We get a lot of inquiries about how to help cats and dogs with itchy, dry skin this time of year. Winter in Minnesota means it is cold and dry! Often our first recommendation is to review their diet, but if their diet has not been changed recently and it appears the dry, irritated skin has onset with the change in weather, it’s likely being caused by another source.
Here are a few suggestions to help make your cats and dogs more comfortable:
– Check moisture levels in the house (humidifier) and increase if appropriate. Studies vary, but say indoor humidity of 40-60% is desirable.
– Lavender & coconut oil: Apply lavender essential oil to irritated areas on the skin and cover with coconut oil over the top. This will help soothe and regenerate the skin. Use a very small amount of lavender. Application amount will depend on species as well as size. Ask us for help if you’re not sure how much to use. Make sure therapeutic-grade essential oils only. Cats and dogs WILL lick and ingest the oils and we want to keep them safe from artificial substances that could be toxic. You can get coconut oil at your local pet store or co-op.
– Purification Essential Oil: This essential oil can be added separately or in conjunction with lavender. It helps stop the itch and also has antiseptic properties to help prevent infection. If your cat or dog is scratching or chewing on their skin a lot, this is a good option to incorporate. Typically, our recommendation is to apply the lavender and Purification at separate times of the day. For instance, apply the Purification in the morning and the lavender in the evening. Coat each application with coconut oil.
– Add coconut oil to your dog or cat’s diet. Start with a small amount and increase it slowly over the course of a couple of weeks. Increasing the amount slowly prevents soft stools.
– Seameal supplement. It helps with allergies and skin issues as well as digestibility of food. It comes in a powder form making it easy to add to food.
– Consider things like bedding (blankets, dog beds, etc). Are any of them new, recently washed, sitting over/near heat vent? Recently washed could indicate an allergy or sensitivity to washing detergent, move if near a heat vent – the air could be too dry.
– Add water to his feeding or supplement with some high quality, limited ingredient canned food to get extra hydration into him or her.
These are a few things to look into to help keep your cats and dogs comfortable during the dry, winter months. If skin issues have been a persistent problem, please contact your veterinarian for assistance. We will work with you individually as well to help keep your pet healthy; providing such options as massage, supplements and changes in nutrition.