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What Are the Common Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs?

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  • Written By: Lauren Romano
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Dry skin in dogs is an awful situation, especially because the animals can't verbally convey their discomfort and make themselves feel better. The constant scratching and licking can also drive their owners crazy — it's even worse when dogs have metal tags, bells or loops on their collars because they jingle whenever the dog scratches. There isn't one single reason why a dog has dry skin, and causes can include weather, parasites and allergies. In an effort to relieve the itching, regardless of the cause, the dog will bite, scratch and lick and may even rub the skin against furniture or the floor. At-home remedies may work, but often the best solution can be taking the dog to the vet to fully evaluate and treat the cause of the dry skin.

Fleas are one of the most common causes of dry skin in dogs. They are the size of the head of a pin but can cause quite a bit of itching. The flea bite as well as the saliva are what cause the itching due to an allergic reaction. The parasites are typically found on the back of the dog, by the tail and in warmer areas of the body including inner legs. Other than scratching, some of the signs include small red bumps and flea debris in the fur. Some of the best options to help control fleas include a flea bath, flea collars and sprays.

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Another cause of dry skin in dogs is an allergic reaction. As with humans, dogs can have an allergic reaction to a number of things, including new shampoo or sprays, laundry detergent, food or plants. It's important to notice when the dog first started scratching and developing signs of an allergy and dry skin. If there was anything new introduced to him, that may very well be the cause. Some of the ways to help with an allergic reaction, other than removing the cause, include giving antihistamines, using topical ointments or giving the dog a bath using special shampoo.

The weather can also be a significant cause of dry skin in dogs. Humans can experience dry skin due to certain weather conditions, especially sun, and their beloved dogs can as well. To prevent this from happening, keep the dog out of extremely sunny, windy and cold weather — each can cause the dog's skin to get red, itchy and dry and can be incredibly uncomfortable. If the dog needs to go out during extreme weather, limit the exposure as much as possible. To help ease the irritation, use pet-safe moisturizing creams.

When an owner first notices an excessive amount of dry skin in dogs, it's best to find the source and treat the condition as much as possible. Not only is the condition extremely uncomfortable for the animal, but it could get worse. The vet may be able to give advice over the phone regarding how to handle the situation, but it could require a vet visit, especially if nothing seems to help the animal. With proper treatment, the dog can rest easy, be rid of his dry skin and be back to his old self in no time.

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