Dry Skin

Information on the causes of itchy, dry skin in dogs and cats.

Select a Topic

  1. What is Dry Skin?
  2. What Causes Dry Skin?
  3. Diagnosing Dry Skin
  4. More Information on Dry Skin

What is Dry Skin?

An animal’s coat is the first sign of health and vitality. An animal’s skin is sensitive to the environment and may need extra special care to remain in good condition. The furry coat of your pet is kept moisturized by natural oils in the skin that help to lubricate the skin and promote skin elasticity. Dry skin on dogs and cats may appear flaky, brittle and dry.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Certain underlying disorders that strip the skin of essential oils may be responsible for cat and dog dry skin. However, the most common culprit is poor diet or poor skin hygiene. Dandruff may result from food allergies or intolerances, while itchy skin may lead to scratching and hair loss – producing a patchy, dull coat.

Excessive washing of your pet may also result in dry, flaky skin which causes itching. This happens when the production of natural oils (present on your animal’s skin) is disrupted - to counteract the dry skin caused by frequent washes oil glands produce too much oil.

Diagnosing Dry Skin

Diagnosis and treatment will depend on the cause of the dry skin. Most animals will experience dry skin at some point in their lives, and with the right care, most skin problems are easily corrected. Depending on the cause, treatment may involve topical creams (however these may also have the potential for side effects). Your vet may also suggest supplementing omega-3 oils into the diet.

More Information on Dry Skin

Tips related to dry skin in pets:
  • Do not change diet suddenly as this may cause an imbalance of natural oils and consequently a dry, flaky skin.
  • Never use human cosmetic lotions on your animal’s skin. These products contain rich chemicals that can cause irritated skin.
  • A tablespoon or two of olive oil added to the food a few times a week can help improve dog and cat dry skin and coat by stimulating natural oils in the skin.
  • Dry your pet thoroughly after washing, as shampoo residue can dry on the skin and cause flaky skin, itching and rashes.
  • Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin. Sources include carrots, squash and sweet potatoes that can be added to your pet’s diet.
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