Pet Wellness Guides > Dry Skin on a Dog: Causes and Treatments - Pet Insurance Review

Dry Skin on a Dog: Causes and Treatments

Posted: 04/14/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

Dry skin on a dog can be incredibly frustrating for pups and their parents alike. What causes dry skin on dogs and what can be done about it? These are the questions we’ll explore in this blog post. Let’s get scratching!

dry skin on a dog

What Causes Dry Skin on a Dog?

Dry skin may seem like a mere irritant, but it can potentially point to a much larger health issue going on with your dog. The following are some of the most common root causes of dry skin on a dog:


Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies to foods and environmental agents like dust, pollen, flea saliva and more! If left untreated, allergies can lead to a skin condition called ‘atopic dermatitis’ which causes dry itchy skin and red, inflamed patches. Often, the scratching from atopic dermatitis leads to secondary skin infections.

By far the most common skin disorder in dogs in this country is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. The best way to keep your pup free from developing this condition is to keep her and your home free and clear of fleas. Talk to your vet about recommendations for the right flea and tick solutions for your pup.


Another common cause of dry skin on a dog is parasites. There are certain parasites, such as the Demodex mite, which can cause mange, which in turn causes dry, flaky skin. Canine scabies, cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff) and lice are also common parasites that cause dry skin.

In order to get a proper diagnosis of parasites, you’ll definitely have to take your pup in to see your vet. If necessary, your vet may refer you to a pet dermatology specialist who will determine the best treatment for your dog’s itchy skin.

treating your dog's dry skin


Bacterial and fungal infections are notorious for causing a variety of skin issues in dogs. Vets typically diagnose skin infections by taking a sample (scraping the skin) for cytology. It’s important to mention that some infections, such as the fungal infection Ringworm, is transmissible to humans.

Systemic Disorders

Sometimes dry skin is a sign of a much larger issue going on. For instance, two main metabolic diseases associated with dry skin on a dog are Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. In both cases, dry skin is also usually accompanied by dry and brittle hair, hair loss, skin infections and other symptoms. Auto-immune diseases and cancer can also cause dry skin on a dog.

Other Causes Of Dry Skin on a Dog

Of course there are those times when dry skin on a dog is caused by environmental conditions such as cold, wintry weather that tends to have dryer air,  excessive bathing or using harsh soaps. Sometimes poor nutrition can also be a cause of dry skin. If you think your pup’s dry skin may be a result of nutritional deficiencies, bathing habits or environmental factors, it’s still a good idea to bring her into the vet to rule out a more serious condition.

The bottom line is, if your dog is constantly scratching, you shouldn’t take it lightly. Dry skin can be a small issue or a sign of a bigger issue. Your best bet is to take your pup into the vet to get checked out.

dry skin on a dog

Treating Dry Skin on a Dog

How you go about treating dry skin on your pup will depend entirely on the cause. This is why consulting with your vet is so important. You may think all your dog needs is a good oatmeal shampoo. But that won’t help if your dog has mites or another serious illness.

As mentioned, often dry skin is a symptom of a larger issue, and in this case, your vet will treat both the dry skin and the underlying condition. Demadex mange (secondary demodicosis) is often associated with Cushing’s disease. So in this instance your vet would treat the mange and the underlying Cushing’s disease.

When it comes to treating allergies, it can be a bit trickier. If your pup is allergic to a specific food, your vet may recommend an elimination diet. The most common ingredients that cause food allergies in dogs are beef, soy, corn, wheat, dairy, chicken, and eggs.

While environmental allergies can be tested for, there really are no cures. The typical treatments for these are either to avoid the allergen, control the symptoms, or do immunotherapy treatments such as allergy shots. Many vets will try a combination of all three treatments to bring relief.

Other various treatment options may include using humidifiers around the house and trying a vet-approved shampoo. And finally, if your vet decides the dry skin is a result of a poor diet, get her recommendation for a high-quality food that will get your pup’s skin and overall health back to where it needs to be.

Get Help with Your Vet Bills

We never know what life is going to throw at us. One day you notice your dog seems to be itching more and the next day you’re getting a diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease or hypothyroidism, both of which will require ongoing medications and treatments. And all of these can really add up and you’re suddenly tapping into your life savings.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You would never be without health insurance yourself, so why not get a pet health insurance plan so you can get some financial help should a major accident or illness arise. Some plans will actually reimburse you for up to 90% of the bill.

Get coverage – and peace of mind – today.

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  1. “Dry Skin on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment”
  2. “How to Deal With Dog Dry Skin: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments”



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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