Winter Dry Skin Causes & Treatment
For some dogs, winter is the worst time of year for dry skin. When you think about it, most people have more issues with dry skin during the winter months than they do in other times of the year. Winter skin irritation can be quite common, especially if you live in an area where there are cold temperatures, low humidity, snow, and ice. Your local vet can provide you with seasonal pet tips at your next check-up. However, if you feel that your dog’s dry skin needs a natural immediate boost try our PetStrips today with 25% off using promo code “Strips14” at checkout on any of our products!
Why Winter is So Dry
You might not expect winter to be such a dry season for your dog’s skin, but there are some factors that contribute to this phenomenon. Outdoor winter weather can leave paws flaky, irritated, and even raw. Excessive grooming and scratching can be a sign that your dog’s skin is dry as well. There are a number of reasons for itchy, dry skin, including exposure to winter weather, low humidity indoors due to heaters and lack of fresh air, as well as your dog’s response to the cold weather. Seasonal tips often include protecting your dog’s feet from snow, ice, and de-icing chemicals, which can really damage their pads and the sensitive skin between their toes.
Parasitic infections, skin allergies, and immune response to the environment are some other common causes of winter skin irritations. If the simple things that you do at home to prevent dry skin or help to overcome it do not help, consider adding a supplement to your pets diet. Your local vet has lots of experience in this area and can help make a noticeable improvement in your dog’s health. Since most dogs need to go outdoors several times each day, simply avoiding the weather is not possible. In addition to dry skin, the lower humidity found in homes this time of year can also contribute to upper respiratory problems as well.
What is Contact Dermatitis?
If your dog goes outdoors frequently in the winter and still enjoys his daily walk, contact dermatitis might be the cause of dry, irritated, and even inflamed skin. When direct contact is made with a substance that causes irritation, it can lead to a condition known as contact dermatitis. The biggest culprit in the north/north-east is salt and other de-icing chemicals, which are used to clear driveways, walkways, and streets. Even if you do not use it yourself, a quick walk around the block can expose your dog to it several times. However, it is not just outdoors substances that can lead to irritation. Even the fibers in carpet, blankets, and furniture can lead to contact dermatitis. So, if your dog is spending more time indoors during the winter, the indoor irritants could be causing him to have problems.
Parasites & Infections in Winter
While most people think that parasites are only a fair weather problem, the truth is that fleas, mites, and other parasites can still bother your dog in the winter. They do not just die off when it gets cold and, if left untreated, they can spread to other animals and even human members of your household. Some dogs are even allergic to fleas, so as long as there are fleas present in your home, they could be afflicted. There are a variety of solutions designed to work for your problem. Some parasites can lead to skin infections and even internal issues. Fungal infections can also be a problem, such as yeast or ringworm infections, which can also occur year-round. If you suspect a parasitic infestation or an infection of any kind, take your pet to your vet hospital for a check-up.
What Your Vet Needs to Know
If you take your dog in for a veterinary check-up, make sure to provide your vet team with all of the information they need to diagnose and treat your pet properly. If you have made any changes in your pet’s environment, such as new shampoos, fabric softeners for blankets, bedding, or have brought home a new pet, speak up. If your pet has been exposed to any chemicals, plants, or has eaten food that he does not normally eat, say something.
What You Can Do At Home
Bathing & Grooming
This might not seem like a “natural” remedy, but if your dog suffers from environmental allergies, frequent bathing and grooming is going to offer much needed comfort. Using soothing ingredients such as oatmeal in the shampoos will help your dog’s skin feel softer and will relieve the itching they feel. Depending on the severity of your dog’s allergies, bathing once a week will greatly improve your dog’s condition. Brushing and combing will also help remove dead skin and coat, promoting new growth and removing allergens on top of the skin and fur.
Feed a Wholesome Diet
Your dog’s diet might be completely overlooked if your dog only suffers environmental allergens. But the more natural your dog’s diet, the better their bodies are able to fight off and heal from allergies and external stressors. If your dog is allergic to certain ingredients, you will want to avoid those ingredients and replace them with something else. Grain-free diets are highly recommended for dogs with any type of allergy (or no allergy at all!) but if this is not possible, consider feeding organic, whole grains. The better your dog’s nutrition, the better their overall health and their ability to fight off allergens. Note that if your dog is currently eating exclusively dry dog food (kibble) there is a very good chance they are not getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet; see below.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider offers many benefits to dogs suffering from allergies. If your dog has hot spots or itchy skin, you can apply a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water to your dog. Put the solution in a spray bottle for easy use. This same spray will help repel fleas and ticks – a common allergen for many dogs. You can also use it to clean out your dog’s ears. The acidity of the mixture makes for an environment that yeast cannot live in, and yeast infections are typically caused by allergies. Make sure that the acidity is not too strong for your dog, some prefer a different mixture than the 50/50 suggested.
Manage Heat & Moisture
Your dog’s environment plays a large role in the health of their skin. Be sure to keep your home appropriately cooled and use a humidifier in dry conditions. When grooming, avoid using a high heat blow dryer, which might be faster but wreaks havoc on your dog’s sensitive skin. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, filtered water. Dogs on a dry kibble diet are in need of more moisture in their diets than dogs that eat a home-cooked, raw, or wet food diet.
Consider Applying Calendula
Calendula is a member of the sunflower family and offers several benefits to dogs with allergies. Either made into a tea or gel, applying calendula to your dog’s skin will help relieve inflammation from allergies. It also has natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties. It also helps improve your dog’s immune system when taken internally, so consider this as an allergy treatment as well.
Add Omega Fatty Acids Supplementation
Omega fatty acids are extremely beneficial to dogs with dry skin & allergies. These oils help improve your dog’s skin and coat by keeping the natural oils present in healthy amounts. Omegas also work as anti-inflammatories and greatly reduce the intensity of allergens. There are many Omega fatty acid supplements on the market, and you’ll want to look for something that works quickly to support a soft, silky coat, minimize normal shedding, and maintain the skin’s normal moisture content, such as our Skin and Seasonal Allergies.
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