Dry skin can be as uncomfortable for dogs as it is for people. The outermost layer of skin, called the epidermis, creates new skin cells and retains moisture in healthy dogs but when dry, cracked, and flaky, it creates irritation, dander, hair loss, scabs, bumps, itching, and scratching. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat conditions that require medical attention, but if your dog is otherwise healthy, you can improve her dry skin and coat with simple home remedies. Frequent brushing will help, too, by distributing the natural oils in your dog’s coat.
Causes of dry skin in dogs
Dry skin in dogs can be caused by:
- Allergies, sensitivities, or contact dermatitis
- Drying soaps or shampoos
- Failing to adequately rinse out soaps or shampoo
- Baths that are too frequent or too hot
- Dry weather or low humidity
- External parasites like fleas or mites
- Autoimmune disorders
- Underlying illnesses like Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism
If the following remedies for your dog’s dry skin fail to bring her relief, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying health issue contributing to the problem.
What can I put on my dog for dry skin?
Oatmeal and aloe vera are proven skin protectors that help form a protective barrier that slows the loss of natural oils from your dog’s coat while soothing itchy, irritated, flaking skin.
Make your own oatmeal bath
- Place 1/2 to 1 cup of plain, unflavored oatmeal (instant, quick, or slow-cooking) in a blender, coffee grinder, or food processor.
- Process on the highest setting until the oats form a very fine powder.
- Pour the oat powder into warm (not hot) running water in your tub. Fill the tub to a comfortable level for your dog.
- Place your dog in the tub and use a cup to pour the oatmeal bath over his body.
- Massage the bath water into the dog’s skin and if possible, keep him soaking for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse your dog well with warm (not hot) water, then dry well with towels and gently brush the coat.
Apply aloe vera
- Pure aloe vera juice or gel (one made with aloe vera alone, without additives) is an economical skin treatment for your dog. Simply apply, work it into the skin, and let dry.
Rinse or spray your dog with an herbal tea
- Place 6 teabags or 6 teaspoons of dried herbs (chamomile, calendula, or green tea) in a 1-quart glass jar.
- Fill the jar with boiling water and close the lid.
- Let stand until it cools to room temperature. This tea will stay fresh in your refrigerator for a week.
- Strain and use as a final rinse after bathing or spray onto your dog’s wet or dry coat, working It in well so it reaches the skin.
- Let the coat air dry, then gently brush your dog.
Is coconut oil good for my dog’s skin?
Yes, and it can be applied topically (massaged into the skin) or added to food. Apply by working 1/2 teaspoon at a time into your dog’s skin, head to tail, and brush well.
To feed coconut oil, start with small amounts and gradually increase to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds (1 tablespoon per 30 pounds) of body weight daily.