Best Dog Foods For Dry& Sensitive Skin in the Changing Season
The skin is the largest organ of your dog's body — which means it's also sensitive to many external factors. Parasites, environmental conditions, underlying health conditions, and even ingredients in your dog's kibble can lead to dermatological issues like dry skin.
If you've noticed that your dog is scratching more than usual or showing other signs of dry skin (such as redness and irritation), it's probably time to schedule a vet visit.
In the meantime, understanding some of the common causes of dry skin in dogs and exploring potential remedies can help dog owners stay informed and find some much-needed relief for their pups.
Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs
Just as in humans, determining the source of a dry skin problem in dogs can be a challenge because there are many potential culprits. Below, we'll highlight just a few of the most common causes. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from dry skin, remember that it's always best to consult your vet; they can help pinpoint the cause with specificity and work with you to determine a treatment plan.
Nobody wants to find parasites on their dog, but they are a common cause of skin problems — including dry skin. In more severe cases, parasites (like mites) can even cause mange, a skin disease that can lead to hair loss and flaky skin.
Some of the most common parasites in dogs that can lead to skin problems include:
- Ear mites
- Demodex mites
While some parasites can be identified with the naked eye, an official diagnosis and treatment will require a trip to your vet — so be sure to act quickly if your pet shows signs of a parasitic skin infection.
If you have environmental or seasonal allergies, you've probably experienced itchy and dry skin during allergy flare-ups. Your dog is no different. Dogs can be allergic to many of the same things as humans, with common allergens ranging from dust and mold spores to grass, feathers, and even pollen. Certain foods in your dog's diet (such as dairy, wheat, or even brown rice) could also lead to allergic reactions in the skin.
When your dog is exposed to an allergen, their immune system identifies the allergen as an invader. From there, the body produces antibodies in an effort to "attack" the allergen. These antibodies can then cause allergy symptoms like itchy or dry skin.
In some cases, underlying health conditions can also cause dry skin. Cushing's Disease (also known as Cushing Syndrome or hyperadrenocorticism), for example, occurs when a dog's adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. This disease can cause increased thirst and reduced activity levels, but it can also lead to fragile and dry skin with hair loss and recurrent skin infections.
Similarly, hypothyroidism (the inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland) in dogs can prevent the thyroid from producing enough hormones. This, in turn, can result in symptoms like anemia, weight gain, and skin problems (dry skin, hair loss, and even skin infection).
Many health conditions can be identified using a simple blood test, so scheduling a vet exam to rule out these conditions is a good idea if your dog shows signs of dry skin.
Genetic Predispositions to Dry Skin
Some dogs simply have sensitive skin and are predisposed to dry skin issues. For example, bulldogs and pugs have many skin folds prone to irritation, dryness, and even bacterial infections. Meanwhile, poodles and Shih Tzus are notorious for skin allergies.
Some other breeds that are prone to dry skin include:
- Cocker Spaniels
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin in Dogs
So, how do you know if your dog is suffering from dry skin? Sometimes, the signs are obvious. But in other cases, diagnosing dry skin can be a bit more challenging. Here are some symptoms to monitor your dog for that could indicate dry skin problems.
Flaky or Scaly Skin
Take a closer look at the skin underneath your dog's coat. If your dog has a thicker coat, you may rarely see the skin itself — but that doesn't mean your dog is immune to skin problems. As you examine your dog's skin, look specifically for a scaly or flaky appearance. Dry skin will be more prone to flaking away, either on its own or from your dog scratching at the affected area.
When examining your dog's skin, don't look just at one area. Some of the most common areas of the body for dry skin in dogs include behind the ears, on the torso, and around the base of the tail.
Itching or Scratching
One of the most obvious signs of dry skin in dogs is persistent itching or scratching at the affected areas. You may have noticed that your dog is scratching at their ears more than usual or that they seem to be overgrooming and even biting the skin on some parts of their body. In more severe cases, this may lead to visible bald patches.
Often, excessive itching or scratching is a sign that your dog is in discomfort. The source may not always be dry skin, but this is certainly a possibility worth exploring.
Redness or Inflammation
Just as in humans, dry skin in dogs is prone to becoming red and inflamed. This is especially true if your dog's skin condition is causing excessive grooming or scratching of the area, as this can cause more irritation. Depending on breed, a healthy dog's skin color should be light pink or black. If you notice that your dog's skin appears bright red or inflamed, it's probably time to explore the possibility of skin problems.
Some skin conditions, including seborrhea, can cause a dog's skin to feel dry and itchy. When your dog scratches their skin, seborrhea produces flakes with an unpleasant odor. If your dog displays other symptoms of dry skin and you've also noticed an unwelcome change in your pup's smell, an underlying skin condition could be to blame.
What To Look for in Dog Food for Dry Skin
It’s important to note that in situations where your dog's dry skin is due to an underlying health condition (like a parasitic infection or hypothyroidism), the best treatment is prescription medication, such as an anti-parasitic or antihistamine, to address the underlying condition.
