Puppies often have dry skin, which is indicated by dandruff flakes and scratching, but the problem rarely is a symptom of a more serious health threat. Fortunately, most puppies that have dry skin respond well to simple treatments.
The most immediate symptom of dry skin in puppies is dandruff, which will be especially obvious if your dog has a dark coat. Veterinarian Race Foster says that dandruff flakes are usually most evident on the puppy’s back, neck and rump. A puppy with dry skin may also scratch itself a lot and may lose some hair.
According to Dr. Foster, the sebaceous glands, which produce natural oils that lubricate a dog’s skin and coat, usually are underactive in puppies less than 4 months old. As the dog ages, the glands will become more productive and will eventually generate sufficient oil to keep the dog’s skin properly lubricated.
Low humidity also can dry a dog’s skin and cause dandruff and itching. In addition, some dogs have allergies that can cause dry skin and flaking, and some parasites can cause these symptoms as well.
Vetinfo.com, an informational web site, recommends several simple steps for treating your puppy’s dry skin. First, brush your puppy every day, preferably at the same time of day. This will spread the natural oils out over the entire coat, and also will help your dog get used to being groomed.
You can also add some flax seed oil or another fatty acid supplement to your puppy’s food, to help boost the lubricants in the dog’s system.
If your puppy’s dry skin persists, only bathe it every other week. Use a mild shampoo, such as an oatmeal-based product, which won’t strip the oils from your puppy’s coat. Dr. Foster also suggests that you apply a moisturizing rinse after you’ve washed the shampoo out of the dog's hair. After you bathe your puppy, be sure to dry it very well, and then brush its coat.
When to See the Vet
If you’ve followed these suggestions and your puppy’s skin is still very dry, or the dog starts losing a lot of hair, it may have allergies or a parasitic infestation such as lice, mange or fleas. Consult your vet about determining what's causing the problem and about what treatments are available.