Summer, too. Since dogs and cats don’t bathe daily with soap and water, and they have fur to protect them form the elements, dry skin or coat is often an indication of poor health or nutrition, or physical problems. Flaking, dandruff or excessive shedding can be addressed with diet change, nutritional supplements or medication.
By examining the skin and coat, a vet can often tell whether your pet is eating quality food. Many cheaper brands lack fatty acids that help produce necessary skin oils, and may not be nutritionally complete in other ways as well. Feeding them the best food you can afford is recommended to promote healthy skin and coat.
Fatty acid supplements are available in get capsules or liquids. Within 2-4 weeks of starting those supplements, or switching to more nutritious food, a dramatic improvement in the skin and coat is often clearly visible.
When pets with dry skin need bathing, it is important to use soap-free or moisturizing products. There are light oils available that can be sprayed on, or used as a rinse after bathing, to moisturize the skin. Sprays are especially useful for cats, as they usually don’t appreciate a full bath (no kidding!).
With severe problems, use medicated shampoo and cream rinse once or twice weekly, in addition to fatty acid supplements.
Many diseases and conditions that affect overall health also affect the skin. These include low thyroid levels, allergies, kidney and heart disease, and seborrhea. Correcting the underlying problem will usually lead to improvement in the skin within a few weeks. Persistent dry skin, despite a good diet and fatty acid supplements, is an indication of something more serious, and is worth investigating.
Ask your vet about products that will work, taking into consideration the severity of your pet’s dry skin and your ability to bathe him.