What Can I Give My Dog For Skin Care?
All dogs need regular grooming and protection, no matter their breed, size, or how much time they spend in the great outdoors.
And while you'll find tons of dog skin care products in the pet aisle, there are plenty of natural dog skin care products that are just as good — and often better and safer — than their chemical-packed counterparts.
In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about caring for your dog's skin the natural way, from daily grooming to diet and the best products to use.
What Causes Dog Skin Problems?
Just as with people, a dog's skin can develop issues at any time. In many cases, these problems are caused by exposure to the elements, allergies, or diseases (such as mange). Other dogs' skin problems are related to diet.
There are several common causes of dog skin problems, including the following:
- Parasites such as lice, fleas, ticks, and mites.
- Diet-related allergies to food or certain ingredients.
- Skin irritations caused by exposure to the elements, such as too much sunlight, cold air, or water.
- Skin infections spread by contact with other dogs, either in the home or at the dog park.
- Hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, and hormone-related fur loss.
- Fungal infections, which develop when the immune system is weakened by disease or illness.
- Contact dermatitis, which develops in reaction to contact with irritants such as grasses and chemicals.
In general, dogs' skin problems also fall into one of three categories:
- Mild skin problems, such as dry skin or dandruff, which can be treated by bathing and diet changes.
- Moderate skin problems, which can be treated with diet changes, shampoo, antibiotics, or anti-fungal medication.
- Severe skin problems, such as parasites and bacterial or fungal infections, which usually require veterinary care.
For a more in-depth look at the most common skin conditions on dogs, check out our post on the topic here.
Regardless of the cause, there are natural ways to treat your dog's skin problems and help him feel (and look) better in no time.
Still, if your dog's skin issues fall under moderate or severe, it's a good idea to contact your vet for advice first.
This way, you can be sure that you're using the right products and avoid making your dog's skin problem worse.
Daily Grooming Is Essential For Your Dog's Skin
Grooming is very important for your dog's skin. When you groom, you're removing all the dead hair and dander that can accumulate on your dog's skin, which can lead to dandruff, dry skin, and other more serious issues.
In addition, establishing a regular grooming routine will help you catch any skin problems early so that they can be addressed before they develop into something more serious.
It is also a great way to bond with your dog, which he'll appreciate. To make sure that grooming is a positive experience every time, turn it into a game with treats and praise!
A basic grooming routine includes:
- Brushing your dog's hair and skin at least once a day. Brushing is best, but you can also wipe down your dog with a warm cloth instead. This is especially important if your dog has frequent skin problems.
- Weekly baths, especially during the summer and winter months, when your dog is more likely to be exposed to the elements.
- Clipping your dog's nails every couple of weeks.
- Checking your dog's ears and teeth daily.
It's also a good idea to take your dog to the groomer for a regular bath and haircut every so often. This is especially important if your dog has a thick coat or long fur that tends to become matted, which can lead to skin issues.
What natural ingredients are good for dog skin?
There are plenty of natural ingredients that you can add to your dog's diet or use in his skincare routine that will keep him healthy and happy.
Check the product label for the following ingredients:
This multipurpose oil contains vitamins A, D, and E, as well as omega-6 fatty acids. It has anti-inflammatory properties that will help your dog's skin problems.
This has many of the same properties as olive oil, including anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also contains essential fatty acids that your dog needs for a healthy coat and skin.
Healthy for humans and great for dogs, too. It's packed with vitamin B, C, and E, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper. It can be used to help skin problems like inflammation, itchiness, and redness.
Lavender is well-known for its calming properties. As an essential oil, it boosts the immune system, relieves pain, and reduces stress. Plus, it smells fantastic.
Long known for its soothing properties, aloe vera gel is extremely nourishing and protects skin from the sun. It's a great all-around skin treatment.
Sea salt is packed with minerals and nutrients, like magnesium and calcium. It can be used to help dry skin and promote overall skin health.
Turmeric is full of antioxidants that will help your dog's skin problem, as well as help to soothe pain and reduce inflammation.
Surprised to see this on the list?
Sea kelp moisturizes dry and damaged skin, leaving it soft and fresh. It also helps heal injuries and is great for your dog's coat.
Fruit and Vegetable Extracts
Specifically, look for fruit and vegetable extracts that will help your dog's skin problem. Citrus, cucumber and tomato extracts will help with dry and irritated skin, while apple and carrot extracts are great for a nourishing vitamin boost.
This ingredient attracts moisture to the skin and helps reduce acne. It's gentle and great for your dog's delicate skin.
