Dry skin in dogs is a very common problem. General symptoms you’ll see in a dog with dry skin is itchiness – dogs may lick, scratch of bite themselves, hair loss from excessive scratching, and skin that appears to be dry, flaky, scaly, or irritated in some other way.
Have you noticed you dog seems to be itching a lot more than usual, or their skin looks a little on the dry side, but don’t know why?
According to PetCareRx.com, the 7 most common causes of dry skin in dogs are:
1. Fleas, mites, or mange
3. Poor diet
4. Irritating shampoo or over-bathing
5. Cold weather
6. Fungal and bacterial infections
7. Thyroid disease
1. Fleas, mites, or mange:
Bites from parasites, or any insects, can irritate your dog’s skin. After being bitten, your dog may be excessively scratching or biting themselves.
Flea bites – dry skin, scratching, hair loss, infections, and scabs.
Mites – dandruff and scaly skin
Ear mites – extreme and excessive shaking of the head
Mange – hair loss, sores, and scabs
While these parasites are a pain and cause irritations for your dog, there are things you can do to treat them.
There are many flea preventative medications on the market to stop fleas before they even get the chance to bite. Topical medications repel and kill fleas. Flea collars are another option in keeping fleas off of your pets. There are also oral medications that you can give your dog that work from the inside-out to prevent fleas.
There are anti-parasite products you can use, like shampoos, dips, and sprays, that help get rid of the parasites and clear up the skin problems.
Much like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies. These allergies can be seasonal, environmental, or related to food. Common dog allergens include fleas, mold, dust, pollen, medications, shampoos, and food.
Some symptoms of allergies include itching, scratching, irritated skin, and runny eyes. In some cases dogs may experience sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, snoring, and paw chewing and swelling.
A vet can do allergy testing to determine what your dog is allergic to.
There are medications your dog can take for allergies. There are also hypoallergenic products, like food, treats, and shampoos, that you can use for your dog with allergies. If your dog is allergic to a specific food or food item, you may find it helpful to switch their food around and find something that works better for them.
3. Poor diet:
Sometimes the cause of dry skin in dogs is due to a poor diet. When your dog is eating a low-quality diet, they may not be receiving the essential vitamins or nutrients that are needed to support a healthy skin and coat. Amino acids, omegas, and oil are an important part of your dog’s diet that helps keep the skin and coat healthy.
You may change your dog’s food to a higher quality or if you are happy with the food that they’re on, there are different supplements you can add to the food to help with their skin and coat. Salmon oil, or fish oil of any kind, is very helpful in doing this. It is rich in omega 3 & 6 which supports skin and coat health.
4. Irritating shampoos or over-bathing:
Dogs should only be bathed with dog shampoo. Using human shampoo, or any shampoo that is not intended for dogs, may be too harsh and can dry out your dog’s skin.
You should also be careful not to bathe your dog too much. Over-bathing your dog can result in the drying out of their skin. Unless recommended by your vet (or your pup finds himself in a dirty situation) a good rule of thumb is to bathe your dog no more than twice a month.
There are many dog shampoos on the market to meet the needs of your four-legged friend. Some are specifically for dry skin while others are ultra-mild for sensitive skin. There are also sprays and conditioning treatments that you can use in between baths to keep your dog clean while keeping their skin and coat moisturized.
5. Cold weather:
In the winter, humans can experience more drying out of the skin than usual. The same goes for dogs. Cold and windy weather has the tendency to dry out the skin. Combine that with the indoor heating systems that also dry out the skin and you get a dog with dry, itchy, unhappy skin. You may notice more itching and flaking as the seasons change.
Switching to a more moisturizing shampoo during the winter months will help. Brushing your dog will help stimulate the oils in the skin to help keep It moisturized. You may also want to add some skin and coat supplements, like fish oil, to their food.
6. Fungal and bacterial infections:
Signs of fungal or bacterial infections include scratching, irritated skin, hot spots, redness, thickening of the skin, hair loss, sores, and scabs. Your dog may get an infection from a minor cut or scrape that they had or from an insect bite.
Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. On top of these treatments, you must also treat the cause of the infection. If your dog has a cut, be sure to keep it clean and help it heal.
7. Thyroid disease:
Another reason your dog may be experiencing dry, itchy skin is thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the dog experiences a lack of essential hormones. This results in a coat that is dull and brittle, excessive shedding, skin thickening and darkening, weight gain, lethargy, behavioral changes, and an intolerance to exercise. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you should take them to get looked at by your vet. They will be able to determine if thyroid disease is the problem and you can begin treatment.
This medical condition can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement drugs.
While these are the most common causes of dry skin in dogs, there may be some other reason your dog is experiencing skin problems. If you are unsure of what’s causing the problem, or if it is not clearing up with your help, feel free to contact your vert with any questions or concerns.