Dry Skin on Dogs

Dry Skin on Dogs

Does your pup just seem to not stop scratching? It could be that your dog is suffering from dry skin. With many potential causes, it can be hard to find the reason as to why your dog’s skin is irritated. This article takes a look into possible causes of dry skin on your dog.


Just as humans can suffer from allergies, our four legged friends can be susceptible to flare ups from allergens. These can be caused by food, seasonal (pollen), flea saliva, or other products such as washing powders, cleaning products etc. Allergies will likely come with other symptoms aside from dry skin. These can be: sickness, sneezing, runny noses, pain, and more. If left untreated, allergies can lead to a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. 

If your dog is experiencing a serious allergic reaction, this includes shortness of breath, facial swelling, vomiting, shaking or convulsions, seek advice from your vet immediately. 

There are also steps you can take to try and help prevent your dog experiencing allergies, these are:

  • Regular cleaning
  • Air purifiers
  • Hypoallergenic products
  • Regular vet check-ups.

Your vet can also run tests to identify what your dog is allergic to, meaning you can plan accordingly to reduce exposure to the allergen (where possible). They may also recommend medication to alleviate symptoms.


Perhaps your dog is experiencing dry skin as a result of a nutrition deficiency. Owners choose their dog’s food based on many different factors. Whether this is due to cost, preference, availability, or your dog’s preferences, it might be the food your dog is consuming being the reason for dry skin. If your dog has irritated skin, you should research the essential nutrients your dog should be consuming. If this doesn't align with the diet they’re currently on, this may lead you to the cause of your dog’s issue.

If you suspect this to be the case, then it would be a good idea to take your dog to the vets to discuss any necessary changes. A vet can advise on any necessary supplements to complement their diet.

Too Many Baths

Keeping your dog clean is important, however, baths should be done in moderation. Frequent bathing can actually do more harm than good, perhaps leading to dry skin. If your dog is experiencing dry skin, excessive bathing may be at the root of the problem, as this can reduce your dog’s natural protective oils.

When it comes to bath time, it may not be over-bathing that causes dry skin, but the products that you’re using to clean your pet. It may be that your dog’s skin reacts to a specific product, leading to dry, irritated skin. We recommend taking your dog to the vets if their skin flares up after every bath.

Dry Air

One of the most common reasons for dry skin on dogs is that there is low humidity in the air, otherwise known as “dry air”. Dogs' skin requires moisture to retain its resilience and elasticity. Dry air takes away that element, which can easily result in your pooch having dry, itchy skin.

The simple solution to this problem is to purchase a humidifier for your home. Humidifiers will add moisture to the air in your home, and your dog’s skin, perfect for those dry winters or summers.

Other Causes

While the above causes are often easier to treat, there may be another reason why your dog may be experiencing dry, itchy, or flaky skin. Such as:

  • Parasites - Whether it’s lice, scabies, or mites, the cause of your pet’s dry skin may be due to parasites. This requires specialist action from your veterinarian to safely remove them.
  • Infections - Dogs can experience dry skin as part of a bacterial or fungal infection, usually accompanied by other symptoms. Infections, such as ringworm, can actually be infectious, not only to other dogs but to humans. This emphasises the importance of getting dry skin diagnosed and treated.
  • Systemic disorders - Your dog’s dry skin may be part of a bigger problem. It may be a symptom of hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, cancer, or auto-immune diseases. Dry skin should always be taken seriously.
  • Breed-specific conditions - Certain dogs are more prone to dry skin than others. For example, conditions such as zinc-responsive dermatosis can be the root of dry skin in fast-growing puppies. Vets can narrow down the causes of your dog’s dry skin, possessing knowledge of different breed-specific conditions.


There are many causes for dry, flaky, or irritated skin on dogs, but you should always take your dog to the vets if you notice this occurring. While the most likely explanation for dry skin is not threatening to your dog, it's important to take your dog to your vet surgery. This can ensure that not only is your dog freed from discomfort, but other potential threats are identified and taken care of early.

Dry skin cannot always be prevented. However there are certain measures that you can take to reduce the chances of it occurring such as: keeping up with parasite treatments, a healthy diet, vet check-ups, keeping them clean (bath in moderation), and regular grooming.

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