Wait—dogs get dry skin? How am I to know my dog is suffering from a dry skin issue? Is any breed more prone to this skin condition than others? The answer is, yes, dogs can and do get dry skin just like we humans do. The issue of skin conditions is prevalent in some breeds, particularly those that have short coats or have folds of skin. Then, there are dog breeds that are more susceptible to skin irritation, which can lead to dry skin. Some dog breeds suffer from allergies, which can lead to skin problems and even your pet’s health overall.
First, let’s take a look at dog breeds that are prone to skin issues. While dry skin may not be the initial symptom of a skin issue, dogs can lick, scratch or chew on their skin when suffering from an allergy or a skin irritation. This often leads to dry skin on dogs when the irritations begin to heal.
Dog breeds that are more prone to skin issues because of their short coat and/or skin folds include the Shar-Pei, bulldog breeds (the English, the American, pit bulls). Spaniels may have skin irritation around their ears and lip folds. Doberman Pinschers are prone to hypothyroidism, which may directly cause dry skin on dogs. Labrador Retrievers are also prone to allergies that can lead to dry skin. However, pet parents should keep in mind that any dog, any breed can develop allergies or skin problems.
How Do I Know my Dog is Suffering from a Skin Issue?
Simple observation will often help you to see if your dog is suffering from a skin issue. Keep in mind that all dogs scratch and some will gnaw at their skin without ever doing enough to pull out the hair in that area. (Pro tip: Keeping your dog up to date on flea and tick treatment will help to cut down on gnawing due to a parasite infestation.) If you observe your dog repeatedly scratching and gnawing on the same patch of skin, you’ll need to intervene.
Typically, excessive scratching and gnawing at the skin is a sign that something is amiss. Let’s take a look at some possible causes.
What are some possible causes of dry skin aside from allergies?
First, let’s examine your dog’s grooming routine. Do you observe Fido scratching and biting at his skin within a few days of bathing the dog? Ironically, both under-bathing and overbathing can affect a dog’s coat and skin condition.
Dogs should really be bathed once a month. Now, some breeds with long hair or a curly coat may need to be bathed every three weeks when professionally groomed. However, once a month should be your bathing schedule. Yes, Fido will often get into situations where you need to bathe him outside of this schedule. By all means, you do need to get any mud or dust out of your pet’s skin. However, simply bathing him weekly just to do so is not a good idea.
It is also important to make sure that Fido’s shampoo and conditioner are truly all-natural. Not all dog products are what they seem! Dog shampoo and conditioner are marketed to us, pet parents. Manufacturers can and do add ingredients that are definitely not all-natural. The label may read “derived from natural sources,” but this is not true.
Learn to read the labels of your dog’s bathing products. If you see chemical-looking ingredients, put that product away! Here are some product descriptions to avoid:
- “proprietary blend”
- artificial fragrance
- artificial colors (yellow 4, blue 5, etc.)
- Bronopol, DMDM, Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium, sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate
Bronopol, DMDM, and urea products are a form of formaldehyde, which is linked to cancer in many studies.
Be sure to stay away from parabens, cocamide-MEA, mineral, polyethylene glycol or PEG, sodium lauryl sulfate, and polysorbates.
Surprisingly, all of these ingredients are FDA approved, but they have been linked to skin irritation in dogs. So, it pays to read labels. Avoid these chemical-sounding ingredients. Next, let’s look at how a truly all-natural dog shampoo or conditioner should look.
Truly all-natural dog shampoo is going to be a dull yellow. Remember earlier we discussed how dog products are marketed to us? Well, brightly colored shampoos and conditioners are marketed to our sense of sight. Plus, many manufacturers will add fragrance to the shampoo or conditioner. When you open up the top and smell a truly all-natural dog shampoo, it will have very little, if any, fragrance. So, when carrying out the sight and smell test, you want a shampoo that is dull yellow in color and has a very little scent.
You’ll want to check the consistency too. Truly all-natural dog shampoo will have a consistency that is only a little thicker than water.