Green tea, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger infusions are just some of the teas that can be used to help your dog's skin. Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties while ginger is great for the immune system.
Honey will help heal your dog's skin, but it's also a natural antibacterial agent that will keep his skin clean and fresh.
The more natural ingredients you can find in your dog's skin care routine (and the fewer chemicals), the better.
Natural Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Skin
From flea prevention to healing wounds, restoring the pH balance of your dog's skin, soothing itchy and irritated skin, here are some natural home remedies to try for your dog's skincare routine.
1. Oatmeal Baths for Itchy Skin
If your dog has itchy skin, especially during the winter months when his coat is thicker, you can help soothe him with an oatmeal bath.
It's really simple, too - ground uncooked oatmeal into a fine powder, then run your dog a warm bath. Add in the oatmeal powder and allow him to soak for about 10 minutes before washing it off.
You can also add a bit of olive oil for extra relief.
2. Epsom Salts for Wounds
Epsom salts are an effective natural remedy for a variety of things, including would care for dogs. The salt gently cleanses the wound and draws out infection.
If the wound is on the paws, take 2 cups of warm water and mix in a teaspoon of Epsom salt. You can soak the paw directly for a few minutes or, if the wound is further up on his body, soak a clean washcloth in the salt solution and apply it directly to the wound like a compress.
Afterward, rinse the wound with fresh water. Or, if he’s had a paw soak, dry off his feet with clean paper towels or washcloths.
3. Essential Oils for Flea Prevention
Want to keep the fleas away, but don't want to use chemical-based flea collars or sprays?
Try a natural alternative. Combine your essential oil of choice, like rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, citronella, and tea tree oils, with about a cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well before using and spritz your dog's coat once or twice a week.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin and Coat Problems
Apple cider vinegar can do a lot of great things for your dog - from helping to detoxify his system and cleanse out impurities to helping with parasites, itching, and matting.
To use apple cider vinegar as a rinse or skin treatment for your dog, just mix 3 parts water to 1 part ACV. Any brand is fine.
Use the ACV solution as a final rinse after bath time or spray your dog's coat once or twice a week for skin health.
5. Prebiotic Shampoo and Topical Treatments
Did you know that a healthy dog's skin is a thriving ecosystem? There are microorganisms living on your dog's skin that have a positive symbiotic relationship with your dog. They help protect the skin from harmful pathogens and toxins that can cause dryness, irritation, itching, or infection.
When that delicate balance is disrupted, your dog's skin can become dry and irritated, which can lead to itching and even infection.
Prebiotic products - shampoos and topical treatments - help reestablish the right pH levels and nurture the healthy bacteria on your dog's skin.
Only use organic products that don't contain chemicals, sulfates, dyes, or parabens. These additives can be irritating and even harmful to your dog's skin.
Simply shampoo your dog's coat as usual and leave the treatment in place for a few minutes before rinsing. As for topical treatments, apply it directly to the affected area.
6. Aloe Vera for Itching and Bacterial Infections
If your dog's itching and scratching has him in a lot of discomfort, you can help ease the itching and promote quick healing with fresh aloe vera.
Just break off a leaf and slit open the skin with a sharp knife. The clear gel inside can be applied directly to any itchy or irritated patches of skin. It's also great for helping to heal wounds and will relieve pain, redness, swelling, and irritation.
How can I moisturize my dog's skin naturally?
First, it's important to understand what "moisturized" skin for dogs means.
A dog's skin naturally produces healthy oils that keep it supple, smooth, and hydrated.
These oils produce a protective barrier that helps protect the skin from irritants and harmful pathogens, too.
When your dog's skin doesn't produce enough of these oils - usually due to environmental, health, or dietary factors - it can become dry and flaky.
Therefore, the job of a dog owner is to support the natural production of healthy oils on your dog's skin, while supplementing with other natural ingredients to help soothe dryness.
Below are some great ways to moisturize your dog's skin naturally:
- Give him a good brush to stimulate his skin's natural oil production.
- Mix about a tablespoon of olive oil into his food every day to boost healthy fat levels in his body, which in turn, will help promote healthy skin. Add in some cod liver oil for extra vitamins A and D.
- Add a tablespoon of coconut oil or avocado oil to his food. Both oils are rich in healthy fatty acids and antioxidants, which help keep the skin healthy and supple.
- When bathing your dog, make sure to use all-natural shampoos and conditioners that are free from harsh chemicals.
- Don't bathe him too often - a few times a month is usually fine. But when you do bathe him, make sure to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that's formulated for dry skin.
- Give him omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which help promote a healthy coat and skin.
