Winter Can Be Harsh on Pups

    • 6 min read

    Chopper & Otis: ichy dog

    Tips for Caring for Dogs with Dry and Itchy Skin During the Winter 

    You’re probably no stranger to excessive itching and dry skin during the chilly winter months. If you have dogs in your household, you may have noticed that they may seem more prone to dry and itchy skin in cold weather with dry air and frigid outdoor temperatures.

    Dogs that suffer from indoor allergies caused by dust mites and mold may also be prone to skin allergies too. Even though you can’t moisturize a dog’s coat with lotion, there are ways of minimizing the chances of your doggo getting dry skin. Read on to find out some easy ways for skin and coat care for all doggos during the fabulous holiday season.

    Causes of Dry Skin, Scaling and Inflammation in Dogs

    With allergens inhaled or absorbed through the skin resulting in atopic dermatitis, pet parents need to keep an eye on this troubling condition that tends to get worse if not treated right away. Fleas, pollen, house dust, and other irritants triggers an immune response that results in inflammation and excessive itchiness.


    Ears are usually the first affected area, and you may notice that your doggo is scratching and pawing them. Most dogs with skin infections will have ear infections too. That said, it’s important to visit your veterinarian to make sure that an accurate diagnosis is made. Your veterinarian will need to find out the true cause of the chronic infection, and may have to treat it with antifungals and antibiotics. Allergic reactions may also be seen in the form of runny noses, sneezing, and water eyes. Here are some skin conditions that your furry best friend may be prone to.

    The most common dermatological problems in dogs include the following:

    • Pruritus
    • Alopecia
    • Crusting and scaling
    • Non-healing wounds

    That said, let’s take a look at how to care for dogs with dry skin resulting from cold weather and skin issues from allergies.

    Understanding your Doggo’s Skin and Coat

    Scaly skin or dry skin in dogs is a common condition during the cold winters and pet parents need to determine the specific cause, and use the correct treatment. Some dogs will demonstrate excessive scaliness and shedding during the winter when the humidity levels are low. If your doggo starts having skin issues, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian first for diagnostic testing. This may include skin scrapings during a skin biopsy.

    Primary or Secondary Skin Infections

    These arise from bacterial infections caused by MSRA or yeasts like Malassezia. Bacterial skin infections in dogs may result in scaly and infected skin. Bacteria will usually bring on scaliness, excessive dryness and yeast skin infections, and will usually result in oily and smelly skin. That said, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the cause of scaly and infected skin by running certain tests.

    Although skin conditions caused by weather conditions are common, your veterinarian will need to diagnose and treat the skin condition. Diabetes, cancer, liver and kidney conditions, as well as adrenal and thyroid conditions will need to be ruled out via diagnostic testing.

    Signs of Skin Disorders in Dogs

    • Itchy skin with inflammation
    • Hair loss
    • Excessive scaling
    • Crusting with abnormal redness
    • Thickening of the skin with skin disease present
    • Boils, scales, scabbing, pus or blisters present
    • Very dry skin
    • Skin color changes
    • Fluid discharge
    • Excessive licking and rubbing

    Using Medicated Products for Skin Infections

    If your doggo has a bacterial or yeast skin infection, your veterinarian may treat it topically with medicated shampoos. This will do the following:

    • Regulate the epithelial rate
    • Control and remove the excessive scaling
    • Destroy pathogenic organisms that thrive on infected skin

    Your veterinarian may test for the following:

    • Fungal culture for ringworm
    • Blood/urine testing
    • Skin biopsy
    • Skin scrapings
    • Skin cytology with culture

    Conventional Treatments for Skin Infections May Include the Following:

    • Medicated shampoos
    • Antibiotic wipes
    • Painkillers
    • OTC parasite control if the skin issue is related to parasites
    • Steroids
    • Antibiotics

    Conventional Treatments for Skin Allergies May Also Include the Following Medications:

    • Apoquel (immune-modulating)
    • Atopica (immune –modulating)
    • Cytpoint (immune-modulating)
    • Corticosteroids
    • Antihistamines

    Preventing Dry Skin Issues in Dogs

    When trying to avoid hot spots and other skin issues in dogs, pet parents will first need to consult with their veterinarian for treatment. Hot spots grow quickly, and are painful. Switching to a hypoallergenic diet is also helpful. Rooibos tea applications are also helpful in treating hot spots in dogs. That said, the most effective way of avoiding atopic dermatitis is to try to avoid your doggo’s exposure to allergens.

