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Is Your Dog Constantly Itching? How to Treat Dry Skin in Dogs?

by Amber LaRock March 17, 2021 5 min read

Veterinarian inspecting dog's dry skin irritation

Our canine friends can fall victim to dry and itchy skin. Flaky skin can not only be frustrating for our furry friends, but for their owners as well. Dry skin can cause discomfort in our pups, leading us to search for any way to ease their troubles. So how can you treat dry skin in your dog?

In this article we will dive into the details of dry skin in dogs, and discuss the ways that you can help your canine friend.

What Causes Dry Skin In Dogs?

Our dogs can experience dry skin due to a number of factors. Ranging from environmental allergies to poor quality diets, a dog’s skin may take the brunt of the damage. To help you better understand your furry friend, let’s list the most common causes of dry skin in dogs below.

Allergies

Allergies are one of the most common causes of dry skin in dogs. Dogs can experience environmental allergies just like you and I, along with the addition of food allergies and contact allergies as well. When a dog is suffering from some type of allergy, their skin is often the first thing that is affected. They may experience irritation, redness, inflammation, and severely dry skin. Not only is this irritating enough, but they can also develop secondary infections from constant scratching.

Some of the most common allergens in dogs include pollen, grass, dander, grain, and fleas. These dogs often require medical intervention to not only prevent allergies going forward, but to relieve their skin of their current irritation. If you think your dog’s dry skin is due to allergies, we suggest contacting your vet for further care.

Excessive Bathing

A dog’s skin produces oil that keeps their coat shiny and hydrated. If these oils are stripped too often with excessive bathing, this can lead to dry skin and dandruff. While we may think our dogs require frequent bathing, that is not often the case. Most dogs only need to be bathed once a month, or even once every few months. As long as you keep up with your dog’s recommended brushing, it should be enough to stay on top of their skin and coat health.

If your dog does happen to get dirty and require a bath, it’s best to use a non-irritating dog approved shampoo. This can include natural shampoos, dog shampoos specifically for dry skin, or a brand approved by your veterinarian.

Poor Quality Diet

A high quality diet can promote canine health in multiple ways. A dog’s diet plays a major role in overall body function, including the health and repair of their skin. If a dog is lacking necessary nutrients in their every day diet, their skin may begin to suffer. An unhealthy diet can lead to dry skin, lackluster appearance of the fur, hair loss, and more. If you think your dog’s diet may be the culprit behind their dry skin, we suggest speaking with your vet about appropriate diet options going forward.

Skin Infections

Skin infections are another issue that can lead to dry skin in our canine friends. While skin infections are often secondary to dry skin and irritation, it can often turn into a cycle that owners struggle to get ahead of. Most skin infections originate from constant scratching, chewing at the skin, licking at the skin, or irritation from fleas. Skin infections will often be accompanied by redness, inflammation, oozing, skin odor, and more.

If you think your dog’s dry skin is due to a skin infection, it’s best to contact your vet for further care. These infections often require antibiotics to heal the area, as well as other supplemental care to speed up their healing time.

Skin Conditions

Just like in humans, dogs can suffer from a list of skin conditions that can affect the appearance of their skin. These skin conditions can range in severity, meaning their symptoms can present as any type of skin irritation or change. These conditions often require veterinary care to manage, and may even require the attention of a veterinary dermatologist.

Symptoms Of Skin Irritation In Dogs

Sometimes it can be challenging to know if your dog has dry skin or not. While it may be obvious in dogs with dark fur, you may not immediately notice in others. To help you better understand when your pup is struggling, let’s discuss the common symptoms of skin irritation below.

  • Dandruff or flaky skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Chewing at the skin
  • Licking at the skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Fur loss
  • Sores on the skin
  • Skin odor

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, we suggest contacting your vet for further care.

How To Treat Dry Skin In Dogs

If your dog is struggling with dry skin, they will often require some type of intervention to offer relief. Though you should always speak with your veterinarian about the best treatment plan, let’s discuss a few of the most successful options.

Controlling Allergies

If your dog’s dry skin is due to allergies, the only way to offer adequate relief is by addressing their current allergy. Treatment options will vary based on what they are allergic to, as allergies can range from environmental to food related.

If your dog is experiencing a flea allergy, you must first eliminate the fleas from their environment to end their constant irritation. Once the fleas have been treated, you can then address their skin irritation.

If your dog is experiencing environmental allergies, you can speak with your vet about long term allergy management. This can involve daily pills, monthly injections, or any other options that your vet recommends. If these options are effective, your dog should find relief.

If your dog is experiencing a food allergy, you may need to jump through a few hoops to get to the source of their discomfort. This may involve elimination diets, offering diets with fewer ingredients, and more.

Medicated Shampoos

Medicated shampoos are a wonderful way to treat dry skin in dogs. These shampoos often include soothing agents for irritated skin, and can hydrate the skin along with offering comfort. There are different medicated shampoos for every condition, catering to issues ranging from fungal infections to standard dry skin. If your dog is suffering from severe dandruff, your vet will often have the perfect shampoo to offer them.

Supplements

Some dogs benefit from the addition of daily supplements when it comes to their dry skin. Omega fatty acids have been known to not only act as a lubricant for the skin, but potentially aid in fighting off allergies. If your dog is struggling with dry skin, they may benefit from the addition of an omega fatty acid supplement.

High Quality Diets

A high quality, balanced diet is key in supporting canine skin health. Low quality diets can cause a lackluster appearance of the coat, along with dry and irritated skin in some cases. Always be sure that you are offering a diet that includes high quality protein from an animal source, fruits and veggies for added nutrients, and even probiotics that help to support skin and gut health.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few ways to treat dry skin in our canine friends. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better help your dog going forward!

Amber LaRock
Amber LaRock

Amber LaRock is a Licensed Vet Tech that took her career online to spread knowledge on animal health and welfare. She graduated from the Cedar Valley Veterinary Technology Program in 2015 with an A.A.S in Veterinary Technology, and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Texas in 2016. Amber began her career in emergency medicine and critical care, and has now been working at an emergency animal hospital for 6 years. With the experience she gained from her time working in emergency medicine, Amber has been able to spread accurate information online in all realms of pet health. If she is not at her laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find her somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that she can find!



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