Dry skin in dogs is a common ailment. It comes in many visible forms, from rashes to hot spots, and there are a variety of underlying causes. Sometimes the reason for dry skin problems is just that your dog is too hot under all that fur, but other times it could be something more complex like an infection. Whatever the cause of your dog’s dry, itchy skin, there are steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms to make your dog more comfortable. As with any course of pet skin care treatment, it is essential to consult your veterinarian and include their expertise in your decision for how to best help your dog.   

Medicated Shampoo

In the world of pet shampoo, medicated shampoo is a tried and true method of alleviating itchiness and irritated skin. There are specific chemical ingredients you will only find in medicated shampoos that are specifically formulated to neutralize the natural pH balance of your dog’s skin. A medicated shampoo is a great starting point for alleviating dermatitis and hot spots, and it also works great as a preventative measure. Ingredients like cocamidopropyl betaine and aloe barbadensis leaf extract are excellent components to look for in a medicated shampoo. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a compound derived from coconut oil and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Similarly, inactive ingredients like Aloe Barbadensis leaf extract is a dog safe derivative of aloe used to soothe and heal dry and damaged skin. 

When it comes to choosing a shampoo, owners must be aware of what they are buying. Many “natural brand” shampoos make claims about their ingredients without the proper evidence that their products work to alleviate itchiness. When it comes to choosing a medicated shampoo, look for shampoos that are paraben and sulfate-free. These harsh chemicals tend to dry out a dog’s skin, making the condition you were attempting to treat potentially worse.   

Trimming and brushing

For most dogs, and long-haired breeds especially, heat rash and dry, itchy skin that accompanies it can be a real problem. Your dog has a natural way of getting rid of excess hair in the form of shedding, but you may need to help with the process to prevent any problems from arising. Despite what you might think based on how much pet hair you find around your house, not all the fur that your dog sheds falls off. In fact, the vast majority of the fluff you find is fur that your dog shed a while ago and has only recently fallen off.  

As your dog sheds its fur, the hair stays clumped in the coat until more shedding or shaking, or scratching causes the fur to fall off. The most effective way to remove the hair your dog is shedding is with a brush. Routine brushing is an integral part of making sure your dog’s skin does not become overheated by excess hair. Depending on the type of breed, you may need to brush one or more times a day.

In addition to brushing, giving your dog haircuts, especially during the summer and in generally warmer climates, allow your dog’s skin the ability to breathe. Too much fur, especially in a hotter environment, can quickly turn your dog’s skin dry and scaly which could lead to heat rash or hot spots. Trimming your dog and brushing their coat are both great ways to stay ahead of dry, itchy skin and keep your dog’s coat healthy during the summer.

Topical Remedies

Believe it or not, your dog needs to moisturize to ensure healthy skin, too! Just as you apply topical creams to your face and body to keep your skin healthy and hydrated, you should do the same for your dog. There are plenty of dog-specific moisturizing products and sprays that help keep skin moisturized and well-conditioned. Most often, these types of conditioning products come in the form of a spray that you can spray on your dog’s coat and then leave to air dry.  

We offer an incredibly safe and effective hot spot & skincare spray and gel that provides topical relief to animals suffering from skin irritations like dry skin and hot spots. Not only does our hot spot spray and gel relieve itch and irritation, but it also prevents flare-ups from developing in the first place. 

While sprays might be a good solution for your dog’s torso and legs, what about the face and paws? The good news is that our products are completely safe to use around the eyes and ears and are also safe if licked or ingested. Our hot spot and skin irritation solution is just what your pet needs to finally get some relief. 

In addition to using a specially formulated product for treating your pup’s dry skin, certain home remedies like coconut oil, olive oil, and aloe are also dog-friendly for treating provided they are used as topical solutions and not consumed. Coconut oil and olive oil can be consumed by dogs in small quantities, but aloe can be harmful to dogs when ingested. 

Wrapping Up

Treatment for your dog’s dry skin is as easy as establishing routine grooming habits and maybe adding a few additional supplements to the mix. Whether you treat itchy skin with a medicated shampoo, a hot spot spray, or some organic coconut oil, be sure to speak with your vet regarding the best choices for your dog long term. Dry, itchy skin can be a real pain, but with these helpful remedies, your dog should be feeling comfortable in his own skin in no time!









Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, WCHP-AH, brings over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine.  She is the Technical Services Veterinarian with Innovacyn, Inc., parent company of Vetericyn Animal Wellness. She received her DVM from Oklahoma State University and now resides in Southeast Kansas with her husband, two children, four dogs, and six horses. Prior to working with Innovacyn, Dr. Mayfield owned and operated the Animal Care Center in Columbus, KS.

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