Dry Skin On Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Dry and irritated skin is a common issue among dogs, and those whose pooches have experienced this discomfort, are often left wondering where their dog picked up dry skin.

The examples of a dry skin condition in dogs typically include skin sores and dry flaky skin. Well, the causes vary, and they include allergic reactions, an imbalanced diet, excessive bathing, bacterial or fungal infections, and medical issues such as cancer and hypothyroidism.

Dry skin in itself isn’t a life-threatening medical condition, but if left untreated, can cause great discomfort to a pooch. And to prevent this from happening, this article details various treatment methods for dry skin on dogs, as well as the various symptoms of canine dry skin. However, before we delve into all of this, let’s have a detailed look at the causes of dry skin on dogs.

What Are The Causes Of Dry Skin On Dogs?

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Common causes of dry skins on dogs include allergic reactions, feeding the pooch an imbalanced diet, an underlying medical condition, the presence of parasites, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.


Dogs are allergic to a wide variety of substances. And one of the signs that your pooch is suffering an allergic reaction – be it environmental or food-related – is an issue, such as dryness, with the dog’s skin.

Feeding An Imbalanced Diet

One of the keys to maintaining the polished appearance of a dog’s skin is by feeding the pooch with balanced, high-quality dog food. And when a pooch’s meals are lacking in nutrients needed to promote a healthy skin appearance, such a dog is bound to develop dry skin, among other issues.

Underlying Medical Conditions

While dry skin in itself is a mild condition, there are times when your dog’s flaky skin can be an indicator of a more serious medical condition needing specialized treatment.

Medical conditions such as cancer typically cause dogs to have dry skin. And metabolic disorders, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, are also known to cause a dog’s skin to dry up.

Excessive Bathing

Unlike humans that frequently need to take a bath, it is recommended that you don’t bathe your dog unless it is absolutely necessary, and this is to preserve the natural oils that keep the pooch’s skin moist and polished.

Failure to comply with this recommendation, and proceeding to bathe your pooch frequently, can cause these oils to dry up and result in flaky skin for your dog.

Infections And Parasites

Dogs are prone to suffering from several fungal and bacterial skin infections and these tend to result in the skin drying up.

Additionally, the presence of parasites in your dog’s coat can cause a myriad of problems for your pooch, and this includes the pooch’s skin drying up.

How Do I Know That My Dog Has Dry Skin?

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You can tell that your dog has dry skin if you notice symptoms such as scaling, itchiness, formation of pimples, reddening and inflammation of the skin, just to mention a few.

Dry skin in dogs typically comes with a lot of baggage, and some of the additional symptoms that can arise as a result of leaving your pooch’s dry skin untreated are outlined below:

  • Scaling – It is natural for dogs to shed minimal amounts of dead skin, but when significant amounts of your pooch’s dead skin cells begin to fall off, you should be aware that your pooch may be suffering from dry skin.
  • Itchiness – It is common for dogs with dry skin to feel itchy and scratch at the dry spots on their skin, and in most cases, this is the first observable sign of dry skin in dogs.
  • Pimples – This isn’t as predominant as flaking or itchiness, but it is also quite possible to observe the formation of pimples, alongside dry skin in dogs.
  • Redness and inflammation – Dogs with dry skin typically also experience reddening and inflammation of the dry skin regions.
  • Odor – If your dog’s dry skin is as a result of a bacterial or fungal infection, then you will most likely also have to deal with the pooch’s skin stinking up the house.

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Dry Skin?

You can treat your dog’s dry skin by either consulting your vet to treat an underlying medical condition, controlling allergies, or bathing the pooch. Additionally, canine dry skin can be treated with natural home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and oatmeal.

Consult Your Vet

As stated earlier, dry skin can be an indicator of an underlying health condition. And if this happens to be the case with your pooch, upon consultation, your vet will need to carry out a comprehensive diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment for the medical condition that is responsible for the dog’s dry skin.

Treatment methods for these medical conditions vary, but most can be controlled and cured with the use of prescribed medication.

Treating Allergies

Usually, your vet will prescribe an elimination diet to detect and treat food allergies, but environmental allergies are usually trickier to deal with.

The first step in treating dry skin caused by allergies is to reduce exposure to the allergens in question before medication is then prescribed to treat the dry skin.

