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Do I Need to Worry About My Dog’s Dry Skin?

Written by Anna Hollisey


Little pup having a good scratch

If your dog’s scratching more than usual, they could have dry skin. What causes it, and when do you need to worry? In this article we’ll explore some of the reasons, and treatment, for dry skin in dogs. 

What Causes Dry Skin in Dogs?

There’s no simple answer to this question, since it will be different for each dog. Here are some reasons for dogs to develop dry, flaky, or itchy skin:

  • The season. In winter, dogs move from cold wintry conditions to centrally-heated homes, and this can affect the condition of their skin. 
  • An allergy. Allergies to food (such as wheat or dairy) or environmental factors (pollen or dust mites) can cause your dog’s skin to become dry and itchy.
  • Too much bathing or swimming. Humans can top up moisture levels with a post-shower moisturiser; dogs who are regularly bathed might need a moisturiser, too.
  • Inadequate nutrition. If their diet is deficient in fatty acids or proteins, your dog’s skin can become dull and dry. (We’ve got a supplement for that!)
  • A skin condition… or other health issue. Dogs can be diagnosed with recurring dermatitis (dry, scaly skin) just like people. Sometimes it just happens, especially as they age, but other times it’s caused by diabetes, endocrine disease, or parasitic infection. Get your vet to check. 

Dog Skincare FAQs

Keeping your dog’s skin in great condition isn’t just about vanity. Fur that’s matted and skin that’s dry can be uncomfortable AND indicative of a health problem – so it’s always important to investigate. Here are some of your questions, answered!

Can I improve my dog’s skin with a supplement?

Healthy skin and fur begin with a healthy digestive and immune system. And dry skin can be a sign that your dog needs more vitamins in their diet. You need our wonderful digestive aid, Soothe! It features rich Omega-3 fish oil, postbiotics (to support immunity) and egg membrane (packed with protein). It’s a great way to help your dog’s skin from the inside out, and it’s already worked for lots of dog owners. 

My dog’s fur is matted. What should I do?

Matted or knotted fur can become uncomfortable and irritable. But it happens – especially in certain places, like beneath floppy ears. If you can’t remove the matted fur using a de-matting brush, you might try a professional groomer. Alternatively, some vets will perform de-matting, using a sedative for nervous dogs. Be warned that they might resort to very short clipping (so be prepared for the results).

Clipping matted fur should only be a last resort (for which your vet should make the call) for some breeds. Dogs with double coats should never have their fur clipped unless done for health reasons because it can cause distress to the dog as well as long term damage to the coat in some cases.   

How often should I bathe my dog?

Let’s be honest… a bath isn’t high on the agenda for most dogs. In fact, many of us lather our dogs for our own peace of mind (or home)! 

Dog fur is self-cleansing, as it is coated in oils which prevent dirt from getting a grip. Unless your dog has been rolling in bacteria-ridden faeces, they probably don’t need a bath. However, if your dog has dry, sensitive or itchy skin, you can use a specialist shampoo which can actually help to soothe their condition. But be aware that over-washing can cause dry skin too. 

How should I choose a dog shampoo?

Human shampoo isn’t suitable for our four-legged babies. When selecting their shampoo, trial and error is the best method – for ideas, talk with other people who have the same breed as you. If researching online, you could try checking the ingredients list. For sensitive or dry skin, seek out things like shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, ceramides and oatmeal.