Editor’s note: Have you seen Dogster and Lucky Puppy magazines in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our Winter issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the magazines delivered to your home.
Scratch, scratch, scratch. And so winter begins with its dry, windy, cold air outside, and the dry, hot, forced air inside, without any moisture in sight. What’s a kitty or puppy to do except scratch? Unlike humans, pets can’t just slap on some extra moisturizer and call it a day. However, there are some easy solutions to help with dry skin.
Let’s start with the basics: Just because you and your pets aren’t sweating from the heat doesn’t mean you should slack off on drinking water. Dogs should get at least an ounce per pound daily, and cats require at least two to four ounces daily. Monitor the water bowl for both cleanliness and decreasing water level, plus use filtered water as some cats don’t like the taste of “hard” water. Feeding wet food will also provide more water. Another way to entice your pet is with an automatic water fountain.
Dry cold air and dry hot air both suck the moisture right out of the skin. Humidifiers put that moisture right back into the air, helping with dry skin, sinus issues, less static, and better sleep. Downside: You’ve got to clean it and change the filter (if it has one) regularly or you’ll have yucky mold and bacteria floating around.
Bathe your dog less during the winter — it removes natural oils that keep the skin hydrated. When you do bathe your dog, use moisturizing shampoos with ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera. For cats, only use shampoos specially made for felines, and only if your cat really needs a bath. You might want to use a conditioning rinse specially formulated for pets’ dry skin.
Doesn’t matter if you have a cat or dog, brushing or combing the hair removes all those dead skin cells and loosens hair. Brushing stimulates hair follicles and the natural oils in the skin, too.
Talk with your veterinarian to see if he recommends adding a fish oil supplement to your pet’s diet for dry, itchy skin. Your pet’s food should contain the minimal daily requirement, but upping the omega-3 fatty acids could improve your pet’s skin, along with other healthy benefits.
These five simple tips should be enough to smooth out your pet’s dry and itchy winter skin. However, dry skin isn’t always just dry skin but could be a symptom of an infection, parasites, allergies, or other condition. Take your pet to the vet if her dry skin doesn’t go away.