    Your veterinarian may recommend medications and supplements to help prevent and ease any discomfort that your furry best friend may be experiencing. Allergy shots also help, and sometimes a trip to a veterinary dermatologist is recommended.

    Both cold weather and seasonal allergies can create discomfort in your doggo. A high-quality diet is also helpful in preventing skin allergies and skin irritations. A holistic approach is a natural way of preventing and treating skin allergies and dryness. That said, here are some of our favorites.

    Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo

    This fragrance –free shampoo helps dogs with dry and itchy skin by re-moisturizing sensitive skin and promoting healing. It contains colloidal oatmeal and organic aloe vera, and is soap- free and PH-balanced. Washing your dog with natural dog grooming products from Earthbath can be an excellent addition to any skin treatment plan for your doggo.

    Earthbath has numerous natural dog shampoos to choose from that will ease excessive scratching and hot spots. Earthbath also carries ear and body wipes that contain gentle plant extracts with gentle deodorizing ingredients.

    Aloe vera is well-known as a topical treatment for itchy and infected skin that may be prone to hot spots and rashes. It contains an enzyme that combats the development of inflammatory proteins in skin cells. That said, it is also great for stimulating the immune system.

    As usual, keep in mind that it’s best to consult with your veterinarian first to find out the underlying cause. With natural bath and ear cleaning products that are absolutely favorites with Chopper and Otis, you also can be sure that all their products are not tested on animals, but on people only.

    Herbal Therapies for Skin and Coat

    Natural herbal act like “natural steroids” because they support immune health in dogs, and most importantly they reduce the need for steroid use in dogs for skin conditions. Also using probiotics together with Omega- 3 fatty acids and antioxidants helps to reduce cell damage that results from antigen-allergen interactions. In addition, consult with your veterinarian before using herbal therapies since some doggos may be allergic.

    Herbal therapies need to be safe and specially formulated for dogs, to meet their unique needs. That said, using gentle anti-inflammatory herbs like chamomile, cranberry, couchgrass, raspberry leaf and plantain with a veterinarian’s approval and dosage guide may be beneficial in helping ease inflammation in skin allergies.

    Herbal therapies can be dangerous if not used properly, and if not formulated specifically for pets. Once again, it’s important to work together with your holistic veterinarian before giving any herb to your doggo.

    Final Tip for Living Green with Fido

    Seventh Generation Products to Wash Dog Toys provides biobased products that are derived from plants, as well as from other renewable agricultural, marine and forestry materials. All of their products are USDA biobased certified meaning that their products are good for you, your pooch, and the environment. There is no toxic residue left on your doggo’s toys after washing them, and no dangerous waste that is hazardous to the environment when all the sudsy water goes down the drain.

    All in all, pet parents should try the natural approach as a preventative method, and as a treatment for mild skin conditions in dogs. That said, consulting with your veterinarian first for the best advice, and an accurate diagnosis is key to treating skin allergies and itchy skin during the cold winter months. Keep in mind that your doggo may have an ear infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics.

    With most dogs responding well to natural therapies and integrative treatments, keep in mind that organic and natural dog shampoos will remove allergens from a dog’s skin gently without drying out your dog’s skin and coat. Natural dog grooming products are effective in treating and reducing itching and skin infections. Skin allergies and skin conditions are prevalent in dogs today, with other conditions that could further complicate a skin condition like thyroid disease and mange. Bathing your doggo regularly with a gentle shampoo is important together with combining supplements, herbs, and homeopathics so that strong medications are not needed. It’s one of the simplest ways of keeping your doggo healthy, and by your side for many years to come.

    Until next time--

    Chopper & Otis