Bathe Your Dog

Dry skin on a dog can also be treated by bathing the pooch with gentlemoisturizingdog-friendly shampoo. Additionally, if you’ve been regularly bathing your dog, the occurrence of dry skin may be an indicator that you need to cut down on the bathing frequency.

Dietary Changes

The issue of dry skin in dogs can also be addressed by placing the pooch on a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. Also, your vet may prescribe the use of supplements such as fish oil and probiotics to improve skin condition.

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How Can I Treat My Dog’s Dry Skin Naturally?

Apart from visiting the vet to find a solution to your furry friend’s dry skin, it has to be said that there are a number of effective homemade, natural fixes to this problem of dry, flaky skin on your dear Fido.

Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the most widely used home remedies for the problem of dry skin on dogs is the application of apple cider vinegar on the affected portions of the pooch’s skin.

When applied to a dog’s skin, apple cider vinegar is quite effective at displacing bacteria responsible for such a pooch’s dry skin issues. Alternatively, apple cider vinegar can be administered orally to a dog with dry skin as it has been proven to help with blood flow to the skin, and by extension, add moisture to the pooch’s skin.

However, before applying apple cider vinegar to your dog’s skin, it is recommended that you dilute it with equal parts of water to prevent hurting the pooch’s skin.


Oatmeal is a common remedy for relieving dry, itchy skin on humans, and it is equally as effective at treating your dog’s dry skin. And as proof of the effectiveness of this product in combating dry skin in dogs, you can find oatmeal as a major ingredient in most hypoallergenic dog shampoo products.

To treat your pooch’s dry skin with oatmeal, you’d have to prepare an oatmeal bath. And this can be done by grinding oatmeal and sprinkling the powder into warm water which is to be used to bathe the pooch.

If you’re reluctant to bathe your pooch, you can also make an oatmeal paste, and apply this paste to the affected regions of your furry friend’s skin.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the ‘go-to guy’ when it comes to treating canine skin issues, and this product is an effective remedy for combating the issue of dry skin on dogs.

Coconut oil has excellent moisturizing properties, and by massaging it directly into your pooch’s fur, you can provide quick relief to a dog suffering from dry skin. Additionally, coconut oil is safe to consume for dogs, hence there is no problem if your pooch licks some of the oil off its skin.

Plain Yogurt

Yogurt is an effective moisturizer and it also contains ‘good’ bacteria that help battle against bacterial infections and cure dry skin issues on dogs.

Additionally, by feeding your pooch with little amounts of plain yogurt per day, you can improve gut health and avoid gastrointestinal issues.

How To Prevent My Dog From Having Dry Skin?

You can prevent your dog from having dry skin by feeding an appropriate diet, carrying out regular medical check-ups, properly grooming the dog, and keeping the home atmosphere moist.

It is said that prevention is better than cure, and by implementing any of the preventive steps outlined below, you can avoid the issue of dry skin on your dog.

Regular Medical Check-Ups

Another way of keeping your pooch’s skin healthy is by making sure you don’t miss an appointment for a routine check-up at your vet’s.

By taking your furry friend for a routine medical check-up when due, your vet can detect potential issues with your pooch’s skin at an early stage, and put steps into place to ensure that such issues don’t degenerate into dry skin for your dog.

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Proper Grooming

By brushing your dog’s coat, at least, once a week, you can get rid of dust and dirt, and prevent the pooch’s skin from becoming dry.

When the time comes to bathe your furry friend, ensure you use high-qualitydog-friendly shampoo products to maintain your fido’s skin integrity. And you can also make use of vet-approved moisturizing wipes to keep your pooch’s skin moist in-between baths.

Feeding An Appropriate Diet

By placing your pooch on a balanced diet that contains the essential nutrients obtained from high-quality sources, you can keep your pooch’s skin healthy and free of problems such as dryness. Proteins and fatty acids are known for promoting healthy skin growth in dogs and should be major components of your furry friend’s diet.

Similarly, you can supplement your dog’s meals with fish oil as this product has been proven to be effective at promoting healthy skin development.

In conclusion, dogs that are solely fed dry kibble are at a greater risk of developing dry skin, as moisture helps keep nutrients intact before digestion; Hence, it is recommended that you regularly switch between dry kibble and wet food when feeding your dog to maintain skin quality.

Keep The Home Warm

During periods such as winter, when the atmosphere is relatively dry, you can adopt the use of a humidifier to keep the air in the home moist and prevent your pooch’s skin from drying up.

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Pete Decker