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Q:  I’ve noticed my dog’s skin is dry in the winter and he is constantly scratching.  Is there anything I can do to give him some relief? 

A:  Dry skin can certainly cause a dog to become itchy. During the winter months the humidity levels inside our homes are low and this can lead to dry skin.

  • Humidifiers can be helpful, especially in homes with forced-air heat.
  • Products containing fatty acids can be helpful but often take 6-8 weeks before improvement is noted. Omega 3 fatty acids can also decrease inflammation which can cause itching.
  • Moisturizing shampoos and leave-on lotions containing hydrocortisone can provide relief.
  • There are several products available that help restore the lipid barrier in the skin and help alleviate itching.
  • Although antihistamines are not as effective in dogs as they are in people, they can help some dogs with mild to moderate itching. There are many different antihistamines that you can purchase over-the-counter. You should always check with your veterinarian before giving any medication- even over the counter ones. Your veterinarian is the best person to suggest which antihistamine to try and the proper dose based on you dog’s weight and health status. 

While dry skin may be the cause of your dog’s itching, it is very important to rule out any other problems that could be causing your dog to itch. The most common causes of itching in dogs are allergies, parasites and skin infections.

Laura Bucklan

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