will address the dry, itchy skin by itself. However, by combining some of the ingredients into the dog food brand, your dog might stand a better chance of staying healthy and will stop itching all over.
One possible hindrance is finding a particular dog food brand with the majority of these ingredients. However, you can still protect your dog from dry skin by buying individual batches of these different ingredients to mix into the dog food. This is a good option too if you can estimate the perfect optimal amounts and volume of supplements for your dog.
You should always bear in mind that a dog’s itchy skin condition could be transferable to humans too. So always keep your itchy dog away from infants and toddlers. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the pet. This will ensure that no one in your home will catch your dog’s skin condition as well.
The good part is that this problem with dry, itchy skin can help you bond better with your pet dog. Make sure your dog knows that you are trying to support it with these treatments. A dog that is not stressed will respond better to any dry, itchy skin treatment. That will put your dog well on the way to a full recovery and a comfier life with you in time.