Why Does My Dog Have Dry Skin?

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Like humans, dogs get dry skin. A dog’s dry skin is caused by either an allergy, a parasite or a bacterial reaction

Signs of dry skin include:

  •     Constant rubbing of their face or body against furniture and carpeting
  •     Skin discoloration
  •     Scabs
  •     Scaly patches
  •     Hot Spots
  •     Rashes
  •     Bald patches
  •     Flakes
  •     Lesions
  •     Lumps

Treating dry skin can be as simple as using itch relief shampoo or more complex like giving your dog an oral medication. Either way, if you suspect your dog has dry skin you’ll need to take them to the vet in order to diagnose the cause of their skin issue. Extreme biting, licking or scratching.

Dry skin on dogs can be classified into three categories, parasitic infection, bacterial infection or environmental sensitivity. The most common symptom of dry skin is itching. It’s completely normal for dogs to scratch themselves, it’s when it becomes excessive that there’s a problem. Excessive scratching, licking, biting and chewing, to the point where the dog is hurting themselves, is a sign of an underlying problem. In medical terms, excessive itching is called pruritus. Pruritus is the second most common reason that people bring their dogs to the vet. When a vet is looking to diagnose the cause of dry skin they will look at the other symptoms the dog is displaying.

The causes of dry skin and their related symptoms are many, which is why a clinical exam is necessary for diagnosis. Within the categories of parasitic and bacterial infections and environmental sensitivities are more specific diagnoses. These diagnoses are:

  •     Parasitic Infections

Parasitic infections are caused by fleas, lice, or mites. Your dog’s coat will appear mangy and you may notice bald spots.

  •     Seasonal Allergies

Changes in the weather may cause your dog’s skin to become excessively dry or excessively moist. The most common signs of this are flaky, dry skin or moist eczema.

  •     Fungal Infection

The most common fungal infections in dogs are ringworm and yeast. Common symptoms of ringworm infections are itching, hair loss, flaky or crusty skin, and brittle or misshapen nails. Signs of a yeast infection include greasy skin, scaly skin, persistent head shaking, licking, scratching and rubbing, swelling and warmth, odor, hair loss and abnormal drooling.

  •     Behavior issues

Boredom, stress, and anxiety can cause your dog to lick themselves excessively which leads to dry skin, hair loss and skin infections.

  •     Nutritional allergy

Food allergies are very common in dogs. In some cases, this allergy will manifest itself through dry skin. Signs of a food allergy include excessive itching and rashes.

  •     Poor quality food

Many commercial dog foods eliminate the good oils that provide healthy skin and coats. Keep an eye out for excessive scratching, flaky skin and lusterless fur.

  •     Environmental allergies

Some cleaning and grooming products may contain ingredients that your dog is sensitive to. If this is the case you will notice your dog constantly licking themselves and chewing on their paws.

  •     Bacterial Infection

If your dog is licking their skin excessively this may result in a bacterial infection. This is a result of the bacteria in your dog’s mouth being transferred to their skin. Signs of a bacterial infection are hair loss and tender, red patches.

As this list demonstrates, many of the causes of dry skin have overlapping symptoms. For this reason, it’s essential that you take your dog for a clinical examination. The vet will be able to perform tests to determine the exact cause of your dog’s dry skin and prescribe a treatment. However, the best treatment is prevention. The best ways to prevent dry skin are:

  •   Hydration: ensure your dog has easy access to clean water and that they drink throughout the day.
  • Tick and flea preventatives: there are several products on the market that will keep ticks and fleas from being attracted to your dog.
  • Hypoallergenic shampoo: ensure that there are no allergens in the shampoos you use for your dog by choosing a hypoallergenic option.
  •   Natural food: choose a dog food that has no artificial ingredients.
  • Supplements: consider adding a fatty acid supplement to your dog’s diet to help keep their skin and coat healthy.
  •   Grooming: brush your dog often.
  • Humidifier: in the winter, when the weather tends to be cold and dry, use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist.
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Welcome to Spike’s Dog Blog by Acme Canine. Throughout the site, you will find a variety of helpful dog training articles, insightful dog behavior tips, and truthful product reviews from nationally-recognized canine trainers and professionals.