Dry Dog Skin Treatments: Butters, Salves, and Oils, Oh My!

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Dry skin in dogs may arise from a number of issues, but diet is often the most prominent cause of skin problems.


how to moisturize my dogs dry skin

Coconut oil is one of nature’s safest, most effective moisturizers. Humans have been using it for generations to soothe dry skin and hair, and it’s just as useful for dogs! As a topical moisturizer, a little bit goes a long way massaged into dry doggy skin.

The Best Dry Dog Skin Treatments: Butters, Salves, and Oils, Oh My!

From butters to balms, oils to lotions, and salves to creams, read on for some great products to soothe and protect dry dog skin and rough, chapped noses and paws.

From the makers of the popular lip balm (and lots of other body care products) comes this dogs-only lotion made to soothe dry, cracked noses and paws. With soothing olive oil and antioxidant rosemary, it helps repair your dog’s dry skin. As a bonus, it has a light, pleasant scent that won’t irritate you or your dog.

This 100% organic paw balm packs dog-friendly ingredients like coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, aloe, vitamin E, rosemary seed extract, and lavender oil. The dog-approved ingredients mean a little lick won’t hurt. Massage a bit onto your dog’s dry, cracked paws, and let the healing begin!

Loaded with all-natural moisturizing coconut, hempseed, and olive oils, this ointment also contains manuka honey, long touted for its healing properties in humans and dogs alike. Use it to treat itchy paws in spring, chapped ears in winter, and minor abrasions all year long.

This balm is not only certified organic, but it’s also made in the USA by a company founded by a dedicated dog mom and cancer survivor. After her battle with breast cancer, she committed to using only safe, non-toxic ingredients for both herself and her pets.

Coconut oil is one of nature’s safest, most effective moisturizers. Humans have been using it for generations to soothe dry skin and hair, and it’s just as useful for dogs! As a topical moisturizer, a little bit goes a long way massaged into dry doggy skin. But it’s even more effective as part of their diet, boosting the immune system and improving skin and coat health from the inside out. Coconut oil has lots of benefits for dogs.

The snout soother is 100% organic healing salve that works to soothe chapped noses and to protect from further damage. It’s safe for humans too!

Similar to the snout soother, this dog paw balm is formulated with organic ingredients to help soothe chapped and rough paw pads that can result from walking on hot sand, gravel, or concrete.

Earthbath has been making all-natural dog products for over 20 years. Their Oatmeal & Aloe shampoo is specially formulated to treat dry skin, relieve itching, and leave your dog’s coat soft and shiny. It’s fragrance-free, soap-free (meaning it cleanses without drying), gentle, and safe to use on puppies six weeks and older.

This veterinarian-formulated paw pad and joint cream contains ingredients such as collagen and lanolin to restore moisture to dry paws and elbows.

Olive oil is a kitchen cupboard staple that does double duty for dogs. For an external treatment, apply a small amount to your dog’s dry paws, noses, and ears. Be sure to rub it in completely, and remember, a little goes a long way! It’s also effective as part of your dog’s diet. Add a teaspoon to your dog’s breakfast and dinner to promote healthy, hydrated skin and fur.

Blissful Dog makes their organic nose butter from shea butter, olive oil, castor oil, avocado oil, almond oil, coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa seed butter, and essential oils. Rub a small amount into your dog’s dry, crusty nose, and it will be soft in no time! The all-natural ingredients are dog safe, and they offer breed-specific labels for a custom moisturizing gift.

This is one moisturizer you and your dog can share. Humans use pure shea butter to soften dry, cracked elbows and heels. It moisturizes and protects skin, and best of all, it’s totally dog-safe when applied topically in small amounts. Use shea butter to soothe dry paws, noses, elbows, and other dry patches. You can moisturize your hands and your dog’s paws at the same time.

