Written by: PetMD Editorial

When your dog is feeling under the weather, your vet should be the first person you call. Seemingly minor symptoms may be indicative of a serious underlying medical condition, in which case do-it-yourself remedies could be ineffective or cause more harm than good.

But if your dog has a minor ailment, such as dry skin or a mild upset stomach, some home remedies can be quite beneficial. Here are nine simple, vet-approved home remedies that can provide relief for your canine companion.


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Dry skin on dogs is frustrating for dogs and owners alike. There are many potential causes for dry skin, which can make diagnosing skin conditions in dogs tricky. If dry, itchy, or flaky skin is making your dog uncomfortable, here is what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and best treatment options for your pet.

What causes dry skin on dogs?

When the weather changes — or even when the conditions within a dog’s indoor environment change — dry skin can strike. “Dry skin in dogs can be due to environmental changes, such as cold weather in the winter [or low air humidity],” says Dr. Juliette Bouillon, assistant professor at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Another factor could be your dog’s food. She notes that “poor nutrition,” including deficiencies in protein, vitamins, or essential fatty acids, could be a culprit.

Just like people, dogs can suffer allergies to a number of different factors in their environment. “Because allergies can cause excessive itching in dogs and cats, it is one of the major causes of dry skin,” says Dr. Amanda Nascimento, the head of integrative veterinary medicine and research at NHV Natural Pet. “It can be caused by ingestion of food, dust, or liquids, for example.”

Similarly, all those baths you think are helping your dog stay in top condition might actually have the opposite effect on their skin. “Excessive bathing can also lead to dry skin, especially when the shampoo is not followed by a moisturizer,” Bouillon notes.

In some cases, your dog’s dry skin could be something more serious. “Ultimately, scaling can develop in association with some illnesses such as endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes mellitus), skin allergies, resolving skin infections, parasitic infestations (mange, lice, Cheyletiella) and, more rarely, cancer or genetic diseases like ichthyosis (fish scale disease),” Bouillon warns.

What are the symptoms of dry skin on dogs?

Because there are several different causes of dry skin on dogs, there are also a range of symptoms. “The first step is to be able to identify dry skin,” says Wag! advisory board member and veterinarian Dr. Ann Eliopulos. “Typically, these dogs will have a lackluster coat and flakes, which are dead skin cells that are sloughing off. A certain amount of flaking is normal, but excessive amounts and/or chronic flaking is not.”

Other symptoms are more serious and often require a visit to the vet, says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian with These symptoms include redness, which can indicate inflammation in the skin from an allergic or infectious cause; crusting, which may indicate a fungal, bacterial, or parasitic infection; itchiness, which could indicate parasites, allergies, bacterial, or fungal infections; hair loss, which could indicate endocrine changes, autoimmune disorders that attack the skin and fur, parasites, or fungal infections; or an odor, which is usually indicative of a yeast infection that is a common secondary infection with bacterial or other infections. In many of these cases, your vet will recommend effective prescription medications as a next step.

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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.

1. Vitamin E Oil for Healthy Skin

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight aging, says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian based in New Jersey. (Antioxidants prevent free radical damage, which scientists believe contributes to aging.) While your dog couldn’t care less about maintaining her youthful glow, she can still benefit from Vitamin E oil. Morgan says it adds protection against UV radiation, which is especially beneficial if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors.

It can also be used to moisturize your companion’s dry skin. Morgan recommends massaging Vitamin E oil on your dog’s coat. “Vitamin E capsules can also be broken open and used on warts, calluses, or dry spots,” she says, adding that there is no cause for concern if your pet licks off the small amount of the oil.

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