However, there are some dietary adjustments that you can make to help your pup find relief from dry skin symptoms.
Some vitamins, including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B, can promote a healthier coat and skin in dogs. If your dog's food is labeled "complete and balanced" based on AAFCO standards, your pup should already be getting a proper blend of these essential vitamins.
If you need to supplement vitamins, consider these dog-friendly sources:
- Vitamin A - Carrots, spinach, sweet potato, and pumpkin
- Vitamin E - Eggs, salmon, and peanut butter
- Vitamin B - Meat (including beef and venison), poultry, and legumes
Minerals like zinc play an important role in a dog's skin health, making it possible for skin and hair cells to regenerate as they are shed. If a dog doesn't get enough zinc or other essential minerals (including magnesium, calcium, and potassium), skin health may suffer.
Nutrient-rich protein sources, like chicken and turkey, are high in zinc and other minerals that support healthy coats and skin. Leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and kale are also excellent sources of minerals.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (including EPA and DHA) are healthy fats that are not only beneficial to your dog's heart health (in proper levels), but skin and coat health as well. Specifically, these essential fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids are known to decrease inflammation within skin cells, which may help relieve itchiness and discomfort.
Fish is typically the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs. Salmon, tuna, and mackerel are especially high in these fatty acids — though they can also be given as supplements.
Fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Paw up Whole Fish Dog Treats main ingredient fish comes from pollution-free sea areas. This ensures that the fish is of high quality and safe for consumption by dogs. Our suppliers follow strict guidelines to ensure that the fish is free from any harmful contaminants or toxins. Additionally, the fish undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that it meets our high standards for quality and safety. Taurine is an essential amino acid for dogs. The combination of these two ingredients provides numerous benefits to dogs, including improved skin and coat health, increased energy levels, and a stronger immune system. These nutritious fishes are perfect for your dog, as a daily snack. They're low in calories and high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and essential minerals, making them a healthy and satisfying treat for your pet.
Coconut oil is often recommended as a natural treatment for many skin conditions in humans, but it can also benefit dogs suffering from itchy skin. When applied topically to affected areas, small amounts of liquefied coconut oil can provide much-needed moisture and relieve discomfort. It is important to note, however, that coconut oil should be gently rinsed off a dog's skin after a few minutes.
Coconut oil can also be beneficial when ingested. The medium-chain fatty acids in it can support healthy skin and coats, improve digestion, and reduce allergic reactions in dogs. You can incorporate coconut oil into your dog’s diet by mixing a small amount into their food once a day — but due to its high fat content, remember to monitor your pet closely for weight gain.
3 Great Food Options for Dogs With Dry Skin
If your vet determines that your dog's dry skin is due to food sensitivities, food allergies, or dietary deficiencies, it may be time to explore alternative food options.
Paw up Pet Food offers a few popular dog food recipes with high-quality ingredients that can support skin and coat health. And like all the food and treats we make, these foods are 100% human grade, made in the USA, and never contain any artificial preservatives, artificial colors, feed grade by-products or fillers.
1) Functional Pour Overs: Skin & Coat - PAWUP Whole Fish Dog Treats
This dog treat is a tantalizing treat for dogs of all life stages, whether as a standalone snack or poured over your dog's everyday food as a topper for dry food. With fish bone broth and wild-caught salmon as the two main ingredients, this stew is loaded with omega fatty acids, biotin, and Vitamin E to support a shiny coat and healthy skin.
2) PAWUP Cod Skins Dog Treat
For dogs sensitive to grains, our dehydrated grain-free cod skin is a great option. With dehydrated free range cod rolls as the first ingredient, all you need to do is mix in a small amount of warm water, and you'll have a high-protein meal that tastes homemade to your pup. Meanwhile, added ingredients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B, fish oil, and zinc amino acid chelate provide additional support for your pup's sensitive skin.
3) PAWUP Dog Treats Chicken Wrapped Fish
Paw up Pet Food's Chicken Wrapped Fish With Probiotics serves as a delicious and nutritious treat for puppies and adult dogs alike. Served on its own as a Nutritious Pet Supplies w/Taurine for Dogs, Organic Healthy Daily Snack, High in Protein and Omega-3, or even used to moisten dehydrated pet food, this daily booster is fortified with 1.25 billion active probiotics and digestive enzymes to support the immune system and soothe sensitive stomachs. Probiotics also help a dog's digestive system more readily absorb vitamins and nutrients, such as those that support healthy skin.
Support Your Dog's Health With Paw up Pet Food
Watching a dog suffer from dry skin can be heartbreaking, but a few proactive steps (like seeing a vet and treating any underlying medical conditions) can help relieve your dog's discomfort — including opting for a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet.
Paw up Pet Food offers a wide range of human grade dog food options to suit your pup's tastes and needs! From grain free dog food, hydrating goat’s milk, skin-supporting toppers, and more, we've got you covered. Shop our selection of human grade dog food today and read stories from real pet owners about the difference Paw up Pet Food's food can make in a dog's skin and coat health!
*Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.