Why does my dog have dry skin?

Dry skin can affect any dog at any age. It’s irritating, itchy and, if not treated, it can become infected and painful. Just like we humans hate having dry, cracked and itchy skin, you’re dog isn’t in love with the feeling either.

So, let’s get to the bottom of why your dog may be experiencing dry skin, and find out what options are available to treat and prevent it. Your pup will thank you for it!

There are many reasons your dog's skin can become dry, flaky and itchy, including parasitic infections, allergies, dietary insufficiency, exposure and bad grooming. In some cases, it may be necessary to have your veterinarian help you identify and treat the cause of your dog's dry skin.

So before you start using our moisturizing product to re-hydrate your dog’s skin and fur, here are four of the leading causes of dry skin in dogs and how to treat them first.


Parasitic Infections

If your dog’s dry skin is being caused by a parasitic infection, buying care products will only act as a temporary solution.

But the good news is that parasitic infections can be treated in various ways.

Fleas, mites and lice are the usual causes of dry skin complaints in dogs. Flea bites can cause an allergic reaction known as Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD), which causes the skin to become dry and itchy. If left untreated, red welts can emerge and become infected, while mites can cause mange in dogs.


There are a number of options when treating your dog for fleas, mites and lice.


There are topical formulas which usually involve placing a small spot of liquid onto the back of your dog’s neck, there are also tablets that can be ingested, as well as flea collars and tags. These options are usually effective, and can help prevent further infection. Preventing parasitic infection altogether is easy - just use regular treatments for both external and internal parasites.

There are special collars and liquid treatments which will protect against multiple parasites. Your vet can advise on the best treatment for your dog. Keep your pet's bedding clean and fresh to reduce the risk of parasitic infection, and ensure you follow good hygiene practices in the home.



Allergies can produce multiple reactions in your dog, dry skin being just one of them. Speak to your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may be allergic to something.

If your pet is itching, chewing or licking more than usual, it may be reacting to allergens in its environment. Just like humans, your dog could be reacting to anything from pollen to cleaning products, blood tests and skin samples will help to pinpoint the problem.

One common cause of dry skin due to allergy is dust mites. Good hygiene practices and regular laundering of the dog's bedding is the best way to prevent dust mites. Food intolerances can also cause dry skin in dogs. A blood test will identify the problem ingredients.


Bad Grooming

Grooming is vital to keep your dog's fur and skin healthy.

If you skip it, dead hairs accumulate, causing dandruff or flaky skin. On the flip side, too much grooming or the use of harsh chemicals can strip your dog’s skin of its natural oils.

This is more often seen in long-haired breeds, but it is still important to regularly groom short and wire haired breeds as well. Wire-haired breeds such as the Patterdale Terrier, and curly haired breeds such as the Fox Terrier will also benefit from regular stripping, where the top layer of hair is removed.


Dietary Insufficiency

As with food intolerances, dietary insufficiency is best prevented by advice from your veterinarian.

Omega-3 oils are essential to keeping the skin and fur healthy, so make sure that your dog’s food is supplemented with this if it is not already present in the meal. Alternatively, you can serve your dog tuna or another oily fish once a week.

Some breeds may benefit from a breed-specific feed. For instance, Royal Canin makes a food specifically designed for West Highland Terriers that is higher in the oils needed to moisturize and protect the skin and fur.

Be sure you feed your dog the right amount of nutrients for their age, breed, size and weight.



Exposure to the elements can dry a dog's skin out in the same way that humans suffer. Ensure that any exposed skin is  covered or protected with high factor sunscreen during the summer months. Winter wind can also strip the skin of moisture. Dogs who spend time outdoors should have access to protective shelter.


While dry skin can be a problem for some dogs, it’s also easy to prevent. If despite your precautions your dog develops dry skin, don't waste time waiting for it to clear up on its own.
Consult your vet to find the cause, then follow any advice for treatment or dietary changes.

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