Effective Home Remedies for a Dog With Dry Skin


Symptoms of Dry Skin in Dogs

Being that different ways are available which will enable you to improve the quality of your dog’s skin, we decided to mention them.

However, it is important to know the symptoms that will show you the need for treating his or her dry skin.

These are the possible problems that may develop when dry skin is not properly treated:

  • Flaking: Flaking can occur in all dogs, but it is not noticeable in a dog that has normal skin. Flaking is actually dead skin that falls off of your dog, typically noticed on the belly or underarms.
  • Dandruff: Dandruff is very similar to flaking, but dead skin comes off in pieces. What owners notice are white flakes of dead skin on the places where the dog lied down.
  • Scaling: If this is the problem, you may notice that the skin comes off in large sections.
  • Shedding: Dry skin can lead to hair loss is all over the dog’s body. sometimes, the problem may cause the dog to have spotty areas of missing hair.
  • Pimples: Pimples are small, red bumps usually found on the chin This is a common occurrence when a short-haired breed like a Rottweiler or Pug is in question. Make sure that your dog does not have canine acne, which is not the problem of dry skin.
  • Scabs: After the swelling of pimples swell, they tend to break open when your dog itches and they may scab up.
  • Redness: Red skin is a sign of inflammation of dry skin, which can easily become infected and inflamed.
  • Odor: Your dog’s dry skin can begin to stink. This happens due to a bacterial or yeast infection. Our suggestion is not to ignore dry skin when it is just flaking and scaling, but treat it at once, as it can lead to more serious issues which can cause odor.
  • Itching: In many cases, dry skin is not noticed until the dog becomes itchy. If the dog continues to scratch, he/she will need to be treated.

The Most Important Change for Dry Skin Is Dietary

What is considered as the most effective in case your dog’s skin is dry is changing his diet, meaning that you start giving it real food.

We need to mention that the largest retailers of dog food actually are those that sell the most dog food because their product is not expensive, but in the majority of cases, these dog foods are lacking in many nutrients.

These nutrients are important to keep your dog’s skin from drying out.

What Kind of Food Does Your Dog Need?

Each and every dog, and especially the one that is prone to dry skin needs a raw diet.

This kind of diet provides essential nutrients and oils which are necessary for the dog’s health and skin quality.

The diet should include raw, meaty bones that will give your dog essential nutrients to keep his skin healthy, such as essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Ingredient List for Raw Dog Food to Improve Skin

About 50% Raw Meat and Bones

Which meaty bones you use are not at all important if your dog does not have any allergies.

If you really want to know what your dog is eating and how healthy it is for your dog, we need to note that grass-fed beef is excellent.

You can always ask your butcher to give you those cheap cuts of other animals that humans do not eat, such as tails, etc.

Chicken carcasses are a good source of vitamins and other nutrients and chicken wings can be bought for not so high prices.

Chicken necks are known to have a lot of fat, but you need to remove the skin and feed them with something else if you decide to give them to your dog.

On the other hand, chicken feet are low in fat but are known to be a great source of calcium, and glucosamine which is important for your dog’s joints.

  • Source: Grass-fed beef, cheap cuts (tails), chicken carcasses (wings, necks, and feet).

About 25% Soft Meat

The meat you give to your dog has to be less than half bone.

If this is not the case, you should add a little meat to the diet.

  • Source: Beef tongue, beef heart, beef cheeks, and other sources that are inexpensive.

About 10% Organ Meats

Just giving your dog any meat is not a solution.

You need to vary what kind of meat you give your dog.

Still, you can always ask your butcher to sell you the animal parts that he cannot sell to people.

  • Source: Kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen, etc.

About 10% Vegetables

Many dog owners do not give vegetables to their dogs, as sometimes dogs reject to eat them.

It is true that giving vegetables is not absolutely necessary, but you should give at least 10 % of the diet.

This of course depends on what your dog likes, and they mostly eat vegetables if they are mixed with the other ingredients.

In some cases, owners are so eager to give them vegetables that they put them through a blender and make them as fine as the contents of a cow’s stomach.

Have in mind that if you do not blend them finely, they will simply go through the dog without being digested.

Cheap sources like potatoes, rice, and grains are not good sources for your dog.

  • Source: Broccoli, spinach, other dark, leafy vegetables, and carrots.

Miscellaneous Items to Incorporate in the Raw Diet

Several Raw Eggs Weekly (Shells Included)

Raw eggs can be added to your dog’s diet when you mix the vegetables.

You can mix some meat at the same time, and even add the blood so as to improve palatability.


