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12 Ways to Treat Your Pet's Dry Skin

Dog itching with dry skin

Dry skin is a real bother, and your pets can deal with the same dry skin issues that humans do. If you’ve ever coped with dry skin, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Dry skin often means itchy skin, which leads to lots of scratching, potential hot spots, and other problems for your pet.

Why Do Pets Get Dry Skin?

Lots of things contribute to pet dry skin, from environmental factors to underlying health problems. Your first step to easing your pet’s dry skin woes is to figure out what’s causing the problem.

1. Poor Diet

If your dog or cat eats a diet lacking certain nutrients, in particular, fatty acids and Omega-3s, it can lead to dry skin. These ingredients are essential to maintaining healthy skin and a healthy coat. Therefore, choosing foods that provide the necessary nutrients is critical. 

If your pet isn’t getting enough from their typical diet, consider adding Omega-3 supplements. Look for options approved by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and your vet.

2. Dry Environment

Dry air is another large contributor to dry skin in pets. All skin requires some moisture to stay supple and maintain its elasticity. When air is very dry, it robs the skin of this vital moisture. 

Depending on where you live, you might notice your pet only deals with dry skin issues in the winter, when the air tends to become drier. However, if you live in an arid climate, dry skin could be a year-round aggravation for your furry friend.

3. Overgrooming and Overbathing

Grooming is an essential part of taking care of your pet, but it’s possible to do it too much. Overgrooming pets, primarily giving your pet too many baths, strips away the oils your pet’s skin needs to stay healthy.

4. Parasites

If your dog or cat ingests or gets certain parasites, it can lead to a host of problems, including several skin conditions. Mites, fleas, and ticks can cause things like Seborrhea and Mange.

5. Illnesses and Infections

Several chronic health conditions also lead to dry skin, including hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s Disease. However, if an illness or disease causes your pet’s dry skin, you will likely notice other concurrent symptoms. These symptoms vary based on the disease but could include vomiting, hair loss, and skin infections.

Various infections also lead to dry skin. For example, gastrointestinal imbalances can create an overgrowth of yeast. Other harmful bacteria can build up on the skin causing an infection. Always seek professional help if you suspect a skin infection, as it could signal a larger issue.

6. Allergies

Certain foods or environmental conditions may trigger an allergic reaction in your pet that includes dry skin. If your pet has allergies, it’s crucial to seek proper treatment from a vet.

Cat scratching from dry skin

What Are the Symptoms of Pet Dry Skin?

Depending on your pet, you may notice a variety of symptoms of dry skin. Some pets will have multiple symptoms, while others may only have one or two.

Here are some of the most common dry skin symptoms in pets.

  • Itchy skin
  • Flaking and dandruff
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and pimples
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Odor
  • Overly oily skin
Dog in bath tub

12 Ways to Treat Your Pet’s Dry Skin

If you only notice one or two symptoms of dry skin, try a few at-home remedies first to see if it alleviates your pet’s discomfort.  However, if there are other symptoms present, like diarrhea, lethargy, appetite or behavioral changes, etc., there could be more going on beneath the surface. 

Therefore, if you notice other symptoms, schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. Otherwise, see which of these tips makes sense based on what’s causing your pet’s dry skin

1. A Healthy Diet

Feed your pet a well-balanced diet that meets their specific nutrient needs based on their age, breed, size, and any special health conditions. It’s also critical to ensure your pet gets enough water so they (and their skin) stay hydrated. Discuss your pet’s diet with their vet to see if there is anything else you should do to fill in nutritional gaps, such as supplements.

2. Give Your Pet an Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory qualities that help relieve dry, itchy skin. Giving your pet an oatmeal bath not only soothes dry skin but creates a protective barrier that helps their skin retain moisture.

You can purchase ready-made oatmeal shampoos for dry skin at pet stores, or make your own pet oatmeal bath. Grind up oats into a fine powder and mix them into a warm bath. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil or a cup of milk can heighten the bath’s moisturizing effects.

