Dogs Dry Skin – What Is It & How To Treat This Skin Disorder

By Michael Tarran

August 9, 2021

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When you own a dog, you have to be prepared for everything that befalls you. On that note, be mindful of the fact that you’ll need to devote your attention to the health of your pet, too.

Today, we’ll look at how health is reflected in your dog's skin condition.

What do you do when you realize that your pet has dry skin? And is the dog’s dry skin something you should worry about?

Continue reading if you want to be fully updated on this not-so-minor health issue!

Dog's Dry Skin - Explained

my dog has dry skin

A dog's skin is very sensitive to external influences - and therefore susceptible to many diseases. The "good" news is that a problem like this is usually easily recognizable.

If you take a closer look, you will notice that your pet's fur coat is not in ideal condition. Plus, you will recognize a series of other symptoms that I'll mention in a bit.

While this is just a current issue for some dogs, it is a sign of something much more serious, like a chronic disease, for others. Therefore, it's important to fully address dry skin on dogs in time.

The thing that should be clarified first is what exactly triggers this problem on the surface of your dog's coat and what you should look out for when checking your pup's skin.

Dry Skin vs. Fleas - Know The Difference

If you were wondering, "Does my dog have dry skin or fleas," there's a simple way to tell the difference between the two skin conditions:

When you check the coat of your pet, fleas will still be alive and moving around when you touch the surface, while dry skin is full of dead skin cells. Dogs with fleas will continually scratch and bite their coat, too.

What Causes Dry Dog Skin?

Allergies

Environmental or seasonal allergies - including pollen, grass, and mold - are often the most common cause of dry skin on dogs. But it could be food allergies, for all you know.

Either way, the more sensitive your pet's coat is, the worse this skin condition will get. And until you determine with certainty the cause of the allergy that's affecting your pet's coat, you won't be able to treat dry skin properly.

Check out this article on what does dog allergy look like. I’m certain that it will help you out here.

External Parasites

As a pet owner, you are aware of how much your dog loves spending time running around the park and rolling in the grass. Mind you, not every lawn is safe for or meets the needs of your pet.

Many park lawns are not adequately mowed, and this doubles the chance of your dog being bitten by a parasite.

These pests might be miniature - but they can cause enormous damage in most dogs.

Canine Scabies - Being Alert

In addition to dry dog skin, canine scabies is one of the oldest skin disorders known to us and is caused by the superficial burrowing mite. The real danger of this is that it is contagious.

Areas which this disease affects are:

  • Earflaps  
  • Elbows 
  • Chest 
  • Genitals 
  • Abdomen 
  • Hocks

Poor Nutrition

Dog's dry skin does not have to be the result of external sources. Sometimes, it can come from within - a dog’s diet. Pay close attention when choosing your dog's food. There are many choices, but there are only a number of trusted and quality pet food brands.

Nutritional deficiencies are the root of many underlying problems!

Low Humidity

Environmental conditions have a huge impact, and this is evidenced by the fact that low humidity can have a bad effect on your dog's skin. In essence, places that have very dry air contribute to flaky and itchy skin.

Low-moisture food can have a similar effect.

Excessive bathing can lead to sensitive and dry skin, too, because it strips away the necessary oils.

Severe Infections

If you skipped a vet appointment or two, or haven’t fully committed to healing your dog's wounds, severe skin infections are possible. They are sometimes directly linked to dry skin.

You may also notice hair loss, especially if the dog breed you have is known for its thick coat.

Remember, your pet's skin must be nourished at all times!

Bacterial And Fungal Infections As Leading Causes

Bacterial and fungal infections have the greatest potential to dry out your dog’s skin and leave long-lasting consequences. 

The symptoms are visible to the naked eye and should be treated as soon as you notice them.

Now, the treatment depends on the severity of the case. Nonetheless, your dog should be isolated. 

Whether the root of the problem lies in an allergic or infectious cause, don’t waste any time. Contact your vet and have it checked out!

Atopic And Contact Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition that primarily occurs due to genetic factors. Also, it will likely appear in the form of occasional flare-ups.

On the other hand, contact dermatitis is a skin disorder caused by external factors that trigger a reaction - household supplies, perfumes, floor cleaners, and detergents, for example. It can even be something straight from the pet store.

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Dry Skin: What Are The Symptoms?

dog at the grooming salon

If you’re worried that your dog might have dry skin, you should look for the following symptoms:

  • Excessive itching
  • Constantly rolling around
  • Aggressive scratching and biting its skin (a parasitic infection)
  • Multiple pimples and sores caused by scratching, autoimmune disorders, or a yeast infection
  • Excessive hair loss, poor condition of the coat, missing fur
  • Scaly skin
  • Flaky skin
  • General lack in coat and skin condition
  • Inflammation and red areas
  • Increased oiliness (in some dog breeds)
  • Change in odor, unpleasant smell
  • Ear infections

These were some of the most noticeable red flags when it comes to your pet's health. If you’re interested in some other symptoms that might not be on this list, you can always contact your veterinarian for additional tips on dog care.

Extra Tip:

Don’t be surprised if your puppy starts showing some of the following symptoms. Puppy dry skin is very common in certain dog breeds.

How Is Dry Skin Diagnosed In Dogs?

vet examining a dog

Image Source: Flickr

Although many people are convinced that they can find a proper diagnosis online, this is not recommended. To avoid unwanted side effects, my advice is to go straight to the vet.

The diagnosis is generally determined by a full physical examination. Extra attention is paid to visible insect bites and severe bacterial or other infections, such as a fungal infection. 

After this, your dog may be tested for allergies. Getting your dog used to a nutritionally balanced diet can help avoid certain skin conditions. That means, among other things, that your dog's meals must contain a lot of protein and essential fatty acids.

Dry Skin In Dogs: Treatment Methods

vet examining a dog

Image Source: Flickr

There are a couple of ways you can treat dry skin on dogs.

Administering Medication

If it has been a long time since your dog was diagnosed with dry skin and there are no improvements, medication will need to be included. Topical ointments, such as antimicrobials, medicated sprays, and shampoos, for example, could do wonders.

It is crucial not to use these on your own, though. The vet will give you the exact schedule and amount you need.

Diet Change

If food allergies are responsible for your dog's skin problems, the solution is simple. All you need to do is modify your dog's diet and include protein-based dog food in it.

Home Remedies & Precautions: Can You Avoid Dry Skin?

If you follow these rules, you can reduce the risk of dry skin on dogs and help your pup maintain healthy skin and coat.

  • Include foods that are rich in fish oil in their diet.
  • Avoid feeding them dry food constantly; add a little moist food to their diet.
  • Get your dog groomed regularly.
  • Take your dog to the vet for regular checkups.
  • Use effective prescription medications.
  • Use a cool blow dryer setting when you blow-dry your dog's coat.
  • Pay attention to the nutritional label on the feed packaging in pet stores.
  • Avoid using human shampoo when bathing your dog.
  • Try not to spend too much time in spaces with dry air.

Final Thoughts

Dry skin on dogs is an underlying condition and can leave long-lasting and painful consequences. That's why it is important to visit the vet regularly and use only proven products that promote a healthy coat.

If you have any doubts regarding your dog's dry skin - what it looks like or what caused it, for example - check with your vet!

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Michael Tarran

About Me

I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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