Now, when you get home with the proper product, don’t be surprised if the shampoo doesn’t lather. Most pet parents don’t realize that lather is the result of adding dangerous chemicals to dog shampoo that can actually do damage to Fido’s skin.
So, to prevent dry skin in your dog, be sure to keep her up-to-date on her flea and tick preventative, only bathe her once a month (or when she becomes very dirty in-between the monthly bath), and choose truly all-natural dog shampoo and conditioner.
I am using the proper shampoo for my dog and he doesn’t have fleas or another parasite that could cause excessive itching. However, he’s still scratching and gnawing at his skin. What gives?
If you can rule out too few or too many baths, you’re using the right products that won’t irritate his skin during the monthly bath, no fleas are present, then it may be time to consult with your vet. It is possible your dog has a food allergy.
Again, let’s look at the ingredients in your dog’s food. Are corn, bone, or animal by-products, and any preservatives (including artificial colors) on the list of ingredients? It might be a good idea to switch to an all-natural food as your dog could be experiencing an allergic reaction.
So, how do I moisturize my dog’s dry skin in the meantime?
You can help to combat dry skin by applying a topical moisturizer that is safe for dogs. You can also use a humidifier if you live in a dry climate.
You can also begin applying Vitamin E drops to the affected area. You can soak Fido in the tub with Vitamin E added (no shampooing). You can also massage a small amount of Vitamin E into the affected area. Be careful about giving your dog an actual Vitamin E supplement; different dog breeds require different amounts.
You can work to add natural moisture to your dog’s skin so that dry skin is prevented. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil a few times a week will help to moisturize Fido’s skin from the inside, plus, olive oil offers a lot of other health benefits.
Dogs with long hair should be groomed regularly so that matting does not occur. Dry skin is also often caused by matted dog hair. All dogs can benefit from weekly brushing, which will remove a lot of dirt and debris from your dog’s coat and skin.
Winter seems to lead to more outbreaks of dry skin on dogs; if possible, keep Fido indoors. Again, if you live in an area with low humidity, you may want to use that humidifier.
You can also speak with your vet about dietary supplements that can help to moisturize Fido’s skin from the inside out.
If you wish, you can also use a dog conditioner when bathing your dog to help prevent dry skin. Use the same discernment when choosing a dog conditioner as you did with the shampoo; it may be a good idea to use one that is of the spray-on variety.
Are there any natural remedies for dry skin in dogs?
You can mix one part apple cider vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle to treat “hot spots” if they occur. Oatmeal bath for dogs is also a method used by many pet parents to soothe dry and itchy skin.
There ARE some specially-made-for-dogs all-natural products that are vet-approved for treating dry skin. Some of these contain olive oil and rosemary. Again, always check with your vet before using any product.
Some pet parents choose to use essential oils on Fido’s dry skin. Again, if your dog has been licking or gnawing at a patch of dry skin, it is probably best to stay away from essential oils. Even though these products are usually natural, they could still be harmful to your dog.
While you don’t want to slather human lotion on Fido, there are some ways you can moisturize his skin from the inside or by using a topical treatment. Be sure to determine if the skin irritation is due to an underlying health issue , but, if you have a dog that is prone to skin issues, using many of these natural remedies can help to prevent dry skin in your furry pal.
1. What can I put on my dog for dry skin?
You can rub a vet-approved product on your dog for dry skin. Some of these products contain Vitamin E. Always consult your vet before using any commercial product for dry skin.
2. How do you moisturize a dog’s skin?
It is best to be preventative. You can spray on conditioner after Fido’s bath, and you may add olive oil or Vitamin E to your food to promote and maintain healthy skin from the inside out.
3. How can I soothe my dog’s itchy skin?
You can mix one part apple cider vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle and apply to affected areas.
4. What can I put in my dog’s food for dry skin?
Vitamin E and olive oil are great additives to your dog’s food for preventing dry skin; however, always consult with your vet on the amount you should provide. Some dog breeds need more or less of these natural moisturizers than others.