Dry Skin in Dogs: How You Can Treat it

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Dry Skin In DogsSeeing your dog’s dry skin can be frustrating for both of you — there are various potential causes for this medical condition which can make its diagnosis tricky. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from flaky or itchy skin, you’re in the right place. Here, we discuss the common causes of dry skin, signs of dry skin, and appropriate treatment options for your dog.     

What are the Most Common Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs?  

Your dog’s dry skin may not be such a big problem to you, but it may be an indicator of more serious skin issues. Dry skin is often associated with all kinds of conditions, including parasites and allergies to more serious health problems such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease. 


Much like people, dogs also get allergies from a wide range of sources, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and seasonal allergies, including dust, pollen, grain, animal dander, grass, and even flea saliva. These will often cause dry skin in dogs and when left untreated, they can result in atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that can result in itching, inflammation, redness, and secondary skin infections. An allergic reaction in dogs known as flea allergy dermatitis is a common skin condition triggered by flea saliva

The best way to prevent this from occurring is to keep your pooch at home in a clean environment where fleas can’t thrive. It’s also best if you speak to your veterinarian about the right treatment options for your pup’s allergies.  


Parasites may be another underlying cause behind dry skin in dogs. Dry, flaky skin can sometimes be a sign of mange-causing parasites such as canine scabies, walking dandruff, and Demodex mites, or it may be an indication of lice. Getting an accurate diagnosis of the exact cause of your dog’s dry skin will require a visit to your vet. You might be referred to a specialist in veterinary dermatology if they feel that your pup needs specialist attention.   


Fungal infections and bacterial infections can cause a wide range of skin-related symptoms in our dogs. A veterinarian will be able to diagnose a skin disorder by taking a skin scrape for analysis. These conditions can sometimes be secondary to a bigger problem, which is why it’s important to take dry skin seriously. 

Yeast infections can sometimes be triggered by certain foods such as wheat, corn, or chicken. Other infections such as ringworms can also be transmitted to humans, so it’s best to consult your vet for treatment. 

Systemic Disorders

There might be times when dry skin can be related to more serious conditions — metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism, endocrine diseases, and Cushing’s disease can result in bigger problems. In these cases, your dog’s dry skin may be accompanied by hair loss, brittle and dry hair, skin infections, and other symptoms. Cancer and auto-immune diseases may also result in dry skin which are very serious conditions.

Dry skin should never be taken lightly, so if you notice signs of dry skin on your dog, be sure to see your vet to give your pup a physical examination as soon as possible.     

Breed-Specific Skin Conditions

A few breeds can be more prone to skin conditions compared to others, especially when it comes to dry skin. The Chinese Crested and the Xoloitzcuintli are hairless breeds that are prone to getting scaly skin, while breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Cocker Spaniels can suffer from skin irritation that may to dry skin. Your vet may be able to identify all the possible causes behind your pup’s dry skin.     

Other Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs

There are times when dry skin can be caused by environmental factors such as dry air and cold weather, as well as harsh soaps, nutritional deficiencies, and excessive bathing. Your dog’s skin health and coat health may also take a hit during winter months, so be sure to apply vitamin E oil around cracked or dry skin. If you think that your dog’s dry skin is the result of these causes, then consulting your vet is the best approach to rule out anything serious.  

Symptoms of Dry Skin in Dogs

Unfortunately, skin problems in dogs can present themselves in many different ways, but some of the most associated symptoms of dry skin include the following: 

  • Dandruff
  • Itchiness
  • Pimples
  • Flaking
  • Hair loss
  • Scaling
  • Odor
  • Inflammation
  • Scabs
  • Increased oil on the skin

Some dogs will only get one of the symptoms above while others will come up with many. Be sure to keep your eye on their symptoms so you can detail them to your vet. 

Treating Dry Skin in Dogs

Coming up with a treatment plan for your pup will depend on the cause of your dog’s dry skin, so the first thing to do is to make a diagnosis. While the online world is full of resources on canine health, the best option is to speak to your veterinarian. In some cases, your dog’s dry skin could be tied to a more serious condition; during this time, your vet will have to treat both the underlying condition and the dry skin. 

Testing and treatments for these will vary, but most of the time, they can be managed with medication. However, treating an allergy that results in dry skin in dogs is a tricky business. When it comes to food allergies, your vet may prescribe some kind of elimination diet since there aren’t any reliable diagnostic tests for allergens in your dog’s food. 

Some of the most common allergens found in a dog’s diet include soy, wheat, beef, corn, chicken, eggs, and dairy. While environmental allergies can be determined, there’s no cure available for them. 

The most common ways to treat such allergies include: 

  • Controlling symptoms of the allergy such as dry skin and itching
  • Avoiding the allergens
  • Immunotherapy through options like allergy shots

Some factors such as excessive bathing can be controlled easily — instead of using harsh shampoos, be sure to opt for veterinarian-approved shampoos or draw an oatmeal bath to soothe irritated skin. Reducing how many times your dog bathes can also resolve dry skin, so long as this is the reason behind it. Some pet owners will use skin moisturizers such as aloe vera and coconut oil can help with irritated skin. 

Switching your dog over to high-quality food will provide your dog with the necessary nutrients it needs for healthy skin and a healthy coat. Speak to your vet to get recommendations on the right nutrition and supplements to give your pooch. 

Preventing Dry Skin in Dogs

While some dogs will be more vulnerable to dry skin compared to others, there are things you can do to help keep dry skin away from your furry friend. 

  • Feeding your pooch high quality food and a balanced diet
  • Keeping up-to-date on your dog’s preventatives to prevent parasites
  • Grooming your dog regularly to avoid debris and dirt from accumulating
  • Providing supplements prescribed by your vet
  • Keeping folds and wrinkles clean in certain breeds
  • Scheduling regular vet checkups to keep an eye on your dog’s health


There are many different reasons why your dog may suffer from dry skin; it’s a good idea to speak to your vet to find out the best course of action to treat your pup’s skin problem. However, there are also home remedies you can try, such as including essential fatty acids in your dog’s diet, adding fish oil to your dog’s meals, and more. Doing research on your breed to determine the possible skin conditions it’s predisposed to can help give your dog a healthy life.