Wouldn't it be great if there was a cheap, drug-free way to improve your dog's flaky, dry skin?
Perhaps there is!
Dog skin is relatively unsophisticated and is less resilient than the human equivalent. Skin is designed as flexible, protective armor that keeps bad stuff out and good stuff in. Whereas people have a protective dermal layer that is 10 to 15 cell layers deep, for dogs it's only 3 to 5 layers thick. This means dog skin is surprisingly sensitive and prone to drying, infection, and traumatic damage.
Imagine a harsh winter with freezing winds outside, yet a warm centrally heated space indoors. This puts a dog's skin through its paces and is liable to result in dryness and scaling. What's to be done? Actually, it's easier than you might suppose to improve the resilience of your dog's skin, plus it doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Conditioning From the Inside Out
Dry flaky skin is just that - dry and flaky. When cells lack moisture they shrivel and shrink, peeling away from the layers beneath and sloughing off as dandruff or skin flakes. The opposite are plump, well-hydrated skin cells which stick together better.
Add a little extra virgin olive oil to your dog's food will nourish the skin germ cells at the deepest level. As those baby cells mature and travel to the surface, they take their plump healthy condition with them, making the skin barrier more resilient as a result.
Around one teaspoon of olive oil for a 30 to 40 lb dog, mixed in food once a day should do the trick. But don't expect instant results. You have to wait for those germ cells to mature and reach the skin's surface before you see a difference. So be prepared to wait 3 to 4 weeks for that new glossy coat to shine through
Olive Oil Rinses
Apply olive oil to the skin can also be beneficial, just don't be heavy handed! Avoid neat olive oil, as this just makes the skin greasy and could provide a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
Instead, add around 5 drops of olive oil to a cup of water and work this into your dog's skin and coat. You can do this on a daily basis and if the coat gets a little sticky, blot the excess oil away with paper towel.
A word of caution. Vets advise against applying olive oil directly to broken skin. Olive oil has natural anti inflammatory properties which could delay the healing of wounds and sores.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
As with most things in life, moderation is good. Olive oil is calorific, so keep an eye on your pet's waistline and cut back if he's gaining weight. Also, adding oil to food is not recommended if your pet suffers from pancreatitis. Indeed, you should always check with your vet first before giving a supplement, especially if your dog has a health problem.
And last but not least, be aware oils have the potential to absorb fat soluble vitamins and causes deficiencies. To counteract this, make sure your dog's diet is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E, by giving goodies such as fresh fruit and veg, plus fish.