Dry Skin in Dogs and Cats: How to Fix & Prevent
Dry skin making kitty itch? Read below for tips on keeping your pets' skin healthy during the winter months.Cold weather means hot chocolate, extra snuggles with your pet and… dry skin. Humans can lather up with lotion, but winter also brings dry skin in dogs and cats. Human lotion isn’t meant for use on our furry friends, so what can you do to help alleviate their dry, itchy skin?
What is dry skin in dogs and cats?Dry skin is simply that: skin that lacks the proper balance of moisture and natural oils to remain soft, strong, flexible, and healthy. Dry skin is often accompanied by ‘dandruff’ and a dull coat. PetMD breaks it down this way: “the skin is producing excessive amounts of sebum – a fatty product of the sebaceous glands in the skin – and skin cell turnover increases. The dead skin cells may clump up or remain as patchy layers on the surface of the skin,” which is what prompts the endless scratching.
What causes dry skin in dogs and cats?A sweater will keep Junie warm, but she'll need more than that to protect her skin from drying out. Between the colder weather, lack of humidity in the air due to use of the heater, and frequent temperature changes between the indoors and outdoors, the winter months wreak havoc on our pets’ skin. Skin that is dry, itchy, flaky, red, sensitive, and/or irritated may also be signs of allergies or other illnesses. If these problems persist in your pet year-round, we suggest consulting with your veterinarian.
How can I fix my pet's dry skin?Brush your fur-child. Not only will this encourage the shedding of any dead, flaky skin, dirt, or slobber picked up during playtime, but it will also stimulate the production of your dog’s natural oils and help distribute it throughout their coat. As an added bonus, regular brushing “promotes better blood circulation which aids in the growing and shedding cycles,” according to the AKC. Incorporating brushing into your regular grooming routine will ensure a healthy coat 365 days a year. If Fido’s skin is especially irritated, try a soothing oatmeal formula pet shampoo. This tried-and-true home remedy should help ease the urge to itch. Never use a human shampoo on a pet--the chemicals in some human shampoos can quickly irritate a pet's skin. Incorporating whole foods into Fluffy’s diet is also a great way to ramp up production of essential oils and healthy coat growth. Eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables are tasty sources of Vitamin E, while fish oil like Nordic Naturals, flaxseed oil, flax meal and walnuts are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids. You can feed as a snack or atop their usual meal.
How can I prevent dry skin in my pets?Gidget LOVES Honest Kitchen Beams. A high-quality diet always includes a healthy dose of fats and oils. When fed on a daily basis, healthy fats help ensure that your pet’s body will be in tip top shape, ready to take on any new challenges that come with the winter months. Although proper nutrition is the foundation for overall health and wellness of our pets, additional supplements can help nip specific issues in the bud. The folks at Nordic Naturals have supplements specifically formulated for cats and dogs, including a skin and coat variety. Looking for a tastier way to supplement? Try K9 Natural’s salmon tail treats, or fish skin treats like Beams from The Honest Kitchen. Frequent bathing also dries out the skin. Instead, try one of Petology’s conditioning sprays for a between-bath fix. When bathtime eventually does roll around, use a moisturizing shampoo. What did we miss? Fellow animal lovers, share your solutions in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page! Sources: Drs. Foster and Smtih, American Kennel Club, PetMD
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