Bathing a Dog With Dry Skin

Improper bathing can cause dry dog skin. Proper bathing can help cure it. Dry skin occurs when too much bathing or bathing with harsh products strips your dog's skin of its natural oils. Symptoms of dry skin include itching, redness, hair loss, hot spots and infection. First evaluate whether serious underlying health conditions are causing your dog's dry skin and treat any you find. Whatever the cause of dry skin, implement the right bathing schedule and use the right products to repair and rejuvenate your dog's dry skin.

How Often Do I Bathe My Dog?

There is no one right answer to this question. As a general rule, dogs need to take baths far less often than humans do. Depending on the breed and length of coat, as well as general health status, of your dog, you and your vet will decide on the appropriate bathing schedule.

Use the Right Shampoos for Dry Skin

Never use shampoos formulated for humans or dish-washing liquid to bathe your dog; such products are too harsh and have the wrong pH for dogs. Choose canine-specific, soap-free and pH-balanced shampoos that contain the following ingredients:

  • Vitamins A and E, which promote skin and coat health
  • Humectants, which help your dog's skin retain moisture
  • Silk, wheat or oat proteins, which fortify skin and coat texture

Use the Right Crème Rinses and Conditioners for Dry Skin

Crème rinses and conditioners soothe your dog's skin as they silken the coat. Choose products with the following ingredients:

  • Hydrolyzed oat proteins
  • Chamomile
  • Vitamin E
  • Natural oils, like safflower and sunflower seed

To End the Itch

Itching causes discomfort and possible self-injury and infection through relentless scratching. Some shampoos and conditioners are formulated especially to stop the itch associated with dry skin. For example, the "Itch Stop Kit," made by Drs. Foster and Smith, contains Itch Stop Shampoo, Itch Stop Spray and Itch Stop Salve, all of which contain hydrocortisone compounds. Apply anti-itch topicals with pads or spritzer bottles.

Using Herbal Remedies

You can reach inside your own kitchen cupboard to find relief for your dog's dry skin. Try these soothing washes:

  • Put a teaspoon each of dried sage and thyme and a pinch of Epsom salts in the bath water
  • Rinse your dog with cold chamomile tea
  • Spot-treat problem patches with juice from the aloe vera plant, which heals the skin
  • Bathing Suggestions for Dogs with Dry skin
  • Because dry, possibly inflamed skin is more sensitive to the touch, be extra gentle in handling your dog during bathing. Never rub or scour the skin. Use lukewarm and not hot water. Lather your dog's entire body with shampoo and leave it on for several minutes, according to package instructions. Do the same with crème rinses and conditioners. This allows the active ingredients time to work. Dry your dog with a hand towel or hair dryer on cool setting. Always brush your dog's coat before and after bathing, which removes loose skin and reduces the incidence of matting, which can exacerbate any skin condition.