Dry Skin on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

The causes, symptoms, and treatments every pet owner should know.

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dry skin. And unsurprisingly, some of the same causes of the condition in humans are responsible for dry skin on dogs, too. Although its generally more of a discomfort than a serious danger to your pet, dry skin can be spotted and treated effectively so that your pup is back to living his best life in no time. Here are the the causes, symptoms, and most effective ways to treat dry skin on dogs, according to veterinarians.


why does my dog have dry skin

Food allergies, and environmental allergies and seasonal allergies, such as pollen, dust, feathers, grass, animal dander, grain, and flea saliva can cause a host of symptoms in dogs that often include dry skin.

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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.

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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!

Causes and Treatment

why does my dog have dry skin

why does my dog have dry skin

Dry skin is a common problem in dogs, but there can be several reasons why it can occur. Some reasons are easily solved while others indicate a more chronic issue. Knowing what can cause dry skin and how it can be treated can help you keep your dog comfortable and healthy.

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.

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