By Andrea Servadio
‘Tis the season for dry skin and chapped lips! Cold temperatures, low humidity, and heated indoor spaces are the three main culprits that cause skin to become inflamed, itchy, and dry. Unfortunately for our furry friends, it’s not just people who suffer––your dog can too. In fact, dogs suffer from dry skin as much and as often as people do.
Here are some tips to combat that harmful effects of winter weather on your dog’s skin:
1. Reduce the frequency of baths. Bathing your dog washes away essential oils that help to moisturize their skin. If your dog was getting a bath once a week, reduce the frequency to every two to three weeks. When you do bathe your dog, use a shampoo that contains moisturizing ingredients like oatmeal and shea butter. (We like Richard’s Organic Moisturizing Shampoo, which is safe for dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens, and contains soothing ingredients like echinacea and sweet almond oil).
2. Use a soft brush daily. Brushing your dog spreads around the natural oils to moisturize his coat and skin. Buy a soft bristle brush (such as the FURminator Soft Slicker Brush) and use it daily to brush away dry skin and shine the coat.
3. Give a daily omega supplement. Omega fatty acids help nourish the skin and coat to reduce itching, irritation and skin allergies. Talk to your veterinarian about which supplement is right for your dog.
4. Apply tea tee oil to affected areas. Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial treatment that reduces inflammation, and in turn, reduces itching and irritation. Use a diluted product on affected areas to relieve pain, swelling, and itching.
NOTE: Undiluted or raw tea tree oil is poisonous for dogs. Only buy diluted tea tree products like shampoos, hot spot treatments, etc. Ask your veterinarian for their preferred brand so you can make sure the oil you buy is harmless.
5. Apply paw rub. Paw rubs, like Musher’s Secret, create a barrier to harsh outdoor conditions and prevent paws from drying and cracking. For prevention, use before every walk, or whenever your dog will be spending more than a few minutes outside. For treatment, use every day until affected area looks and feels better. If you’re feeling crafty, here is a recipe for DIY protective paw wax.
6. Use a humidifier. Indoor heat (regardless of the type of heating system) reduces humidity and wicks much-needed moisture away from the skin. Humidifiers can ease dry skin symptoms for both dogs and people. Set one up near your dog’s bed, or in an area they spend a lot of time.
7. Keep your dog hydrated. Just like people, drinking more water improves skin hydration. Make sure fresh water is always available, especially when your dog is exercising.
Follow these tips and this winter your dog can stay hydrated, moisturized, and itch-free!
Andrea Servadio is a dog lover and co-owner of Fitdog Sports Club in Santa Monica, California.