- Check his environment for irritants that can cause dryness, such as cigarette smoke, hairspray, air fresheners, cleaning products, and harsh detergents.
The importance of diet in your dog’s skin health
What your dog eats has a direct impact on his skin's health, which is why it's important to provide him with the best possible food.
He needs a diet that's rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, proteins, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.
So whether you're feeding kibble or preparing home-cooked meals, make sure he's getting dog food that includes the following:
High-Quality Protein Sources
A high-quality protein source should be the main ingredient in his dog food - followed by healthy fats and fiber.
Protein is essential for building strong muscles, but it's also important for the skin because it contributes to its strength and elasticity. Some great protein sources are grass-fed beef, lamb, free-range chicken, wild fish (i.e., salmon), and cage-free eggs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is important for your dog's skin because these essential nutrients help protect the skin from infections and other harmful conditions, promote a healthy coat and skin, and even help reduce inflammation.
Some excellent food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are wild-caught salmon, flaxseed, hemp seed oil, and chia seeds.
Carbs are the main source of energy for our bodies and dogs alike.
However, simple carbs (i.e., sugar and processed grains) are a leading cause of energy crashes and unhealthy weight gain.
On the other hand, complex carbs offer sustained energy that helps maintain blood sugar levels and keep them evenly throughout the day.
They also promote a healthy weight and help prevent inflammation and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Some good sources of complex carbs are sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, oats, and barley.
Fiber is important for healthy digestion, maintaining a healthy weight, and helping to prevent chronic health problems.
Good sources of fiber include vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains like oats, barley, and brown rice.
A diet rich in antioxidants can help protect your dog's skin from free radicals - unstable oxygen molecules that are highly reactive and cause damage to healthy cells.
Some excellent antioxidant-rich foods for dogs include blueberries, cranberries, kale, broccoli, and carrots.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are "good" bacteria that promote gut health. In other words, they help keep the digestive system in good shape.
In turn, a healthy digestive system helps support the overall health of your dog's skin and coat because it:
- Helps improve nutrient absorption from the food he eats
- Helps protect his skin from harmful pathogens and irritants
Some good sources of prebiotics and probiotics for dogs are kefir, yogurt, and natural supplements.
Vitamins & Minerals
Getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs from his dog food is important for your dog's overall health.
- Vitamins A, C, and E are powerful antioxidants that can help protect the skin from free radicals and other chronic health problems.
- Meanwhile, B vitamins (i.e., niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12) help support your dog's nervous system and maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- For bone health, calcium and phosphorus are important for maintaining strong bones.
- And iron, copper, iodine, manganese, zinc, selenium, potassium, and magnesium are essential for muscle coordination, blood cell formation, and other metabolic functions.
Some great sources are liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, salmon, eggs, kale, tomatoes, blueberries, bananas, chlorella powder (natural supplement), spirulina (natural supplement), and flaxseeds.
Some dogs have food allergies or intolerances to specific ingredients.
The state of your dog's skin is a good indicator.
If your dog's skin is very dry, dry itchy patches are appearing, or he seems to be scratching more than usual, then it may be time to switch up his diet and see if the skin condition improves.
It's also a good idea to check with your vet to pinpoint the foods your dog is allergic to, so you can adjust his diet accordingly.
How Healthy Bacteria Helps Restore the Natural Health of Your Dog’s Skin
The health of your dog's skin is directly related to the health of his microbiome -- which is to say, all of the healthy bacteria that reside in his gut, mouth, ears, paws, and more.
There are many factors that can harm the microbiome in your dog's skin, such as poor diet (which can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria), environmental toxins, chronic stress, and certain medications.
This can cause the microbiome to shift from a healthy balance of bacteria to an unhealthy imbalance, leading to skin problems such as bacterial or yeast infections.
Petbiotic's Prebiotic Lavender Shampoo is specifically formulated to counter this process
Applying our prebiotic lavender dog shampoo to your dog's skin triggers a chain of events, including the following:
- The healthy bacteria start to devour the organic, natural, and alkaloid-based stimulants in Petbiotics shampoo or topical treatment.
- The healthy bacteria begin to multiply into an ever-growing army, wiping out the unhealthy balance of pathogenic bacteria.
- While removing contaminants from your dog's skin, the healthy bacteria also start producing a natural alkaline enzyme.
- This enzyme is perfectly safe for your pet and works to rebalance the pH levels in his skin from the inside out.
And once the good bacteria win, skin magic starts to happen.
You'll notice your dog scratching, rubbing, licking, and biting less. His fur becomes softer, silkier, and visibly healthier. Try PetBiotics today and see the difference for yourself!