Similar to the discomfort it can cause to humans, dry, flaky skin can be a big problem for our pups. It’s a surprisingly common issue that canines cope with and can happen for a variety of different reasons.
If your dog is scratching more frequently than usual, it’s important to get to the root cause in order to treat the problem. Here are a few of the most common factors that can lead to dry skin:
Fleas and Parasites
A parasite bite can cause dry skin if your dog has a reaction to the parasite’s saliva and starts scratching excessively. Fleas tend to focus on the back and tail area. If mites are the source, you’ll notice dandruff and flaky skin. The skin disease mange, which stems from mites, can cause hair loss and sores. Anti-parasite shampoo, dips and spot products can help remove the offensive critter and provide relief for your dog. Often times, it takes a trip to the vet to diagnose these issues. The vet should also start your dog on preventative treatments to avoid future problems.
Dogs may experience environmental, seasonal and food allergies that can all result in dry, irritated skin. Some of the most common allergies are flea saliva, pollen, smoke, dust, mold and grain intolerances. Once you identify the allergy-producing offender, the obvious course of action is to eliminate it in your dog’s environment or diet as much as possible. A vet can prescribe treatment to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms.
Just like winter causes dry skin in humans, the cold can induce the same issues for your dog. The problem can be exacerbated by the drying effect of indoor heat. If your dog has seasonal skin irritation, you’ll notice flaking skin and itching increase as the mercury-level drops. To help your pup, limit his exposure to the elements and use a moisture-rich shampoo. Adding a product like tea tree oil or Vitamin E to your dog’s coat and brushing him more consistently can also help.
Bacterial and fungal infections can cause a variety of skin conditions, including dry skin. Your vet will likely take some skin scrapes to determine the root cause. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medications and antibiotics are used for bacterial infections.
An under-functioning thyroid gland can cause your dog’s skin to be dry and flaky because his hormone levels are off-balance. You might notice his coat is dull or see excessive shedding. A vet must diagnosis this issue, and if your pup has hypothyroidism, he will be treated with thyroid replacement drugs.
Breed Specific Issues
Some types of dogs are more prone to skin issues. Hairless breeds tend to have a variety of skin issues, including dry skin, and Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes have a susceptibility to zinc-responsive dermatosis.
Following some of these simple steps can help keep dry skin at bay:
- Feed your dog a high-quality balanced diet
- Use flea prevention products
- Keep up to date on parasite prevention
- Groom your dog more frequently
- Keep facial folds clean in breeds with them
- Don’t keep your dog out in the cold for extended periods of time
- Regularly visit your vet