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  • Writer's pictureBear & Kind

Does Your Pupper Have Dry Skin?

Just like humans, the largest organ in your dog’s body is the skin. In a healthy dog it will be smooth and clear, and the coat soft with a healthy shine. It can also be a sign of health issues lurking beneath the surface. Skin issues are among the top reasons pet owners visit the vet. From redness and flaky skin to obsessive scratching and biting… there are a number of ways your dog will let you know they have dry skin. Determining the cause however, can be a little trickier.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Dry Skin?

Is your dog scratching or biting himself? Is he licking obsessively? Does he have dandruff or flaky skin? Is the skin cracked or rough to touch? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your dog probably has dry skin.

What Causes Dry Skin?

  • Fleas and seasonal allergies. Contact allergies such as grass are a common cause of dry skin.

  • Food allergies or diet deficiencies. Low omega-3 fatty acids, inadequate protein or insufficient fat in the diet can cause dry skin and a dull coat. Mineral deficiencies such as zinc and copper can lead to hair loss and cracked skin.

  • Parasitic, bacterial or yeast infections often cause flaky skin that persists.

  • Health conditions such as hormone or metabolic imbalances can lead to persistent flaky skin, hair thinning and a dull coat.

  • Cold weather or excessive heating in your home can cause dry skin and a dull coat.

  • Excessive bathing or washing with products that irritate the skin.

  • Stress or boredom can also lead to imbalances within the body and repetitive behaviour such as excessive licking or biting, which can result in skin issues.

What Can I Do?

If your dog is demonstrating any of the abovementioned symptoms or behaviours, and is not showing improvement, please don't wait. While the tips below will offer short term relief at home, if the problem is persistent, talk to your vet. Dry, itchy skin in itself can range from uncomfortable to downright painful, and will make your dog utterly miserable. But if it happens that your dog has an underlying health issue causing it, the consequences of not seeking medical advice could be serious. If in doubt at all, always seek veterinary advice.

That being said, there are a number of things you can do at home to treat and prevent dry skin. Feeding a high quality, nutrient rich diet is the key to overall health and vitality including healthy skin and coat. Avoid highly processed foods such as dry or tinned food wherever possible. Fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and raw bones are more expensive but will prolong your dog’s life and reduce vet visits in the long run. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important as obesity can lead to a number of skin conditions caused by chronic inflammation.

Adding Omega 3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet is not only important for general health but also very effective in the prevention of dry skin. Fatty fish including salmon, mackerel and sardines are an excellent source of Omega 3. Alternatively you can add a good quality fish oil supplement to your dog's food.

Regular grooming is essential not only to avoid tangles but to remove dead skin cells and distribute the skin’s natural oils throughout the coat. Always part the coat in sections to expose the scalp and check for dandruff, redness and signs of fleas or other creepy crawlies during grooming sessions. Regular brushing also helps to aerate the coat and release dirt and debris that can cause odours, reducing the need for baths. Only bathe your dog if he absolutely needs it and as a general guide, no more than monthly. The combination of water and the irritants commonly found in commercial pet shampoos can be drying to the skin. Always look for a products with natural ingredients that are listed in full, and avoid anything containing sulphates, parabens, petrochemicals, and artificial perfumes, colours and preservatives. Alternatively, try using a natural dry shampoo in between baths to keep him smelling fresh.

Keeping your dog warm in cold weather is important, especially for older dogs, but too much time napping in front of the heater can significantly dry out the air inside your home, and your dog’s skin. Always leave a bowl of water nearby heaters while they are in use or use a humidifier if the air becomes too dry. Using a humidifier in summer can also be a help in hot and dry weather.

Bathing with an oatmeal shampoo can really help to soothe dry, itchy skin and assist healing. Our There There Pet Soothing Shampoo Bar range comes in a shampoo bar and a balm, and contain a nourishing blend of organic shea butter, hemp seed oil, olive and coconut oils to soften and soothe skin. We also added calendula, carrot and oatmeal specifically for sensitive, irritated skin to reduce itching and help the skin to heal.

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