Compulsive licking, flaky skin, and general discomfort
are enough to make any dog go crazy.
Winter is the time when dog's skin is especially susceptible to dryness and irritation so why not nip it in the bud before it becomes a major issue? From simple DIY treatments to tips on avoiding potential irritants, here's a guide to canine skin irritation and how to fix it.
Identify The Source
It's hard to treat a condition without knowing where it stems from. Skin irritation can be caused by a variety of issues, ranging from relatively benign (reaction to an insect bite) to more serious (sarcoptic mange). It can be tempting to try to diagnose the issue yourself but in the long run, you're doing a disservice to your dog. As soon as you notice that your dog is exhibiting signs of skin irritation, make an appointment with your vet to rule out anything that could potentially be dangerous and to discuss courses of treatment.
Remove Potential Allergens
Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to allergies, especially when it comes to the food that they're eating. A lot of dog foods contain GMO produce, excess quantities of grains, hormone-laden meats and other unpleasant ingredients that wreak havoc on a dog's system, inside and out. If you haven't already, consider switching to an all natural diet that consists of human grade food products. Chances are good that you'll notice a significant difference within a short period of time.
Dry skin, which can be caused by things like climate and other environmental factors, is recognizable by characteristics such as dandruff-like flakes on the fur, cracked skin, and sensitivity to touch. If your dog has been diagnosed with having dry skin issues, a great way to remedy the situation is by adding a well-chosen supplement to his diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are an easy way to add a boost to your dog's diet that will help relieve the itch and work on remedying the dryness. Look for high quality flax seed or wild salmon oils and be sure to follow the directions carefully.
Groom With Care
Whether you take a DIY approach to dog grooming or leave it to the professionals, it's important to be mindful of how your dog's bath time may be affecting his skin. If you notice that your dog seems to experience increased irritation following a grooming session, it's time to look into identifying potential culprits.
First, check the ingredients of any shampoos, conditioners, soaps, or other products being used. Harsh chemicals, additives, and fragrances can all contribute to reactions so it's often recommended to skip the products altogether, unless absolutely required. If your dog needs to be shampooed, look for a gentle, moisturizing formula and follow up with a conditioner that offers the same. It's best to avoid prolonged time spent under the blow dryer as the heat tends to increase the chances of irritation. If you aren't able to let your dog air dry, towel him off to the best of your ability and wait until the last possible moment before blasting the heat.
Dogs, like humans, need plenty of fresh, clean water to feel their best. This is especially applicable during the winter months when dry air, bitter cold, and forced heating join forces to create the perfect conditions for parched skin and dehydration. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh water and be sure to monitor levels to ensure that he's getting enough to drink.
Consider Natural Relief
Provided that you've been given the all-clear by your vet, there are several natural remedies that can be used to help relieve the discomfort that comes with itchy skin. One popular options is using a cotton ball saturated in organic apple cider vinegar or witch hazel and dabbing it onto the affected area several times daily. Often, this is enough to reduce the inflammation that comes with mild itching and provides significant relief to your dog. Coconut oil is another fantastic option and is generally considered safe to use on dogs. The only problem is that dogs often find the taste of coconut oil to be irresistible and can't help but lick it off, which is exactly what you don't want to have happen.
Kate is a writer and a lifelong lover of dogs. She regularly volunteers with rescue organizations and counts her years spent working alongside a therapy dog as a personal highlight. She's the proud parent of a beautiful Golden Retriever (and a tiny human, too) and is happiest when spending time with her pack.