What To Add To Dog Food For Dry Skin?

Photo by Kabo on Unsplash

So, you’ve noticed that Rover is scratching a bit more than usual lately. He’s scratching so much that you’re beginning to feel a bit itchy, too, just in sympathy.

Before you leap to the conclusion that your pet has a flea infestation, consider the possibility that the problem may be something about your dog, and not the company he keeps.

Dry skin can be a major discomfort for canines, just as it is for humans. But your pet can’t exactly tell you what’s going on. It’s up to you to look for signs, which can go well beyond the obvious scratching. 

So, is there anything that you can add to their food that will fix dry skin

Five things to add to dog food for dry skin

So, let’s get to the heart of the matter and give you five ingredients that you can add to your dog’s food.

All of these “add ons” are easy to get hold of, reasonably priced and easy and quick to use. 

[1] Olive Oil

The most common of these is olive oil. Olive oil is high in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, and can simply be added to your pet’s daily meal. Add about a teaspoon for a dog of around 30 to 40 pounds, and a tablespoon for dogs in the 90 pound range. 

[2] Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is yet another favorite additive to enhance skin condition, but should be used with more caution. Start with a small amount, gradually building up to the amount recommended by your vet. 

[3] Apple Cider Vinegar 

This can be used, both internally and topically, to treat your pet’s dry skin. Taken as a dietary supplement, apple cider vinegar acts as a natural acidifier and may increase blood flow to the skin. 

Used in the skin, it can help stunt the growth of harmful organisms which may contribute to the condition. 

[4] Yogurt 

Yoghurt is also a moisturizer which, taken orally, can help “good” bacteria colonize the skin, overcoming the effects of other organisms which may cause dryness and inflammation. 

Use a teaspoon a day for a small dog, up to a tablespoon for larger pets. 

[5] Liquid Fish Oil

You could also try adding liquid fish oil to your dog’s food, as this is rich in omega-3 fatty acids so important to health.

And there you have it.

Five quick fixes to add to food that should help fix dry skin. 

But, do you want to know what is even better than adding something to dog food?

It is changing their diet entirely, to make sure that your dog is eating the best balance of food that there is. 

Four ingredients in a healthy diet

Well, as you may have guessed, the solution rests with the diet. 

After all, it is much easier to dose your dog’s food with a simple remedy, then try to smear skin moisturizing cream onto his skin through all that thick fur. 

So, what, exactly, is recommended to effect such a cure? Pet Helpful offers valuable advice on what type of diet is needed to treat your pet’s dry skin problems and maintain a healthy balance. 

They point out that a healthy diet is necessary not just for healthy skin and coat, but for every aspect of your dog’s life.

[1] Such a diet, ideally, should consist of about 50% fresh meat and bone. 

[2] It should also contain about 30% soft meat, although this quantity may be reduced is the amount of fresh meat on the bone is greater than the amount of bone. 

[3] You should also provide your pet with 10% organ meat, obtained from kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, etc. 

[4] Next, add 10% veggies. These may have to be processed into a fine consistency and added to meats, as some dogs simply do not like vegetables, or process them properly through their digestive system. 

Some pet food manufacturers will add potatoes or other starchy vegetables to the mix to cut down costs, but this is not desirable. 

You can also provide your pet with several raw eggs a week, complete with shells. And try a meal of fish once a week or so, if it is available. 

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel and sardines, are the best choices. 

Finally, a bit of fruit can be added, as seasonably available. Added to a veggie and egg entrée, fruit can make this dish a lot more enticing for your pet. 

And bear in mind that a little blood from the meat products will make the whole thing more palatable for your pet. 

If you do not have the time or inclination to mix up your menu for your pet, there are some commercially available products designed to enhance the health of your pet’s skin. 

K9 of Mine offers several highly recommended products on their website, and there are a wealth of others out there. 

Just be sure to read the ingredient list to make sure it aligns with your pet’s dietary requirements for healthy skin.

