My Dog Has Dry Flaky Skin And Scabs – Is It Pruritus?

by Sarah | Last Updated: May 4, 2021
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My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs, and I found several reasons for this condition and some easy cures.

Dry dog skin is called Pruritus. Pruritus, the medical term for itchy dry skin, is the second most likely reason for vet visits. Luckily, the most common causes of dry, itchy skin in pets are easily treatable.

Dog dry skin is relatively easy to recognize. If you look through your dog’s hair and see dandruff in the undercoat, or see the skin appears cracked, then your dog’s coat is dried out.

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While petting your dog, they may start scratching uncontrollably with compulsive licking and gnawing at an area is also a sure sign your dog is dealing with this problem. Most dog owners figure it is fleas and get a flea collar.

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Itchy Black Labrador Dog Use His Leg to Scratch His Body

Figuring out what is causing your dog to be so itchy all of a sudden when it first begins can save your pet from long-term problems. If it is dandruff you will want to learn how to get rid of dog dandruff with ease.

My Dog Has Dry Flaky Skin and Scabs

Dry, flaky skin and scabs on your dog may be a sign of bacterial folliculitis. Your dog will have dry, flaky skin with sores and scabs. Both shorthair and longhair dogs can get folliculitis.  A simple way to describe folliculitis in dogs is that it is dog acne. Bacterial builds in the hair follicles, resulting in the formation of a pimple or redness. It usually will go away in two weeks, but your dog can irritate it by biting, scratching, and licking the area.

Topical lotions, creams, and sprays are the common treatment for this type of dry dog skin.

What Can I Put On My Dog For Dry Skin

german shepherd lying on sidewalk - my dog has dry flaky skin and scabs

A common problem for many pet owners is their dog suffering from dry skin. Recognizing and diagnosing what is causing your pet’s dry skin may require a vet’s evaluation. The solution can be as easy as a more regular grooming schedule or a diet change, or a more complicated regiment to cure.

Once the cause of your dog’s itchy skin is found, you can start treatment and help your pet feel comfortable in their skin again.

My Dog Is Always Scratching But Doesn’t Have Fleas

There are three leading causes of dog skin issues are:

  1. Low Humidity
  2. Diet
  3. Allergies
  4. Dermatitis (dog hot spots)

Let’s explore these dog skin issues one by one.

1. Low Humidity

People and their animal companions can both suffer from dry skin during the winter months. Turning your furnace on may keep your family warm and toasty, but it can also dry out your skin in the process.

Adding a humidifier to your home could also help soothe your pet’s itchy dry skin and could be beneficial to you as well! This dry skin is typically a problem of dry dog skin in the winter.

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Some would assume a nice soothing bath can fix the problem, but the opposite is true. Bathing can cause further drying of the skin for your pet. This is also seen in dry dog noses. Dogs produce natural oils from their skin that moisturize and keep their skin and fur healthy.

Dog Shampoo For Dry Skin

Shampoo strips this oil and causes further drying. If a bath is necessary, make sure to use a moisturizing shampoo, or add a moisturizer to your pet’s skin after. Medicated shampoo, suggested by your veterinarian and specially formulated for your pet’s needs, is an option that could be explored in helping treat and alleviate the symptoms.

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2. Dog Diet

Dry commercial dog food can be a factor in your pet developing dry skin as the natural oils are processed. Dry dog food can also dehydrate your dog and cause them to be thirstier as a result.

Adding a dietary supplement such as flaxseed oil, fish oil, or nutritional yeast will provide health benefits to your dog if you feed them a dry food diet. Dietetic supplements help improve your pet’s digestive system, and a healthy digestive system absorbs nutrients and fluids more readily.

Feeding a wet food or homemade diet could also help, as the moisture content is higher and can help hydrate your pup and their skin. Making sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times is also essential in combating dehydration and the resulting dry skin.

Best Dog Food For Dry Skin

German Shepherds, Standard Poodles, Malamutes, and Huskies are a few dog breeds that are susceptible to heat rash and hot spots caused by a buildup of excess fur, especially in warmer climates.

Dogs shed their extra hair naturally, but the hair they shed can become trapped in their undercoat, only coming loose when they scratch, shake, and rub it off. Regular brushing and grooming are a requirement in these long-haired breeds and helps prevent skin issues from arising in the first place.

3. Dog Allergies

Allergies can also cause dry skin in your pup. Allergies can develop due to the environment, diet, or a plethora of other factors. Treatment for allergies can run the gamut from diet changes to daily medications, such as an antihistamine, to combat the symptoms.

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Adding a probiotic to your dog’s diet could also be beneficial in fighting allergies. Clinical research has proven that adding high potency probiotics to a puppy’s diet severely reduces that puppy’s likelihood of developing allergies later in life. At any age, probiotics can help reduce allergy symptoms and are a low-cost, safe option to try.

4. Dermatitis in dogs

Dog dermatitis is often called a hot spot. A dog hot spot is a small area of inflammation that may ooze, is usually red, and is very painful. Hot spots are caused by food allergies and external parasites like lice, mites, and ticks.

These hot spots are medically called acute moist dermatitis caused by your dog licking, chewing, and scratching the affected area.

Untreated Atopic Dermatitis can also develop into hot spots. Atopic dermatitis in dogs is an immune system overreaction to allergens. These allergens can be airborne like dust or ingesting something they are allergic to, causing skin inflammation or hot spots.

Your dog’s skin issue may be atopic dermatitis if your dog has frequent ear infections, runny nose, or crusty eyes. These are chronic symptoms that can not be cured but can be effectively managed.

A secondary bacterial infection can occur if treatment is not quickly administered. Luckily, the condition is easily treatable but will not go away on its own.

Dog Hot Spot Treatment

Your best option to treat dog hot spots is to visit your veterinarian.

Home remedies can include essential oils, medicated shampoos, and antifungal medications. If a bacterial infection breaks out, your vet will prescribe an antibacterial medicine.

What About An Oatmeal Bath for dogs?

An oatmeal soak may relieve itchy dog skin for a short-term natural remedy. Applying the oatmeal to the inflamed area will be very sensitive and painful for your dog. You will then need to rinse the oatmeal off. You may find it to be simpler to use a lotion or spray instead.

Dog breeds with thicker coats are more prone to dermatitis hot spots. When these breeds shed their winter coats, the hair can quickly become matted without consistent grooming.

Likewise, when dogs with thicker coats get wet from rain, swimming, or even bathing without properly drying, their fur can become matted. Acute moist dermatitis can quickly develop where damp hair is held against their body for extended periods.