Winter can be a tough, uncomfortable time for both humans and their pets alike – especially when it comes to either pre-existing or seasonal skin conditions. Youth can be a natural deterrent to issues like these, but as we and our pets age, it’s important to maintain health. While dry skin may not seem like a big deal, it can cause a domino effect of problems. Basic dry skin can lead to dandruff, itching, cracks, open sores, and hot spots.
What Causes Dry Skin?
For the most part, dry skin is a normal side effect of the climate changes that take place during the winter. The outdoor temperature drops, the inside heat goes up, the humidity is low, etc. Dry skin generally isn’t a cause for great concern but nonetheless, it’s an uncomfortable situation to be in for both pet and owner. I mean, imagining having an itch you couldn’t scratch!
Below are common factors that can contribute to the onset of, or the worsening of, dry skin.
1. Over-bathing and Grooming
On first instinct, you might want to up the number of baths you give your pet to help keep skin clean and moisturized. But over-bathing can actually worsen dry skin and other underlying conditions. It removes natural oils, drying skin out even more, and in some cases your go-to shampoos and bathing products can cause further irritation. It might seem counter-productive, but avoiding too much bathing and grooming will actually help your dog’s skin maintain natural moisture and oils.
2. Heating Systems
Many people experience skin symptoms as soon as it’s cold enough to need to turn on the heating system. The same is true for your pet. Winter weather means that the air is dry and lacking in humidity, which plays a large part in keeping skin flexible, soft, and comfortable. Maintaining a balance between keeping your house warm, but not too dry, is important.
3. Staying Indoors
Some pets aren’t thrilled with cold weather. They’ll pop outside quickly to go to the bathroom, but don’t want to play in the snow or wander around the yard when temperatures drop. That’s completely reasonable – who wouldn’t want to curl up on the couch in a warm blanket instead!? But staying indoors exposes your pet to more cleaning products and harmful fragrances while cutting down on air circulation. Air circulation is a key part in skin staying moisturized and dandruff-free, so getting out and about in winter has huge benefits.
Whether it’s a combination of all the above or just a specific factor that’s causing your pet’s skin to dry out, there are plenty of ways you can ease the irritation. And no, we aren’t suggesting picking up and moving to warmer climates, though it is tempting!
A humidifier will benefit not only your pet, but you as well. Winter air lacks in humidity, which dries out skin and paves the way for irritation, cracks, and potentially chronic wounds. A humidifier works by combating the dry air coming from your heat source. These machines circulate moisture into the air around your home. You can shop around for a variety of sizes and price points to figure out which product is best for you.
2. High-quality Food
Diet can play just as important of a part in your pet’s skincare routine as any other topical or environmental treatment. Some skin issues may begin with slight, sometimes unnoticeable allergies that are then complicated by the dry winter weather. Many veterinarians suggest finding limited ingredient dog food or a fish-based food to provide essential nutrients for skin health. It’s not a guaranteed fix, but the correct diet can be the first step in helping your pet combat skin issues.
3. Coconut Oil
Over the last decade, coconut oil has found a home in many market niches. It has a seemingly endless list of uses: haircare, cooking, increased metabolism, dental hygiene, insect repellent, and many more. It’s also been deemed a great skincare item – not only for its moisturizing properties, but because it protects and heals wounds quickly and effectively. Coconut oil can be just as good for your pet as it is for you, when used in the same ways. Use it to soothe and moisturize your pet’s skin while simultaneously promoting healthy coat growth.
There’s a vast variety of products on the market that claim to help with skin care management, but navigating what is and isn’t safe can be tricky. Most pets don’t react well to products with added fragrances or an abundance of chemicals. The following options have been vetted to ensure that they’re natural and safe while still providing relief from dry skin.
1. Natural Dog Company Organic Skin Soother Stick
The Natural Dog Company has a variety of products that are lauded by their customers, but the skin soother stick is one of the most effective and convenient products that they offer. Not only is this stick completely organic, it’s also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. A great option for dogs with general irritation, scrapes, rashes, and hot spots. The balm also comes in a travel-friendly stick.
2. PetHonesty Salmon SkinHealth Chews
This company is a great source for all things related to your dog’s health. They provide natural supplements to combat any uncomfortable health issues, and their 90 count salmon chews do wonders for your pet’s skin. Loaded with Alaskan salmon oil, these supplements are a great source of vitamin E, DHA, and omega fatty acids that help maintain moisture in the skin while showing off a glossy coat as well. Salmon oil naturally combats coat shedding and fights inflammation to cut down on irritation.
3. Professional Pet Products Lavender AromaCare
We can’t expect you to not bathe your pet throughout the entirety of winter, but being mindful of how often you choose to bathe and with what products is imperative. Professional Pet Products has an aromatherapy line perfect for soothing your pet’s emotions as well as their skin. The Lavender shampoo uses essential oils to calm and heal skin. If you’re trying to cut down on how often you bathe your dog, the Lavender Freshening Spray is another great option! (Please keep in mind that essential oils can be harmful to pets if they are not diluted correctly and are ingested; research before creating your own homemade remedies with essential oils.)
4. Warren London Dog Hydrating Butter
Hydrating butter for your dog might seem like a luxurious product, but it does wonders for keeping skin moisturized. Warren London prides themselves on high-end spa products. Their hydrating butter can be used as a leave-in moisturizer to bring some life and elasticity back to your dog’s skin and coat. It treats irritation and dryness without leaving an oily residue and provides vital nutrients for skin health.
5. PetHonesty Advanced Allergy Skin Health Chews
We’re finishing off the list with another PetHonesty product. Their Advanced Allergy Skin Health chews go a long way in combating what could be a chronic underlying condition that only makes skin more uncomfortable. Many pets have allergies that could go unnoticed, but still create uncomfortable conditions. These chews fight chronic allergies that cause inflammation and dryness while avoiding harmful steroid prescriptions. Made with organic mushrooms, probiotics, and colostrum, they also support a healthy immune system and cut down on inflammatory responses.
No matter what’s behind your pet’s frustrating dry skin, there are a variety of methods to findind your way back to healthy, moisturized skin during the cold winter months. Avoiding the nibbling, itching, and potential wounds and infections will be a much needed relief for both you and your pet!