How to Condition a Dog's Dry Skin

Medium
5 - 10 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Dry skin in dogs can have a number of causes; medical conditions such as metabolic or hormone imbalances, allergies, and parasitic, bacterial or yeast infections can all cause or contribute to dry skin. Poor grooming, lack of grooming, under bathing, or overbathing with detergents and soaps that dry skin can also be factors, and environmental conditions such as exposure to heat and low humidity can cause dry skin in your dog, much the same as it does in humans.

Conditioning your dog's dry skin can provide relief, however, addressing underlying causes is also recommended to keep your dog's skin in good shape. Dry skin can become more easily damaged from itching or interference, or subject to infection with bacteria and yeast, so counteracting it is important for your dog’s health.  There are a number of things you can do to condition your dog's dry skin.

Dog's Perspective

If you notice your dog constantly scratching, licking or chewing at his skin, dry itchy skin could be the issue. When we humans suffer from dry skin we apply moisturizer over our smooth, hairless skin. Easy, right? However, that is not always quite as practical for your fur or hair-covered dog. Your dog takes measure to groom himself, hopefully, licking off dirt and debris and spreading body oils with his tongue. That should help prevent dry skin, but sometimes he may need some help. Taking steps to help with grooming and applying topical conditioning to alleviate dry skin can make your dog more comfortable.

The Routine Grooming Method

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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Pin Brush
Comb
Towel
Step
1
Brush regularly
Brush your dog daily to remove debris and prevent mats and tangles that can contribute to dry skin by restricting air flow to skin. Brushing also helps to distribute your dogs natural doggy oils.
Step
2
Massage
Massage your dog with a rubber glove to further distribute body oils and increase blood flow to skin and provide nutrients to skin tissues.
Step
3
Bathe regularily
Bath your dog regularly, 1-2 times a month, and not more than 1-2 times per week, to prevent over or under bathing. Buildups of oil and dirt can cause dry skin, as can excessive exposure to water and soap.
Step
4
Use moisturizing bath products
When you bathe your dog, use a moisturizing dog-safe shampoo. Rinse well to remove residual buildup and apply a moisturizing conditioner available at your local pet supply store. Do not use human shampoo and conditioner.
Step
5
Air dry
Do not use a blow dryer to dry your dog, instead pat dry with a towel, and put your dog in a warm, dry location to air dry or use fans to dry your dog.
Recommend grooming method?

The Special Conditioning Method

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Shampoo
Step
1
Oatmeal shampoo
Use a shampoo and conditioner containing colloidal oatmeal. Certain essential oils can be added to shampoo to combat dry skin.
Step
2
Rinse with vinegar
Rinse your dog with apple cider vinegar. Mix vinegar 50/50 with water.
Step
3
Apply coconut oil
Apply coconut oil to your dog's skin. Melt coconut oil until it is in liquid form--make sure it is not too hot, just warm. Rub the oil on your dog's hair and use a brush to distribute it through his coat.
Step
4
Moisturize nose and paws
Apply commercial moisturizers to your dog's nose and paws. Products made with natural materials are available at pet supply stores or you can apply coconut or olive oil directly to paws and dry skin on your dog's nose.
Step
5
Make changes
Discuss nutrition and environmental changes with your vet. Making some adjustments could relieve and prevent your dog's dry skin, such as diet changes, increasing humidity in your home or avoiding possible allergens.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If your dog is suffering from dry skin, try to determine if a medical condition such as an allergy or infection, dietary factor or environmental factor plays a part and address these issues.
  • Test moisturizing products such as lotions, shampoos, and conditioners on your dog’s skin prior to applying over your dog's body to ensure that adverse reactions don't occur.
  • Make sure that essential oils being applied to your dog topically are not ingested and that they are non-toxic to dogs so that absorption through the skin does not make your dog ill.  Several plant essential oils are safe for humans but are not appropriate for dogs, as they do not have liver enzymes to metabolize the substances.

Conclusion

We are all familiar with dry, itchy skin, especially those of us that live in a dry climate, whether it is cold and dry or hot and dry. Your dog is not immune to dry skin just because he is covered in hair. In fact, this just makes it harder to treat his dry skin, as his hair forms a natural barrier when applying moisturizer and conditioner.  

Investigate causes of dry skin and address issues. Regular grooming and appropriate bathing with moisturizing shampoos can help alleviate Fido's dry skin. Dietary supplements and humidifiers can help mitigate medical conditions and environmental factors. Several natural moisturizers can be used on your dog's dry skin and especially on exposed skin on the nose and paw pads, including coconut oil and olive oil. 

There is no need for your dog to suffer from dry skin. Even a trip to your kitchen cupboard can help; oatmeal, vinegar, and oils can all be used to bring relief to your itchy pooch.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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