We might have been spoiled into thinking it was going to be 50 degrees all winter but like always, the cold weather eventually shows up. And with it, so does dry skin and the never-ending search for that ChapStick you left on the kitchen counter.

If your skin is drier than usual, think of what the lack of moisture in the air is doing to your dog.

There are a few ways to identify whether or not your dog is suffering from dry skin and they pretty much line up with how you would evaluate your own skin. Is the skin harsh to the touch? Do you notice flaking? Does your dog seem to scratch more than usual? Dogs with dry skin might want to be petted more often often and may try to direct your attention to a certain spot that may be excessively dry.

After you determine that the itching isn’t caused by fleas, there are a few relatively easy solutions to help add more moisture to your dog’s skin:

  • Increase the humidity level in your home: If your throat is scratchy, your lips are chapped and your skin is beginning to feel like sandpaper because the air in your house is dry, imagine what it’s doing to your dog. Whether you use a system-wide humidifier or portable units, make sure they’re working and filled with water at all times.
  • Keep your dogs hydrated: Make sure your dog has enough water at all times. You may have an established pattern of when you fill your dog’s water bowl each day but you’ll want to be more tuned into whether or not they’re drinking more than usual. Your dog is probably drinking more water than he or she might in April or September so it’s not a bad idea to set up an extra water bowl in an area of the house your dog spends more time, like your bedroom. It’s a nice little reminder that they need to keep hydrated. And it just might keep them from using the toilet to quench their thirst.
  • Give them fish oil: Incorporate fish oil into one of your dog’s meals each day. Just drop it into their bowl along with their food and they’ll eat it up. Fish oil is filled with omega 3s, or fatty acids, with help the body stay moisturized. It’s an easy way to treat your dog’s skin from the inside out.
  • Use oatmeal shampoo: Oatmeal can be used to treat dry, irritated skin because oats are partly made up of the compound avenanthramides, an anti-inflammatory agent for itching and irritation. You can provide your dog with some comfort with a bath using an all-natural oatmeal shampoo. If you’re buying it for the first time, make sure you give it the sniff test and check the label. You don’t need a shampoo with a strong fragrance. Most scents added to your dog’s shampoo are made using the type of chemicals that can dry out their skin. 

 If you’re feeling the effect of less moisture in the air this winter—chapped lips, dry skin, increased thirst—you can bet your dog is experiencing similar issues. The steps mentioned above can help ensure your housemate is comfortable during the winter as you both settle in for the cold months ahead. 

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