After having looked at your dog’s diet, it is time to move on and discuss the possible symptoms of dry skin. 

I mean, just to make sure that dry skin is the real problem here….

Four symptoms of dry skin in dogs are:

[1] Flaking

This symptom may be a minor as a few small flakes, to a persistent and widespread dandruff-like condition, all the way up to scaling, where dead skin cells are sloughed from the skin in large scales. 

You may notice minor flaking as you pet or groom your companion, but the condition may progress to the point where the poor thing is leaving a trail of white flakes as he travels around the house. This will be particularly obvious in areas where he sleeps or rests.

[2] Pimples 

Your pet may develop small, red bumps all over his body. These pimples may cause intense itching, and if your pet scratches too vigorously, as he probably will, he will cause bleeding and scabbing. Be aware that if such pimples appear only in the area of the chin, the condition is probably not related to dry skin, but a condition known as canine acne, in which the hair follicles become inflamed and eventually rupture. 

Like human acne, this can be treated by washing with a mild soap, preferably one containing salicylic acid, and an application of benzoyl peroxide.

[3] Redness 

Redness of the skin may result when dry skin becomes inflamed, leaving it vulnerable to infection.

[4] Odor

Dry skin may cause an unpleasant odor which is usually the result of an infection.

Even in the absence of any other symptoms, excessive scratching is a reliable sign of a dry skin problem. 

The next thing to determine is whether this dry skin problem is a stand-alone condition, or merely the harbinger of an underlying health problem. 

Four causes of dry skin

[1] Allergies – just as humans may develop allergies to things commonly found in their environment, so, too, can their canine companions. 

These things can include grass, pollen, dust, and a plethora of other items. 

The most common cause of canine dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin, is an allergy to flea saliva.

[2] Parasites such as Demodex mites or canine scabies can cause dry skin and irritation.

[3] Infections – Bacterial and fungal infections can cause a variety of skin problems in dogs.

[4] Systemic conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, among others, may also cause skin irritation.

To rule out any of the medical conditions listed above, it would be wise to take your pet to the vet. There are many things you can do to treat a simple case of dry skin, but none will be effective unless underlying problems are first treated.

So, once you, with the help of your vet, have determined that Rover is simply suffering from a severe case of dry skin, just what can you do to alleviate the problem? 

We’ve discussed a number of options to add to your pet’s diet, but there are certainly other homeopathic remedies which can be of use. Oatmeal can be used in a number of ways. 

Two ways to use oatmeal for dry skin

[1] Oatmeal Shampoo

Over-bathing your dog can contribute to his dry skin problem because it can drastically reduce the amount of healthy oils in the skin and coat, so next time choose a shampoo with oatmeal in it. 

Oatmeal is high in anti-inflammatory properties, and will soothe your dog’s skin rather than stripping it of oils and causing it to dry. 

[2] Oatmeal powder

But bathing is not the only way that oatmeal can be of benefit. Take regular oatmeal and process it in a blender until it forms a light powder. 

Warm the powder a bit to release its essential oils, and massage it into particularly irritated spots on your pet’s skin like a dry shampoo to provide relief. 

Allow it to stay on the skin for about twenty minutes before brushing out. This process can be performed each and every day if needed.

Closing Thoughts

If you have ever experienced the persistent itch of an angry rash, or the discomfort of a dry, cracked skin, you can imagine what your pet is going through. You can help him by alleviating the problem with just a little effort on your part. 

Do your research and buy him a quality, well-balanced and healthy dog food. 

Or put a little something extra into his daily dinner to help relieve his discomfort. Brush him daily to encourage the production of skin oils. 

An itchy dog is certainly not a happy one, and he will certainly find a way to make his owner share in that misery.

But remember, before you embark on a program of treatment, consult a vet if there is any question of an underlying condition. 

You, too, will suffer from the presence of fleas in your home, and I am sure that ringworm is not something your pet wants to share with you.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!