Skip to main content

Tips and Remedies to Soothe Itchy or Dry Skin in Dogs

Laura is an avid pet lover. An advocate for pet adoption and senior pets, she has multiple cats and a sweet old poodle mix.

Some dog breeds are prone to dry skin that can make them feel miserable. Luckily, there are things you can do to help.

Some dog breeds are prone to dry skin that can make them feel miserable. Luckily, there are things you can do to help.

So, Your Dog Is Itchy

As the seasons change and the drier, cooler air sets in, dry skin becomes a problem. But people are not the only ones that need relief from the itchiness and tightness of dry skin—some dogs face the problem.

Dry skin may make them feel itchy and miserable. Some dogs are prone to dry skin year-round, while others only face it when it is colder outside.

If your dog struggles with dry skin, there are some ways that you can help it get relief and clear up the itching and flakes associated with the condition.

Why Do Dogs Get Dry Skin?

According to the ASPCA, any dog can be susceptible to dry skin and other skin problems. Your dog can also develop them at any stage during its life. Some factors that may contribute to dog skin issues include:

  • allergies
  • age
  • other illness
  • seasonal changes

If your pup has small white flakes that are visible on its fur or in its brush and it seems to be scratching, then it may be time to treat its dry skin.

Why Does Cold Weather Dry Out Your Dog's Skin?

Just like humans, dogs' skin will dry out in the winter. But why is that? There are a couple of reasons that skin dries out in the winter.

  1. First, cold air is usually drier. Less humidity means that when you go outside, the moisture from your skin is zapped into the atmosphere, drying it out.
  2. The cooler temperatures also tend to irritate and chap the skin, leading to the drying and cracking that many people and pets suffer during the winter.

How to Give Your Dog Relief From Dry Skin

When we get dry skin, we can simply use a good lotion to keep our skin feeling better and help it heal from being dry and chapped. But most dogs have fur which makes putting on lotion a bad option for them.

In this case, you will need to rely on other products to moisturize the dog's skin. Below, I've outlined some of the best ways to help your dog's dry skin.

Best Ways to Help Your Dog's Dry Skin

What to UseWhy

Quality Food for Skin and Coat

Some foods contain extra fats and vitamins that help the dogs body produce oils to help its skin.

Moisturizing Pet Shampoos and Conditioners

Using quality, moisturizing shampoos will give your dog immediate, topical relief of its itchy skin.

Good Brush

Using a good brush will help to naturally stimulate the dogs skin and help spread natural oils.

Supplements with Fatty Acids and Oils

Sometimes extra vitamins and fat supplements will allow your dog to produce more oil on their skin.

Food and Supplements

Sometimes a switch to higher quality food may help your dog's dry skin. There are certain, essential fatty acids that your dog needs in order to maintain healthy skin and coat. You can also add an over-the-counter supplement if the food alone is not giving your dog the relief that he needs.

When you are looking for pet foods, look for foods that promote a healthy coat and skin. Science Diet makes one that contains extra fatty acids to help address common dog skin problems such as dry skin.

Shampoos and Brushes

A great way to give your dog immediate relief is to purchase a good dog shampoo that is moisturizing. Look for natural ingredients such as oatmeal which can soothe irritated skin. Be sure to buy the matching conditioner as all shampoos, even moisturizing ones, can still cause your dog's skin to dry out. Use plenty of shampoo and conditioner according to the label directions.

If you blow-dry your dog, make sure the heat is not too high as this can lead right back to dry skin once again.

Once your dog is dry, you should brush its fur. This not only removes tangles and makes them look nice, but it also helps to stimulate the natural oils in its skin.

From there, daily brushings will help to keep your dog's skin and fur shiny, healthy, and less dry. You may also want to avoid prolonged exposure to the cold and to the winds which can chap its skin.

Natural Remedies

While you should be careful not to use human products on dogs, some people have had great success with natural remedies such as olive oil or coconut oil. Both of these products are safe for dogs even if the dog licks itself and ingests some.

The downside of the oils is that they will make the dog's skin and fur oily, which can lead to a mess if the dog is inside the house. This is a better option if your dog is an outdoor dog.

Other Ways to Soothe Your Dog's Dry Skin

Another way you can help protect your dog and prevent dry skin is to let them wear a coat or sweater outside. While dog outfits are cute, they can actually serve a purpose too. A sweater or coat for your dog will cut down on his or her exposure to the elements outside when you take them out.

Make sure the coat covers the neck and belly area, as these two areas usually have thinner fur and may be more susceptible to chapping and dry skin. Dog coats and sweaters are especially nice if your dog will be outside for a prolonged amount of time.

Remember: It's Important to Treat Dry Skin

Just like in people, dry skin in dogs can make them feel bad. It is important to treat it as a serious condition to prevent other problems. Sometimes the dry skin will make the dog itch so much that they will scratch it into an open wound which may then get infected.

If your dog suffers from dry skin, try changing its food, using moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and brushing it daily. You should see a change in its condition and enjoy a happy and flake-free pet.

Natural Remedies for Dry Skin in Dogs

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2013 L C David


L C David (author) from Florida on October 25, 2013:

Oh wow! My dog is part chow as well. He's 15 and has had skin problems his whole life depending on the season. I have found he is actually doing better since I switched him to a Blue brand limited diet. This really helped his coat and skin which could be very dry.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on October 25, 2013:


Bella is part chow. It is long fur. She is allergic to everything it seems. I changed her food, which is better now. I really don't recall how I learned of Avon Skin-So-Soft, but it helps. It is also sold in pet stores now.

L C David (author) from Florida on October 25, 2013:

Yes allergies can produce flaky skin and itching. The shampoos might give her some relief but ultimately avoiding the allergy trigger or allergy meds will help alleviate the condition. My dog has seasonal allergies and he gets some relief with the medicated dog shampoo and Benadryl.

Barbara Badder from USA on October 25, 2013:

I need to try these ideas on our Brittany. Even though they have the same diet, our other dog doesn't have these problems. I think the Brittany has allergies though.

L C David (author) from Florida on October 24, 2013:

Interesting. Does she have short or long fur?

wetnosedogs from Alabama on October 24, 2013:

I found hubs like this interesting since my oldest female has dry skin. I use diluted Avon-Skin-So-Soft on her.