What fruit you will be giving to your dog will highly depend on your location.

If you cannot find something available, it is not considered a necessity.

You can always add some fruit to the dog’s vegetable and egg mix.

It has been noticed that dogs like eating the mix if the fruit is included.

  • Source: Papaya, avocado, and banana.


Only fresh fish should be given to your dog once a week.

Our suggestion is to give him/her fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel and sardines.

  • Source: Mackerel and sardines.


A raw diet is enough source of all nutrients and supplements like probiotics are not suggested.

Providing some extra omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in a fish oil supplement, is suggested but only if fish cannot be provided, or if your dog has health problems.

hip dysplasia, luxating patella, etc. requires adding extras like vitamin C.

Homemade Cooked Dog Food.

In case you cannot provide a healthy, raw diet for your dog, you can always give him/her a homemade cooked diet.

Dr. Pitcairn’s “Titan’s Diet”

Dr. Pitcairn, in his book, offers several options for dogs with skin problems.

We provide you with his “Doggie Oats” recipe and it consists of:

  • 5 cups of raw oats
  • 3 pounds of turkey
  • 1 cup of vegetables
  • Supplements (brewers yeast, bone meal, and vitamin E)

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

A vegetarian cooked diet is taken as a healthy option, but it should not be considered a substitute for the raw diet.

Dr. Pitcairn also offers some vegetarian diets in his book, as well as vegan diets available from other sources.

The chickpea diet is a good one, but the omega-3 fatty acids have to be supplemented.

AAFCO Labeled Dog Food Brands

Feeding your dog with cheap commercial dog food will make your dog have dry skin. Our suggestion is definitely the AAFCO-approved diets labeled “sensitive skin” and “healthy skin”, but you need to have in mind that they might not help.

AAFCO is a voluntary organization and cannot fully identify 100% of the ingredients.

Managing Your Dog’s Dry Skin

  • Brush your dog daily: Those owners who have noticed that their dog’s skin is dry, start brushing him/her every day. If you are not doing that, you should start, as brushing will help to remove dead skin and will distribute the inflammatory cells. It is worth mentioning that providing your dog brushing is not the only thing that should be done. Brushing only helps the skin clear up quickly but you must provide other therapies, as well.
  • Bathe your dog: A bath should be done with a shampoo that will help moisturize the skin and relieve itching. The one that is suggested in the case of dry skin is a colloidal oatmeal shampoo. Oatmeal-based shampoos are great due to the fact that they contain polyphenols and the antioxidants avenanthramides. These ingredients have an anti-inflammatory effect and relieve itching. Have in mind that shampoos are designed so that they strip the skin of some of their protective oils.  This means that if your dog needs bathing just to get rid of some dirt, use plain water.
  • Soothe your dog’s skin with a dry shampoo: A dog with dry skin will be in need of a little itch relief. Providing a bath frequently is not a solution, you can use dry oatmeal shampoo. What you can do is use some regular oatmeal and blend it to become a fine powder. Use that powder to massage it into the itchy areas. You can also warm the paste a few minutes before using it. This is suggested being that more of the oatmeal’s oils will be released thus the therapy will be more helpful. Then, the powder should be left on your dog’s skin for about 20 minutes before combing it out.  It can be done every day if your dog needs it and if it is beneficial to him/her.
  • Apply apple cider vinegar: Even though there are no studies that can prove that apple cider vinegar (ACV)  helps dry skin, people who have used it claim all its benefits. If it is given orally, it acts as a natural acidifier, thus increasing blood flow to the skin. In case it is given topically, it will improve the flora on your dog’s skin and will decrease the yeast populations on your dog’s skin. Its main benefit is that it replaces bad bacteria with a healthier bacterial population.
  • Bathe them in Epsom salt: Epsom salt should be used when a dog has swollen feet, but it should not be used for dry skin. It was found helpful with open sores and it is a great remedy if your dog has been itching and has scratched himself deeply. Adding about a half cup of salts to his bathwater will be enough, but it is necessary that you rinse it off after bathing.
  • Cover affected areas with baking powder: Some owners suggest making a baking powder paste. This paste is beneficial if applied to the inflamed and itchy parts of your dog’s skin. It should consist of half water and half baking soda and has to be applied right to the area. You should leave it on for about 15 minutes and then make sure that you have cleaned it off with cool water.
  • Add eucalyptus essential oil to the shampoo: We consider it important to mention that some dangerous cases were recorded of misuse involving essential oils, but it is still considered helpful if used properly. Eucalyptus oil is definitely the safest and most effective oil, while pennyroyal or evening primrose oil is also suggested by some veterinarians. You need to have in mind that essential oils are not a cure. What you can do is add the oil to the shampoo, and its anti-inflammatory properties will help diminish itching. When using this shampoo for the first time, you have to try it on one small spot so as to check for allergies.
  • Soak your dog in herbs after his bath: If itching persists even after a bath of colloidal oatmeal, our suggestion is to try using an herbal soak. After rinsing, fill the tub with warm water, and add a few liters of green or chamomile tea. This warm liquid can be poured on your dog’s skin as he/she sits in the tub, and he/she should be left there for about 15 minutes.

