Last week we had a particularly cold week, typical up here in the Great White North. And although the snow is welcomed by our crew, the cold, dry, winter weather isn’t so well-loved. In fact, it can do a number on the skin.
Do dogs get dry skin in the winter? You’d better believe it! Just like the humans in our house, the dogs were itching and scratching. And it isn’t as though we can share our bottle of moisturizer with them! With all that fur, and rolling around in the snow… it can be so, so tough to keep them moisturized in the winter.
Thankfully, with a few simple steps, you can help the skin better retain its moisture, and limit the dry winter itching and scratching. These tips are ideal for dogs with dry skin in winter. We followed each and every one last week – and our pups are thankful for it.
Why Winter is Hard on the Skin
The winter brings a more arid, cold, and dry wind – and this can be really tough on the skin. It can quickly strip the skin of its moisture, leading the cracking and chapping. And that leads to itching…
Cue the vicious cycle of scratch-irritate-heal-irritate-scratch.
Dry skin in the winter can affect any dog – long- or short-haired, big or small. And while dry skin isn’t inherently life-threatening, it can make your animal very uncomfortable.
Dogs with dry skin in winter tend to share a few common symptoms – and they’re ones we can relate to – you’ve probably had them yourself! Itching, flaky skin… it’s just uncomfortable.
So, as you might have guessed, we always try our best to get ahead of the itch, rather than trying to deal with it once it has already taken hold.
Tips for Dogs with Dry Skin in Winter
1. Fresh Water, Always
Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water. This one should be a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget about it. Moisturize from the inside out with water – the same goes for you!
You can also up the moisture intake by adding water or nutritious bone broth to your animal’s meals (here’s an easy recipe). And, as always, don’t forget to wash those dog bowls!
2. Skip the Bath
It can be really tempting to give your dog a bath in the winter, especially after a particularly muddy/dirty walk, but don’t. You might even think a warm bath would help sooth the skin. But we implore you, skip it!
Bathing removes the necessary oils from the skin microbiome and can increase skin irritation. That microbiome is home to millions of friendly bacteria that help defend the skin – you don’t want to wash them down the drain! Plus, once your dog gets out and dry off, the skin starts to dry out too. If your dog just can’t go without a cleaning, instead of a full bath, wipe down areas that attention and dry them well.
3. Skin-loving Supplements
The proper diet is essential no matter the time of year, but it can be really important for the skin in the wintertime. Along with a healthy, well-balanced diet, there are several supplements that can help dogs with dry skin in winter.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a must. And yes, omegas are an essential element in any healthy diet – important all year long – but really need to be a part of the diet in the winter!
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil is also great to add to your animal’s food for skin health.
And remember that skin microbiome we mentioned earlier, the gut microbiome is just as important. Probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut microbiome, which helps protect the immune cells from damage. Look for one with a lot of different strains.
Humidify can play a big role in how your dog’s skin handle the winter. As winter sets in, our houses become drier and drier. Winter air has very little water in it – this is why our houses dry out so much in winter.
Keeping a humidifier full and running where your pet spends most of their time can help stave off that dryness. We’ve had ours running all over the house for the last few weeks!
5. Brush, Brush, Brush
Brushing your dog frequently removes dead hair, helps to stimulate blood circulation, and keep the skin healthy. It also helps stimulate and distribute the skin’s natural oils that form a protective, moisturizing barrier.
Brush your dog at least once daily to remove skin flakes and loose hair. Plus, it just feels nice!
A good massage can do amazing things too!
For dogs with dry skin in winter, you want to do all you can to try and keep that moisture in. And these tips will help. Try them all to keep that itching and scratching to a minimum!