3. Vitamin E Oil

Apply Vitamin E oil onto dry skin patches to help heal and moisturize the skin. In some cases, your vet might recommend an oral Vitamin E supplement to ease inflammation. However, always check with your vet first.

4. Unsweetened, Plain Yogurt

If your pet’s dry skin is due to digestive issues, your vet might suggest feeding them plain yogurt. Imbalances in your pet’s gut can lead to certain bacteria and yeast building up on the skin. Yogurt contains probiotics that can help balance your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. 

Therefore, adding one or two teaspoons to your pet’s food a couple of times a week could help alleviate dry skin caused by harmful bacteria. However, check with your vet before trying this fix as some pets can’t digest yogurt well.

5. Coconut Oil

Rub some coconut oil between your hands to warm it up and soften it, then rub it into your pet’s skin. The fatty acids in the oil help moisturize your pet’s skin. Also, coconut oil is safe for dogs and cats, so if your pet tries to lick it off, you don’t need to worry.

6. Use a Humidifier

Negate the effects of dry air on your pet’s skin with a humidifier. Use a cool-mist humidifier and keep it somewhere out of reach of your pet. 

However, too much moisture can also lead to skin issues. Therefore, observe your pet carefully when you start using a humidifier to make sure you have the right balance of moisture in the air.

7. Green Tea or Chamomile Bath

Besides an oatmeal bath, a chamomile or green tea bath is also a good way to ease dry, inflamed skin. Brew a single tea bag in 8 ounces of water and let it cool. You can dab the tea bag directly onto hot spots and dry patches on your pet’s skin. 

If your pet is itchy all over, steep several tea bags in a warm bath for a few minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and let your pet soak in the bath for about 5 to 10 minutes. If your pet isn’t a fan of baths, try giving them a Rolly Cannoli or Neat-Lik Treat Mat filled with their favorite goodies to calm and distract them.

8. Soak in Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are another dry skin soother. Put a few tablespoons in a bath of warm water and let your pet soak for several minutes. 

9. Olive Oil

Applying olive oil to dry skin can provide relief, but typically, most vets recommend adding it to your dog’s diet. If your cat has dry skin, too much olive oil could cause diarrhea or stomach issues, so check with your vet first. It might not be a solution for your cat, or you’ll need to keep it topical.

10. Use an Apple Cider Vinegar Spray

If yeast infections are to blame for your pet’s dry skin, whip up an apple cider vinegar spray to help get rid of too much yeast. Use a 50-50 solution of water and apple cider vinegar and apply it with a cotton ball or spray bottle. 

However, do not apply to raw, irritated areas or hot spots as the mixture will cause stinging. Also, if you suspect a yeast infection, make sure to have the vet check out your pet.

11. Consult with Your Pet’s Vet

If you notice multiple symptoms occurring with your pet’s dry skin or dry skin persists despite your at-home remedies, see a vet immediately. Your vet will perform several tests and an exam to determine the likely cause of your pet’s dry skin. 

Once you know the cause, your vet can prescribe the appropriate course of treatment. Treatments might include diet changes, supplements, a medicated shampoo, or giving your pet medication.

12. Make Sure Your Pet Is Protected from Parasites

Don’t forget to give your pet their parasite prevention and stay up-to-date on important vaccines. Talk with your vet about the right options for your pet.

Help Your Pet Stay Comfortable in Their Skin

After alleviating your pet’s dry skin problem, it’s important to help keep their skin healthy. Continue to feed your furry pal a balanced diet that includes the necessary Omega-3s and fatty acids. 

Groom your pet regularly to brush out dirt and other buildup in their coat, but avoid overbathing them. Stay up-to-date on parasite prevention and vaccines, and don’t miss your regular vet check-ups.

Most importantly, stay observant when it comes to your pet. If you notice any issues, the sooner you address them, the faster you can seek treatment. Be proactive and discuss the proper way to maintain your pet’s skin with your vet. Certain breeds may require specific care when it comes to their health and grooming routines.

You can find more helpful tips on taking care of your furry family members in The Neater Pets Blog. Whether you’re looking for health tips, fun activities, or want to learn interesting pet facts, we’ve got you covered.


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