You put on moisturizer every single day because you know it's a great way to improve your skin health. Since there are so many benefits for humans, you're wondering if your dog could use some moisturizer, too.
If your dog is having issues with dry, itchy skin and you want to take care of their skin health, then moisturizing them is a good option.
How does moisturizer work?
When you put on moisturizer, you're helping to prevent as well as treat your dry skin. What moisturizers do is keep water on the outer layer of your skin, ensuring that your skin is hydrated and soft and healthy skin cell turnover can occur.
Moisturizers are made of ingredients that bring water into the skin, including urea, lactic acid, and glycerin. Alternatively, they may be made of sunflower oil, jojoba oil, or lanolin, which smooth your skin.
You can buy moisturizers that are gels, serums, water-based lotions, and creams. There are different types according to what type of skin you have, such as dry, oily, mature, or sensitive skin.
Does your dog need moisturizer?
Humans should moisturize every day. However, you don't necessarily need to do the same for your dog unless he's having some sort of skin issue. A dog only needs moisturizer if he has a noticeable skin problem, such as dry, itchy skin or redness on the skin.
You could start by giving him a bath only using dog shampoo, especially a skin-soothing one like oatmeal. When you bathe your dog, never use human shampoo, as it can irritate his skin because dog and human skin have different pH levels. You also shouldn't bathe your dog too often. Bathe him when he's smelly or once every few weeks. In between baths, you can put a dry oatmeal shampoo on him to keep him clean and improve his skin health.
You can then moisturize him using doggy lotion; just make sure that whichever kind you buy, it is free from artificial ingredients or dyes, and is non-toxic. Another option is to rub some vitamin E oil on his skin—just don't give it to him in pill form without consulting your veterinarian first.
If your dog has a long coat, make sure you groom him regularly and untangle any matted hair. Combing his hair once a day is recommended so that you can get rid of dead skin cells. If your dog is not properly groomed, he's more likely to suffer from dry, itchy skin.
Your dog's diet also affects skin health
You can also prevent dry itchy skin by feeding your dog high-quality food. Try to avoid "bottom shelf" or ultra-cheap dog food, and opt for one that contains no fillers. If you're not sure what constitutes a high quality dog food, or if your dog has specific dietary needs, this is a great topic to ask your veterinarian about.
Adding a few drops of olive oil or fish oil into their food bowl, as well as incorporating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, will help their skin. Another option is to give them omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
An important note: Always ask your vet before adding foods, oils, and supplements to your dog's diet. You don't want to accidentally give them the wrong dosage or give them something they can't digest.
Humidifiers for skin health
If your home is dry, that could cause your dog to have dry, itchy skin. You can purchase a cool mist humidifier that releases moisture into the air, especially during the winter months when the heat is on. A cool mist humidifier is better for your home because a warm mist humidifier could be unsafe for dogs. If you do have a warm mist humidifier, make sure your dog can't reach it.
Serious skin issues mean it's time to call your vet
You may have tried moisturizing your dog's skin, changing his diet, and getting a humidifier, but your dog still has dry, itchy skin. In this case, your dog may have an infection or allergy, so it's best to call your vet in case your dog has to go on medication.
It's not critical that you moisturize your dog unless he has dry, itchy skin. Then, you can take a number of steps to ensure he has good skin health like buying him the right food, giving him supplements (after asking your vet about them), bathing him, and more. If his skin issue doesn't clear up, then you should consult your vet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.