Winter Blues: Fighting the Itchies, Scritchies, and Bities

It’s that time of year and if you are going absolutely bonkers listening to your dog (or cat) itch, scratch, lick, bite, and gnaw, please know you are not alone! Animal skin conditions are unfortunately all too common, especially as the weather turns cold and dry. When we turn on our heaters, we create a much more arid and dry atmosphere in our homes which can zap moisture from our furry friend’s skin. Going outside in the cold for walks (while important!) can cause issues for little puppy paws. The salt on the roads and sidewalks can irritate dog’s paw pads and ice/snow balls can cause irritation as well. We have compiled a list of solutions for you to try out and see what works best for your pup to fight off the itchies, scritichies, and bities! 

  • Brush your dog at least once a day to remove skin flakes and loose hair. Not only will brushing help your dog feel good and keep his or her coat shiny, but it also helps stimulate and distribute the skin’s natural oils that form a protective, moisturizing barrier.
  • Bathe your dog less frequently during winter months since bathing can remove the skin’s natural oils and valuable moisture. If bathing is necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner made specifically for dogs. Using lukewarm water instead of hot water doesn’t dry out the skin as much.
  • Run humidifiers in your home to add some much-needed moisture into the air.
  • Feed your dog a high-quality, nutritionally balanced food, preferably one with optimal levels of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help maintain healthy skin and may benefit dogs with skin and coat problems. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian before switching your dog’s food.
  • Provide plenty of fresh, clean water to help your dog maintain his or her hydration. Even mild dehydration can contribute to skin flakiness and dryness. To encourage greater water intake during winter months, consider adding warm water to your dog’s dry food or adding a splash of low-sodium broth to the water dish.
  • Coconut oil can be just as good for you pet as it is for you! Use it to soothe and moisturize your pet’s skin while simultaneously promoting healthy coat growth. Another topical solution our vets recommend are these oil treatments that are applied to the skin. Dog owners should not overdo it with topical treatments. While they do help soothe the skin, they are rarely a total solution to the itchy scratchies. 
  • Keep the hair around your dog’s paw pads trimmed to prevent snow and ice from sticking to the hair. 
  • Add in some healthy fats and oils into your pet’s diet to soothe dry, flaky skin like wild-caught salmon oil or other plant-based fatty acids such as flaxseed oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. Add these to the top of their food as a tasty treat!
  • Make sure you’re continuing monthly flea/tick protection for your pets (yes, even through the winter months!) as we often get a few weeks of nicer weather and those pesky pests may reappear and cause itchiness.
  • Walks are a great way to get out of the house and prevent cabin fever. If your pup has sensitive feet to the ice/salt/snow , try out a pair of booties! Check out these instructions to get your dog used to the boots.
  • If boots are not in the cards for your winter walkies, consider using a product like this paw protecting balm, which is a great solution for sensitive paws year-round.
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