It’s winter and a time when most dog owners breathe a sigh of relief that they are finally done dealing with fleas, ticks, allergies, and hot spots.
Everything is frozen and all the bad skin issues are put to rest for a few seasons.
But then a few weeks into the winter, dogs start itching, skin starts flaking and dog owners start worrying.
Causes Of Dry Winter Skin
Low humidity in the house
When the furnace runs almost non-stop during the winter months it sucks the moisture out of the air creating an environment that is dry.
Exposure to winter weather
The constant exposure to snow, rain, and sleet can be hard on a dog’s skin and coat. It can create hot spots and it can dry out the skin and coat.
Most dogs spend more time inside than outside during the winter. This extended amount of time can be hard for dogs who have a sensitivity to dust mites and mold.
Fleas can also lead to winter allergies, especially early in the winter when they are looking to hitch a ride on a warm body.
4 Ways To Manage Your Dog’s Dry Winter Skin And Coat
Groom Your Dog
Brushing your dog daily keeps the naturals oils in their coat flowing and it increases blood flow and air to the skin. The oils also help to moisturize and protect the skin
Try running a brush through their coat a few minutes a day in the winter months to help keep it healthy.
Keep those paws nice and trimmed to prevent less moisture from building up under the paws
Good nutrition is key to optimal health and if a dog is healthy on the inside, that helps them be healthy on the outside too.
Talk with your veterinarian to see if they recommend adding Omega-3 Fatty Acids to your pet’s diet for dry, itchy skin.
These oils help improve your dog’s skin and coat by keeping the natural oils present in healthy amounts. Omega-3’s will also work as anti-inflammatories and greatly reduce the intensity of allergens
Your dog’s food most likely contains the minimal daily requirement of fatty acids, but increasing the amount could improve your dog’s skin.
Leroy can’t have any type of fish oil due to his IBD but I’ve used Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet with Sherman with good success.
Add some moisture to the air inside your house
With furnaces running non-stop in many homes during the winter month, it dries out the air which can dry out the skin.
Using a humidifier or vaporizer can help add moisture back into the house and keep it from drying out more. You can use a warm or cool mist but if you’ll be placing it around kids or pets it would be safest to use a cool mist humidifier.
We have Aprilaire. Aprilaire is a whole-home humidifier that transports humidified air using the home’s ductwork but we also use a vaporizer as needed.
Provide plenty of fresh water
Eating snow isn’t going to keep a dog hydrated.
Plenty of fresh water keeps a dog hydrated.
80% of your dog’s body is made up of water. It keeps your dog healthy.
It helps digestion, the brain, the lungs, the muscles and it helps blood flow through the veins.
Water flushes toxins through the body. When a dog drinks water it flushes toxins out through the kidneys. If there’s no water moving through the dog he absorbs these toxins.
Water also regulates a dog’s body temperature so make sure they are getting enough water in the winter. If you don’t think that they are, you can follow a few tips to help them consume more.
Topical Sprays and Moisturizing Shampoos
Sometimes you need to bring in a topical spray to help nourish the skin. There are many different kinds of spray out there and you can speak to your veterinarian to see which one they recommend.
I use Earthbath Vanilla and Almond. It smells so good and it does help.
Another good product that we’ve had success with is Pro-Gro. You can dilute this product and use it as a leave-in conditioner. It’ll condition the hair shafts and help cut down on breakage.
And Skin Tonic by Wondercide is another favorite of ours.
If your dog needs a bath in the winter make sure to use a good moisturizing shampoo that is recommended by your dog groomer or veterinarian. Anything with oatmeal or aloe is normally good for dry skin.
Dry your dog well
Dry your dog well after they come inside from the snow. You can use an absorbent towel or even a dog blow dryer.
Try not to let them air dry since this will create a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to hot spots.
Symptoms of Dry Winter Skin
Common symptoms of dry skin in dogs are itchiness, licking, flakey skin, brittle coat, hair loss, odor, pimples, and inflammation.
Many dogs will scratch or bite at their skin because it’s itchy. This can lead to hot spots which are red, raw and often have a discharge and odor.
Some dogs that are super itchy and have inflamed skin may have a skin infection and should be seen by a veterinarian.
It’s important to take of your dog’s skin and coat all year round and keeping their coat healthy through the winter months will help in the spring, when they are ready to blow those winter coats!