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'dry-skin-in-dogs

Dry Skin in Dogs


by Lauren Samet
06/08/2018


One of the most visible signs of health in dogs is the quality of their coat, however, all too often; dry skin can have a negative impact. Signs of dry skin in dogs can include a dull, greasy or lacklustre coat, visible dandruff-like flakes or changes in texture. 

But what causes dry skin, and what can you do to resolve such issues?


Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs

The skin covers a huge area, and can, therefore, be affected by many potential issues in the body. Some of the most common causes for dry skin in dogs include:

•    Nutrition – Dry skin is often linked to a lack of correct nutrients in the diet. Dogs require a balance of fatty acids together with vitamins and minerals such as zinc and vitamin E to support healthy skin. A complete diet should be supportive of this when fed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.  

•    Hormones – Certain hormones can be dependent on cholesterol or fat in the diet. These hormones are needed to ensure healthy sebum production, which in turn prevents dry skin. Spaying or neutering a dog can sometimes cause changes in hormone levels. On occasion, this can lead to changes in skin and coat condition.

•    Fleas and Mange – The damage and inflammation caused by certain parasites can lead to dry and itchy.

•    Disease – Heart disease and diabetes can impact the circulatory system, which is essential for healthy skin maintenance. Alternatively, other diseases such as hypothyroidism can lead to hormone imbalance and changes in sebum production.

•    Allergies – Examples can include reactions to environmental factors or certain dietary ingredients.

•    Hydration Status – Just like us, dehydration can lead to short-term skin dryness. To avoid this, dogs should always have access to fresh clean drinking water. Be aware that it can take time for signs of improvement to show in the skin after rehydration. A great way to check the hydration status of your dog is to gently pinch the scruff of the neck to see how quickly and fluidly it returns to its original state. In properly hydrated dogs this return should be almost instant.

•    Bathing Frequency – Bathing your dog too often can lead to the removal of natural oils from the coat. If a vet has recommended a medicated shampoo, however, then be sure to follow their advice on bathing frequency.


Symptoms of Dry Skin

Common symptoms of dry skin in dogs can include:

•    Skin flakes, scurf or dander in the coat (dandruff)
•    Itchiness or scratching – Dry skin often feels tighter because it has less suppleness. This can also lead to hair loss*
•    Cracks, dry-to-touch or tight, inflamed skin.

*any signs of hair loss are worth veterinary inspection in case its cause is fungal or parasitic e.g. ringworm.


Diagnoses of Dry Skin

If you’re unsure of the cause of a dog’s dry skin its best to seek veterinary advice to find out more information. A vet can usually tell whether your dog requires a scraping, biopsy or allergy test to refine the likely cause. Alternatively, some situations may benefit from a topical treatment to address the issue. If these options do not satisfy your vet then they may wish to take a blood sample or perform a urinary analysis to investigate the cause further. 


Treatment & Management of Dry Skin

If your dog is prone to dry skin it may be that he or she is genetically more susceptible to such issues. If this is the case then it may be worth keeping a record of any changes in their environment, diet or stress levels to see if there are any obvious triggers. Knowing what’s “normal” for your dog, in terms of its behaviour, skin and coat condition, will help your vet to identify the likely factors responsible.

Your vet may recommend a soothing or moisturising topical application for the skin or bathing the dog with a special type of shampoo. Over-bathing your dog is not recommended but a bath now and again could assist with skin health depending on coat type.


Diet & Supplementation

If your vet thinks a nutritional imbalance is to blame for your dog’s dry skin then it may be time to consider a different diet. Complete dog foods should provide all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your pet needs. However, it is possible that your dog does not get on with a certain flavour or ingredient in their food, in which case a change may be advisable.

If you are happy with your dog’s diet then using an additional supplement to support skin and coat health is also an option. For example, Vitapaws Evening Primrose Oil for Dogs is a great source of omega 6 fatty acids, specifically gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is recognised as supporting healthy skin and coat in dogs. This can be particularly beneficial as dogs cannot produce GLA themselves, so it should be present in their diet. 

Alternatively, Vitapaws Advanced Coat & Skin for Dogs contains vitamin E, biotin and zinc, together with fish oil and flaxseed oil powders to provide a source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

If you have any further questions about the range or your dog’s dry skin then feel free to contact the Vitapaws customer care line on 0845 8630 622 or by clicking here.

References
Bauer, J.J.E., 2008. Essential fatty acid metabolism in dogs and cats. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 37(SPE), pp.20-27.
Campbell, K. L., & Davis, C. A. (1990). Effects of thyroid hormones on serum and cutaneous fatty acid concentrations in dogs. American journal of veterinary research, 51(5), 752-756.
Case, L.P., Daristotle, L., Hayek, M.G. and Raasch, M.F., 2010. Canine and Feline Nutrition-E-Book: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Remillard, R.L., 2008. Homemade diets: attributes, pitfalls, and a call for action. Topics in companion animal medicine, 23(3), pp.137-142.
Scarff, D. H., & Lloyd, D. H. (1992). Double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of evening primrose oil in the treatment of canine atopy. The Veterinary record, 131(5), 97-99.
Verlinden, A., Hesta, M., Millet, S. and Janssens, G.P.J., 2006. Food allergy in dogs and cats: a review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 46(3), pp.259-273.
Watson, T.D., 1998. Diet and skin disease in dogs and cats. The Journal of nutrition, 128(12), pp.2783S-2789S.
 


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