Cold winter weather and low humidity can cause your skin to become dry, flaky and uncomfortable. The same thing can happen to your dog’s skin, too. Just as you may take extra steps to keep your skin healthy when the weather turns cool, your canine companion’s skin and coat may need a little extra care as well.
In fact, many of the same remedies you use can help prevent and treat skin problems in your dog too.
Shampoo less often
Your dog may require frequent baths in the spring and summer, but it’s best to cut back on bath time during winter months.
Soaps and shampoos strip skin of its natural oils and can dry it out, causing flaky, itchy skin. Often, this can lead to dandruff — dead skin cells that are visible on your dog’s fur — which can be uncomfortable for your pet.
If you must bathe your dog, try a simple water bath or use a shampoo for sensitive skin. If your dog’s skin is irritated, try an oatmeal bath or moisturizing shampoo.
Keep your dog groomed
Using a soft brush on your dog’s coat will remove dead skin cells, improve blood circulation and stimulate hair follicles to release natural oils. Brushing daily will also prevent tangles and mats from developing.
If your dog has long hair, keep his fur trimmed to minimize the accumulation of ice, salt and deicing chemicals, which can irritate skin. Don't forget to trim between those furry toes.
Eat a healthy diet
If your dog’s skin is easily irritated during winter, talk to your veterinarian about trying a special diet or taking dietary supplements. Adequate levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for healthy skin.
Drink plenty of water
Your dog burns more energy trying to stay warm during winter, so it’s easy to become dehydrated. Make sure you pet’s water dish is always full, and if it’s kept outside, use a plastic water bowl so that when the temperature drops, your pet's tongue doesn't stick to the dish.
Create a comfortable indoor environment
Make sure your home is comfortable for you and your dog all winter long by using a humidifier to combat dry air. Also, avoid using deodorizers or other scented or chemical products that can cause irritation.
If these steps don’t help your dog, or if your pet is scratching excessively and damaging his skin, see your veterinarian.