Winter can bring many challenges for dogs and, just like us, dry skin is one of the more common ailments the cold weather can inflict.
It's not just Winter or a change in weather that can be the underlying cause of itchy, flaky skin in dogs. We've enlisted the help of Veterinary Nurse, Siobhan Griffin who is part of the Lintbells team, to explain some of the most common causes of flaky skin in dogs as well as getting her top tips on how to manage your dog’s skin more generally.
Let’s explore some of the most common causes.
Siobhan begins by telling us, "There are 8 million dogs in the UK and up to 1.2 million (15%) have skin sensitivities, so it’s a very common concern for dog owners.”
Dry, flaky skin, which looks like dandruff can have many causes from over or under bathing. A reaction to fleas can also cause sensitivities and itchy skin. It can even be seasonal.
Siobhan says, “This can then be broken down into further categories and every dog will be different. It’s not unusual for dogs to be sensitive to more than one thing.”
If your dog is showing signs of itching, biting, and chewing, excessive licking, or rubbing themselves on your furniture or carpet for relief, they could have sensitive skin, with dry skin being one of the signs.
Limiting these causes and being aware of their impact can be very helpful, but what are you to do when your dog is already struggling with allergies and discomfort that’s often associated with these conditions?
Siobhan adds, “As well as the above signs, your dog might also have red or pink sensitive skin which may feel warm to touch. Itchy skin can be caused by environmental sensitivities, for example, pollen. Food sensitivities, for example, can vary from different proteins to grains.
Another potential cause of dry, itchy, and flaky skin could be linked to your dog’s breed.
So, what should you do if your dog has dry, flaky skin?
Siobhan says, “As with most things, a multi-modal approach is what we recommend.”
Here’s her 5-step approach on why does my dog have flaky skin:
1. Keep up to date with Parasite control.
“This is important not just during the summer, but all year round.”
2. Speak with your vet about exclusion and hypoallergenic diets.
“Your vet will also be able to examine your dog and do any skin tests they think necessary and recommend hypoallergenic diets if needed.”
3. Research topical solutions (such as shampoos) to help your dog with the itch.
"Many pet owners have experienced the frustration but then again, your vet will be able to advise after examining your dog.”
4. Keep a diary of your dog’s signs and if, for example, they flare up at certain times.
“If you have noticed a change in your dog’s skin since walking somewhere different, simply avoiding that area if you can help.
“Also, a good tip, if the cause is environmental or seasonal, is to rub your dog down after walks with a damp towel, paying particular attention to the feet and tummy because they will have been in contact with the grass.”
5. Add supplements to your dog’s diet.
“Giving Essential Fatty Acids helps to support the natural anti-inflammatory process and maintain the skin’s barrier function."
“The right blend of Omega 3 and 6 oils can really help itchy dogs who scratch a lot – our premium cold-pressed oils are recommended by vets to soothe itches and calm sensitive skin. They also help nourish and soothe dry flaky skin and reduce excess moulting.”