Home Remedies for Dry Skin in Dogs

The majority of dogs with dry skin will recover after using omega-3 fatty acids and coconut oil, there are also a few dogs that will require additional remedies.

Here are some of them that you may find helpful:

  • Yogurt: This is a moisturizer that also contains “good” bacteria. It is good to give your dog yogurt for the improvement of the skin. A small amount, that is one teaspoon, is enough for a small dog, while one tablespoon is supposed to be given to a larger dog each day.  Those “good” bacteria will improve your dog’s GI system and keep him from developing diarrhea.
  • Add fish oil to the diet: Dry skin can show the dog owner that something is missing from the diet, and this is especially the case when dogs are fed with those foods that are cheaper, yet have less healthy ingredients. The commercial dog foods that contain enough omega-6 fatty acids are more expensive. But still, commercial diets that are labeled “omega-3 added” are not going to be an ideal solution for your dog. The amount of omega 3 added is insignificant and if you wish to help your dog with dry skin, you should feed fresh fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines or supplement with liquid fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids will help clear up dry skin.
  • Try coconut oil: Dry skin can be treated with coconut oil. This has several advantages, due to the fact that it has high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. Not only can you moisturize dry spots, but can also use it as a supplement in your dog’s food.
  • Use vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. It will moisturize the coat and in some dogs, the relief is immediate. Owners are sometimes suggested to buy the capsules labeled for humans, then squeeze them out and apply them right to the dry skin. After rubbing it in, the vitamin absorbs pretty quickly, and even if your dog licks it off, its heart and liver will only benefit from it. Of course, prior to applying it, you need to check with your vet as using human products on a pup is not always suggested.
  • Give other oils: There are veterinarians who recommend olive oil first, which is known to have the same benefits as coconut oil.  It can be used as a moisturizer and a source of vitamins. When this oil is in question, you need to use the appropriate dosage and recommendations are similar to yogurt. Other vets also recommend flaxseed oil, but a lower dose should be given, about ½ teaspoon for a small dog.

Are the Dry Skin Supplements Going to Make My Dog Sick?

Giving too many supplements to your dog can definitely cause problems.

Nobody should intake excessive fatty acids which can lead to loose stools, or much coconut oil or olive oil that will make a dog fat.

What you can do is switching your dog’s diet and bathe him in colloidal oatmeal.

If everything is okay, you can add fish oil to his diet, but only once a day.

Another option is to use apple cider vinegar the next day and then vitamin E the following day.

That way you will be able to notice the problems that your dog might have with any of the supplements and can stop administering them.

Additional Remedies for Dogs With Dry Skin

If you have tried all the effective therapies mentioned above and none of them helped with your dog’s dry skin, you may try these additional remedies.

Use a Homemade Moisturizer

You may be asking yourself why you cannot treat your dog’s problem with dry skin with cream.

This is impossible due to the fact that dogs often lick it off.

We advise the usage of pure coconut oil.

It is considered the best option because it will improve your dog’s coat quality even though it has been licked off.

Another suggestion is an oatmeal paste, being that it does not affect your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

The oatmeal paste contains saponins that are ideal for cleaning the skin down to the pores.

This is how you should use oatmeal paste:

  • Combine half oatmeal and half water
  • Mix it up until it is thick
  • Apply it and sit with your dog for about 15 minutes
  • Remove it with clean tap water

Purchase a Humidifier for Your Home

In case you are ready to purchase a humidifier for your home, you will provide a big help for your dog.

Due t low humidity which is related to central heating and air conditioning makes problems with dry skin even worse.

Inside dogs are more prone to this problem, unlike outdoor dogs.

We suggest that your dog stops eating commercially produced dry dog food, being that it is probably lacking the nutrients he needs, thus, causing its skin to be unhealthy.

We have to say that if you have noticed your dog itching, then a humidifier is a good option.

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