The first ingredient in this convenient 1.6 ounce tube of USDA-approved organic dog salve is hemp seed oil, which is known for its health-enhancing properties. Its natural ingredients are well formulated: rosemary and lavender oils give it a fresh scent, beeswax, sunflower oil, and vitamin E contribute moisturizing properties, and tea tree oil is a topical antiseptic. Plus, the application is easy and hand-free: just roll or rub it on over your dog’s cuts, hot spots, or minor burns.

This protective wax with vitamin E helps to protect your dog’s paw pads from salt and snow. Though it is specifically designed for dry and tough winter conditions, it is useful year-round to help replenish moisture during the dry summer months and for dog paw conditions that can develop—such as sandburn.

The Bottom Line

All of these products contain dog-safe ingredients, meaning it’s okay if your dog takes a little lick. But even the dog-friendliest oils can lead to an upset tummy if over-ingested. Store your dog butters, salves, and oils out of reach, and distract your dog with a treat while you apply to keep most of the moisturizer on their body, not in their mouth.

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Lucky for your pup, mild cases of dry skin can often be resolved at home. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission. Advertisement

Just like us humans, dogs can sometimes suffer from the seasonal perils of dry skin. This usually happens in the winter or when exposed to a lot of wind or dry air. Dry skin that is just accompanied by mild itchiness and flaking is nothing to worry about, but additional symptoms or signs of discomfort could indicate something more serious.

While there are a wide variety of potential reasons why your dog has dry skin, some are easy to fix while others are more challenging.

Reasons Why Your Dog Has Dry Skin

The most common reason for run-of-the-mill dry skin is low humidity in the air. Your dogs skin needs some moisture to maintain its elasticity and resilience, and really dry air can cause it to lose that moisture.

If you notice that your dog is mildly itchy with some skin flaking during the winter, or if you live in an arid climate, try using a humidifier in your home. Forced-air heat in particular can really dry out your dogs skin. Using a humidifier can help to keep everyone more comfortable, including you and your human family members!

6 Tips for Treating Your Dog’s Dry Winter Skin

By John Gilpatrick

The cold, dry winter air is brutal. Just stepping outside stings your face and cracks your lips, and only the most liberal lotion appliers can escape the drying effects.

These aren’t human problems alone. Though most dogs have a layer of fur for extra protection, it can’t and won’t completely stop winter’s relentless effects on the skin.

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prevent these dog skin problems and counteract their negative effects. Continue reading for six easy ways to treat your dog’s dry winter skin and other cold-weather canine skin problems.

Symptoms of Dry Skin in Dogs

There are several ways to improve the quality of your dogs skin, as well as ways to treat his or her preexisting dry skin. Before we get started, lets talk about problems that can develop in a dog with untreated dry skin.

  • Flaking: Although this occurs in all dogs to some degree, it should not be noticeable in a dog that has normal skin. Flaking occurs when dead skin falls off of your dog; it is usually noted on the belly or underarms.
  • Dandruff: Similar to flaking, dandruff will come off in pieces. You may notice white flakes of dead skin anywhere that the dog has chosen to lie down.
  • Scaling: With this condition, the skin comes off in large sections, not just flakes.
  • Shedding: With most cases of dry skin, the hair loss is all over the dogs body, as seen in shedding. In some cases, the dog will have spotty or patchy areas of missing hair.
  • Pimples: Pimples appear as small, red bumps. If they are on the chin, especially if you have a short-haired breed like a Rottweiler or Pug, your dog might actually have canine acne, which is unrelated to dry skin.
  • Scabs: When pimples swell, they may eventually break open when your dog itches. They might scab up before you even notice them.
  • Redness: Red skin is a sign of inflammation. If your dog has dry skin, it is more likely to become infected and inflamed.
  • Odor: Dry skin can begin to stink in the presence of a bacterial or yeast infection. If you ignore dry skin when it is just flaking and scaling, it can lead to a more serious problem that causes odor.
  • Itching: A lot of times, an owner will not notice dry skin until the dog becomes itchy. Since the dog does not have allergies and will not respond to steroids, it will continue to scratch and need to be treated as described below.
  • The most important change you can make for your dog is switching him/her to a real diet.

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