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Dry skin on dogs: Causes and symptoms

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As pet parents, we should be very worried about dry skin on dogs. This disease is very common in dogs. Learn how to treat it easily 

By Daniel Mar

Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:29

Dogs can easily get dry flaky skin and scabs for at least once in their lifetime. Evidently, this is a problem that should concern every dog owner. If you think that your dog is showing some skin problems, try to get a veterinarian to take a look at it. You might not know it but your pet could have dry skin. Even though this is not a serious disease, it can be quite uncomfortable for dogs.

What causes dry skin on dogs?

At first, flaky skin on dogs is not a big problem. However, if it is not properly diagnosed, it can lead to a much bigger issue. Likewise, according to Dr Mike Paul, DVM, "When your dog has dry skin, it’s not only unsightly, but it may indicate an underlying disease. There may be many different possible causes, which are often treatable". Here you have a list of the most common ones:

  1. Allergies: dogs get allergies. Food, environmental or seasonal allergies affect dogs. If these are not treated, they can result in another skin condition called atopic dermatitis. This disease causes dry skin, excessive itching, inflammation and other skin infections.
  2. Parasites: pests are another cause of dry skin on dogs. Dog flaky skin can be a sign of parasites that cause mange. The most common parasites are the Demodex mite, canine scabies, Walking Dandruff and lice.
  3. Infections: many types of infections can cause a wide variety of skin problems in dogs. The most common ones are bacterial and fungal infections. These are not deathly but they can cause dry skin. If not treated, they can lead to larger problems.
  4. Systemic disorder: the two main metabolic disorders linked to dry skin are Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. If your dog is affected by any of these, he/she will have brittle hair, hair loss and dry skin. Also, "Diseases such as Lupus and Pemphigus that arise from an abnormal immune response may result in abnormalities of the skin", said Dr Paul.
  5. Poor diet: low-quality diet can lead to a lack of essential nutrients in your dog's body. Whenever nutrients are lacking, your dog will show signs of itching, redness and flaking.
  6. Irritating shampoo: most pet owners should know that dogs can only be bathed with canine shampoos. Human shampoos can (and will) dry out and possibly irritate your dog’s skin.
  7. Cold weather: cold weather can be quite harmful to dogs that are not equipped to deal with it. Indoor heating systems might look like a good way to help your dog cope with the cold but it can also be detrimental.

Symptoms of dry skin on dogs

Dog flaky skin doesn't look the same in every dog. However, there is a wide list of symptoms associated with dry skin on dogs:

  1. Scabs
  2. Oily skin
  3. Bad odour
  4. Hair loss
  5. Redness
  6. Inflammation
  7. Scaling
  8. Itching
  9. Flaking
  10. Pimples
  11. Dandruff
  12. Sores
  13. Paw chewing
  14. Skin darkening

Treatment for dry skin on dogs

Dry skin can be a minor ailment in dogs. As you can see in the video, it can be treated with home remedies. However, sometimes your dog will need stronger treatments. Furthermore, go to the vet to know the exact treatment that your dog needs.

If the dry skin on your dog turned out to be a minor problem, you can treat your dog with:

  • Vitamin E oil: it is a powerful antioxidant. It can also be used to moisturize your dog’s dry skin. Just apply the Vitamin E oil on your dog’s coat. You should not worry about your pet licking off the oil.
  • Yoghurt for dogs: if your dog is affected by bacteria, the live probiotic organisms in yoghurt can help to keep in balance the bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract.
  • Oatmeal: “Oatmeal contains chemicals called avenanthramides and phenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties”, said Judy Morgan. Pets with skin allergies and infections will get immediate relief from oatmeal.
  • Control the diet: if the dry skin was a result of a poor diet, just modify it with high-quality ingredients to boost up the immune system and the absorption of nutrients.
  • Avoid food allergies: dogs tend to be allergic to beef, corn, wheat, eggs, dairy and soy. If your dog proves to be allergic, just eliminate these elements from the diet. Vets will immediately test for allergies. "Your veterinarian might also suggest diagnostics or food trials to help rule out allergies", said Dr Paul.

If the dry skin on your dog is a result of a more serious disease like Cushing’s syndrome, your vet will prescribe some strong medication to treat the symptoms.

As a pet parent, you can work on preventing dry skin on dogs. Even though some breeds are more prone to dry skin than others, a year-round care is essential. Likewise, try to keep a high-quality, balanced diet. Also, groom your dog on regular basis. Lastly, schedule regular visits to the veterinarian.