5 Tips for Treating Your Dog’s Dry Skin this Winter

Winter | Grooming | Health & Wellness | Dog

Has the dry winter air been damaging your dog’s skin? From dandruff and shedding to itchy skin and hot spots, our harsh Canadian winters can do a number on your dog’s skin and coat. Protect your dog’s dry skin this winter with some simple skin and coat tips. 

Winter weather can bring drier air, and the effects of these cold spells can cause multiple skin and coat issues in your pets. Let’s look at some of the easiest ways to rejuvenate your dog’s skin and ditch the winter itch. 

5 Solutions for Your Dog’s Dry Skin in Winter 

While cold, dry air may not be the only contributor to your pet’s skin issues, it is still a factor. Talk to your vet to rule out parasites, allergies, and other health conditions that could be the underlying cause of their skin and coat woes.  

Here are the 5 simplest solutions for conditioning your dog’s skin and protecting against the effects of seasonal changes: 

Humidity 

Humidity 

Dry, winter air can be one of the causes for your dog’s dry skin. You can’t control the weather outside, but you can affect the environment in your home. Try using a small humidifier in your house to increase the moisture level of your home.  

Another factor that can affect the humidity in your house is how high you're blasting the heat. It may feel colder than Mars outside, but remember that your dog wears a fur coat 24/7. Turn the heat down a few degrees and throw on some slippers and a sweater instead.

These few degrees can make a big difference in the moisture level in the air.  

Hydration 

Hydration 

Adding moisture to your dog's environment will help, but keeping your pet hydrated will be the most critical factor in their skin and coat health. Hydration is especially important if you are feeding a strictly dry diet, like kibble. While these diets are complete and balanced, they do not supply enough moisture.  

Combat the dehydrating effects of dry food by encouraging more moisture intake. Most dogs do not drink enough naturally, so get creative. Moisture can be added to their food, their treats, and even their toys. Add fresh and wet foods to their meals or offer your dog some delicious bone broth as a treat.

Healthy Fats and Oils 

Healthy Fats and Oils 

Adding healthy fats and oils into your pet’s diet can help to soothe dry skin and reduce inflammation that can cause their itchiness.  

They help to support the cell cycles in your dog’s skin, keeping the cells alive for longer and allowing them to shed less frequently. This will not only reduce itchiness but also limit general shedding and dandruff.  

Animal sources, like wild-caught salmon oil, are the most effective, as they contain a wider variety of omega fatty acids, and a better balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Plant-based fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil and coconut oil, are a great option too.  

Supplementing with healthy fats and oils are a yummy addition to any meal. They are easy to incorporate and welcomed by any dog. Start by adding a tiny amount to introduce the flavour, and slowly work your way up to a full dose.  

Grooming 

Grooming 

Regular grooming should always be a part of your pet’s care routine, but it’s especially important during seasonal changes. Daily brushing can help to reduce skin and coat shedding, as well as to remove dander and bacteria that collect on the surface of the skin.  

Stick to a simple slicker brushes and combs to avoid over-grooming your pet. Deshedding brushes should be used no more than 1-2 times per week, as they can remove healthy fur and irritate the skin when used too frequently.  

Occasional baths can help too, but bathing should be infrequent. Aim for once every 4-6 weeks. If you need to bath more frequently, then you should consider using just warm water and a small amount of baking soda. This can help deodorize without stripping any of the healthy oils from their skin.  

Topical Moisturizers 

Topical Moisturizers 

Sometimes soothing your dog dry skin requires a topical treatment. This can reduce the itch and prevent your dog from licking or scratching the affected areas raw, causing hot spots.  

Coconut oil, pure Aloe Vera, and even apple cider vinegar dilutions can help to eliminate the itch caused by dry skin. All are safe to consume in small amounts, so they are safe to apply to areas that your dog can lick.  

Don’t overdo it with topical treatments. They can help soothe and condition, but they are rarely a total solution. They are best used to reduce irritation quickly, but alone, they will not get rid of the underlying cause.   

Bonus Tip: Winter Protection 

The tips above will help to reduce symptoms of dry skin in your pet, but acting preventatively can ensure that your pet is prepared for any seasonal changes. Make sure you have all the tools to keep your pet protected from cold weather. 

Winter gear isn’t just about fashion. Finding the right coats, boots, or paw waxes can protect your pet from frigid outdoor temperatures, as well as ice melters, salts, rain and ice.  

Consider seasonal changes and adjusting your routines and activities to prevent the effects of cold weather on your pet. Winter means shorter days, so walks may be better scheduled during the warmest, sunniest parts of the day, as opposed to early mornings when the temps are more savage. 

Treating Your Dog’s Dry Skin 

You may have noticed that many of the tips we mentioned work the same for you as they do for your dog (except for the bathing one - that should be much more than occasional!!). If you notice signs of dry skin in yourself, then chances are your pet is suffering the same.  

Although the signs may not be visible, all our tips can be used preventatively. You may not see your dog’s dry skin, but that doesn’t mean that winter isn’t taking its toll. Anticipate your dog’s dry skin this winter by building a consistent and healthy skincare routine all year-round.  

How do you care for your dog's dry skin in winter? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.


Posted by Krystn Janisse

Krystn Janisse

Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.


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