Dry skin in dogs, especially puppies, can be a frustrating condition to treat. As heartbreaking as it is to watch your puppy be uncomfortable, dry skin can also lead to larger issues like infection. Fortunately, figuring out how to help dogs with dry skin is doable. Read on to learn more about why it's important to treat dogs with dry skin, what the underlying causes might be, and steps you can take to alleviate flaky skin in dogs and puppies.
What causes dry skin in dogs and puppies?
Some causes of dry skin in dogs are benign, such as dry heated air in the wintertime, too many baths, or a topical allergy to a shampoo or cleaner. These are all causes that have at-home remedies that can quickly bring your puppy relief. A cause such as an unmet nutritional need could cause dry skin, but this is something that your veterinarian would need to consult with you about.
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However, sometimes in a dog, dry skin can indicate larger problems such as external parasites like fleas, mites, and/or lice, a bacterial or fungal infection, ringworm, contact dermatitis, or allergies. If your puppy isn't growing or gaining weight like you'd expect or has a poor body condition or unhealthy coat, this could be indicative of congenital liver abnormalities or other internal issues.
If a dog has dry skin, finding the underlying problem is important
In a puppy, dry skin can also be indicative of an underlying problem that shouldn't be ignored. Since there are several conditions that can cause dry, itchy, flaky skin in dogs, having your puppy looked at by your veterinarian is vital in ensuring you get the right diagnosis in a timely fashion. Pay attention to any other symptoms or signs of illness your puppy might be displaying as this can be important for obtaining a correct diagnosis.
Preventing dry skin on dogs
While some factors that can cause dry skin in dogs might be beyond your control, there are some preventative measures you can take to stave off dry skin in the first place.
First, make sure you schedule routine veterinary checkups to stay on top of your puppy's health needs. Next, make sure you are feeding your puppy a high-nutrition, high-quality puppy food that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Next, stay on top of all recommended anti-parasitic medications to help prevent parasitic infestations. Finally, monitor your puppy's water intake and if you think they need more water in their diet, try moistening their dry food or feeding wet food instead.
If my dog has dry skin already, what can I do?
If your puppy has no underlying causes for the dry skin, your veterinarian may recommend adding essential fatty acids to your puppy's diet. These come available in either liquid or capsules that are specially formulated for puppies and dogs. Also, make certain that your puppy is eating a high-quality diet and drinking plenty of water.
If you suspect that your puppy's dry skin might be being caused by environmental factors, such as low air moisture or irritants, here are a few tips as well:
- Try adding an air humidifier in the room(s) your puppy spends the most time
- Regularly groom your puppy with a gentle brush to help keep their skin free of build up and dirt. This also has the added benefit of being a great way to bond your puppy, acclimate them to being handled, and help get them socialized
- After your puppy is at least 8 to 12 weeks old and able to regulate their body heat more readily, you can try shampooing with an oatmeal-based shampoo and following up with a gentle conditioner. Note: If your pup's dry, flaky skin is due to a medical condition, he may need to be treated with a special, medicated shampoo that your veterinarian will prescribe
Dry skin is a common condition in puppies, but one that can be chronic and indicative of deeper underlying issues. While there are many things you can change at home to help your puppy with dry skin feel more comfortable, it's always best to get an opinion from your veterinarian to make sure that your dog with dry skin is getting the right treatment.