Is it Normal for My Dog to Have Dry Skin?

Dry skin in dogs can be frustrating for pet owners who want to be sure that their pet is healthy. It can also be messy when your dog has dry skin, and they are shedding skin cells all over the house. You might also wish that you didn’t have to wash your hands after each time you decide to touch your dog.

Knowing more about dry skin in dogs can help you to determine when you need to take your dog to the vet. Some cases of dry skin in dogs are not a big deal, but there are health conditions that can cause this symptom, and you need to be aware of what to look for if these conditions are present.

dry skin on dogs

What Causes Dry Skin in Dogs?

There are various reasons that your pet might have dry skin. While this is not usually a reason to panic, you do need to be aware that your dog’s dry skin is likely related to a health issue that should be attended to.

1. Allergies

Dogs can have allergies to their environment, to other pets in their home, to plants in their yard, or even to their food. Allergies can have many symptoms, from hives, scratching, and digestive upset to dry and flaky skin. Allergies can grow progressively worse over time, and an allergic reaction that begins with dry skin might evolve over time into a more significant problem that causes your dog to be quite sick.

Allergies are very simple to attend to in most cases, but your veterinarian will likely need to be involved to help you to calm down your dog’s systemic response. You will then need to try things like changing their food and removing possible allergens from the home until you figure out what is causing your dog’s allergies.

2. Parasites and Fleas

Dogs can have a variety of different kinds of parasites that can cause irritation to the skin. Fleas are the most common of these pests, but mange is a close second. If your pet has these parasites in their coat, they will suffer skin irritation because of their presence. The first symptoms of this kind of health issue are often itchy skin and dry and flaky skin. Over time, parasites can cause your dog’s skin to get increasingly worse, and your pet could suffer from anemia and skin infections without treatment.

Caring for your dog’s parasite problem is key to making sure that their coat gets healthy again. You will also want to attend to this problem so that you and the other people in your home do not get exposed to these parasites as well.

3. Systemic Issues

Conditions like Cushing’s disease and thyroid problems can all cause dry skin. These conditions have their own unique and additional symptoms, but one of the first signs that your pet has a systemic infection is often dry and flaky skin. These pets will need long-term care to support their health and well-being.

Taking your pet to see the veterinarian is a good idea if you think that they are suffering from these conditions. Blood tests and other kinds of diagnostics can identify the health condition that your pet is suffering from and make it possible to treat their condition accurately.

4. Infections

Fungal and bacterial infections can both cause dry and flaky skin. These different issues are caused by exposure to fungus or bacteria that start to cause damage to the skin. Over time, these infections will get increasingly worse without treatment. While you might not see any signs that your pet has an infection right away beyond flaky skin, this cannot be entirely ruled out. Some pets do not show many outward symptoms of infection until the infection is quite severe.

Your veterinarian will be able to take skin scrapings and use blood tests to verify if your pet is struggling with an infection of some kind. These conditions will require antifungal drugs or antibiotics to be able to get your dog’s skin back to being healthy again.

5. Excessive Bathing

Many pet owners like to keep their dogs clean, but this can lead to problems with your pet’s skin. If you bathe your dog weekly, you might be bathing them too often for their coat to remain healthy. Harsh soaps and other kinds of bathing products can also dry out your dog’s skin. Make sure to bathe your dog no more than a couple of times a month, and to get gentle and pet-safe shampoo for your pet.

6. Poor Nutrition

This is a very common reason for dry skin in dogs. If your dog is not eating a quality kibble product, they might be missing out on the nutrition that they need to be healthy. Even wet foods or natural foods need to be carefully balanced to provide everything that your dog needs to prevent dry skin and a poor-quality coat. Your vet can help you to find the right pet food to ensure that your dog is getting the nutrition that they need.

Dry Skin in Dogs is Usually Related to Health Issues

Dry skin in dogs can be linked with lots of health issues. Some of these health concerns are more worrying than others. You should be sure to take your dog with dry skin to the vet so that you can find out why they are struggling with dry skin, and you can provide the right support to make sure that their health issue is addressed.

If your pet has dry skin, you don’t need to panic in most instances. However, you should consider this a sign that something is wrong with your pet’s diet, their coat care routine, or they might have allergies to something in their environment. Dry skin can be messy and unsightly, and your pet might also not be feeling their best. Diagnosing dry skin is easy with the help of a vet, and your pet will thank you for finding out why they are suffering from this issue.

Need to talk with a veterinarian about your dog’s dry skin? Book an appointment at Heart + Paw. We have many locations to serve you!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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