What to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Dry Skin

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.


what to add to dog food for dry skin

Chicken and sunflower oil is a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. You can find supplements meant for dogs like fish oil that make it easy to give your pup a daily dose of healthy omega-3’s because you can just add them to the food. You can also try flaxseed oil instead of fish oil if you like.

Symptoms of Dry Skin for Dogs

what to add to dog food for dry skin

what to add to dog food for dry skin

The symptoms of dry skin are easy to spot. You might hear the thump thump thump of your pup scratching behind the ear all day and night.

In some cases, your dog might chew and bite at an area enough to cause “hot spots,” which leads to further skin problems. So-called hot spots happen when your pup chews away the surrounding fur and licks an area enough to create a red sore spot.

Besides hot spots, other skin issues you might see include:

  • Dandruff
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Pimples
  • Scaly or flaky skin
  • Fur loss
  • Whether this is your first bout with sensitive skin or your 10th, you want to know how to heal your pet’s skin problems and encourage skin and coat health.

    But first, what are some of the typical reasons for skin issues in dogs?

    What Causes Your Dog’s Dry Skin?

    First, know that skin problems can affect puppies as well as adult dogs. There’s no specific age at which they occur. For example, some pups are born with the genetics that makes them especially sensitive to common allergens, while others develop them later in life.

    Because skin problems can be a sign of so many things, there’s an entire veterinarian specialty called dermatopathology. This study of the skin incorporates the dog’s diet and environment.

    In some cases, dogs can have dry skin caused by parasites, allergens, infections, or a skin condition. In other words, it’s complicated.

    Your veterinarian will likely evaluate your dog, probably ask you a bunch of dietary questions, and they may run some tests on your pup. They may recommend a limited ingredient diet and a consultation with a nutritionist.

    For example, if you and your veterinarian suspect food allergies are causing skin problems, then it makes sense to try out a limited ingredient dog food.

    How to Know If Your Dog Has Dry Skin

    The most common symptoms of dry skin are fairly obvious:

  • Excessive itchiness
  • Dandruff
  • Flakiness
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs
  • Inflammation
  • Bumps on the skin
  • Some dogs may only experience one of those symptoms, others may experience them all. One thing is for sure, if your dog is constantly scratching their skin, something is wrong!

    What Causes Dry Skin on Dogs?

    To find a solution to your four-legged friend’s skin problem, we must understand why this occurs.

    Just like humans, there are many reasons why your dog can be experiencing dry skin. One of the most common reasons is allergies. Like their human counterparts, dogs can also get allergies from their food, environment, or the seasons.

    These allergies can cause dry skin, itchiness, and inflammation, causing significant discomfort for your dog.

    Other possible causes of dry skin include infections, cold weather, or harsh soaps. There are hypoallergenic shampoos or sensitive shampoos that target dry skin during bath time. You can find these at your local pet store.

    Your dog may also be prone to dry skin due to their breed. If you believe that your dog is prone to dry skin, you may want to consult with your veterinarian for a solution.

    Five things to add to dog food for dry skin

    So, let’s get to the heart of the matter and give you five ingredients that you can add to your dog’s food.

    All of these “add ons” are easy to get hold of, reasonably priced and easy and quick to use.

    [1] Olive Oil

    The most common of these is olive oil. Olive oil is high in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, and can simply be added to your pet’s daily meal. Add about a teaspoon for a dog of around 30 to 40 pounds, and a tablespoon for dogs in the 90 pound range.

    [2] Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is yet another favorite additive to enhance skin condition, but should be used with more caution. Start with a small amount, gradually building up to the amount recommended by your vet.

    [3] Apple Cider Vinegar

    This can be used, both internally and topically, to treat your pet’s dry skin. Taken as a dietary supplement, apple cider vinegar acts as a natural acidifier and may increase blood flow to the skin.

    Used in the skin, it can help stunt the growth of harmful organisms which may contribute to the condition.

    [4] Yogurt

    Yoghurt is also a moisturizer which, taken orally, can help “good” bacteria colonize the skin, overcoming the effects of other organisms which may cause dryness and inflammation.

    Use a teaspoon a day for a small dog, up to a tablespoon for larger pets.

    [5] Liquid Fish Oil

    You could also try adding liquid fish oil to your dog’s food, as this is rich in omega-3 fatty acids so important to health.

    And there you have it.

    Five quick fixes to add to food that should help fix dry skin.

    But, do you want to know what is even better than adding something to dog food?

    It is changing their diet entirely, to make sure that your dog is eating the best balance of food that there is.

    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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