Dry Skin in Dogs: Tips and Cures

Updated on August 5, 2016
Some dog breeds are prone to dry skin that can make them feel miserable.
Some dog breeds are prone to dry skin that can make them feel miserable. | Source

As the seasons change and 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 also face the problem of dry skin.

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

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

What Kind of Dogs Develop 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 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.

First, the 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.

The cooler temperatures also tend to irritate and chap the skin, also leading to the drying and cracking that many people and pets suffer during the winter.

Any type of dog can develop skin problems.
Any type of dog can develop skin problems. | Source

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 that makes putting on lotion not really a good option for them.

In this case you will need to rely on other products to moisturize the dog's skin.

Some of the best ways to help your dogs dry skin include:

Best Ways to Help Your Dog's Dry Skin

What To Use
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 a 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 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 it look nice, 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 it 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 Help Your Dog

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 server a purpose. 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.

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

Questions & Answers


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      • LCDWriter profile image

        L C David 4 years ago from Florida

        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 profile image

        wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama


        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.

      • LCDWriter profile image

        L C David 4 years ago from Florida

        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 Kay profile image

        Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

        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.

      • LCDWriter profile image

        L C David 4 years ago from Florida

        Interesting. Does she have short or long fur?

      • wetnosedogs profile image

        wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

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