Tahoe Humane Society: Tips for dealing with dry, itchy skin | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Tahoe Humane Society: Tips for dealing with dry, itchy skin

Dear Henry,

My dog seems to be very itchy, scratching a lot and flaking in area he scratches. Do you know of any home remedies or is it time to see the vet?

Sincerely,

Bobbie

Dear Bobbie,

Without seeing how bad your dog is, it's difficult to recommend treatment — also, I am not a vet. I would always recommend taking your pup to the doc if you're unsure about the severity of the condition. That being said, the cold and dry conditions also bring a harsh environment for our pet's skin. The lower humidity (lower compared to summer time) causes distress to our respiratory tract and to our largest organ, the skin. This effects our pets, too. Below are a few tips to help your furry family members with this issue:

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Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to the air will make it feel warmer (so it might help you save a few bucks on your heating costs) and will combat winter itch. Run a humidifier in each room that you and your pets spend a lot of time in. Don't forget to clean the humidifier each time you replenish the water supply.

If your pet isn't already taking omega-3 fatty acids, start giving those right away. In addition to wonderful benefits they have for joint disease, they are key to maintaining healthy skin, especially in the winter.

Brush your pet. Brushing gets rid of dead hair, distributes natural oils and stimulates blood circulation. Plus, it gives you special one-on-one time with your pet, strengthening your ever-growing bond.

Use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. I particularly like formulas that contain colloidal oatmeal — these draw out inflammation and help maintain hydration. Make it a relaxed spa time for your pet, allowing the shampoo to contact the skin for 10 minutes or more. It's most effective this way.

After bathing, apply a topical moisturizer, such as a leave-in conditioner or spray moisturizer. These keep the skin healthy without a greasy residue.

If the itch is so severe that it's keeping you and your pet up at night, or if your pet is damaging his or her skin by persistently scratching, talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of using oral medications on a short-term basis. Antihistamines and steroids can provide relief, but can come with some undesirable side effects.

Hoping these tips are helpful,

Hopeful Henry

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Need some pet advice? Ask Hopeful Henry. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to AskHenry@LakeTahoeHumaneSociety.org or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit Facebook.com/LakeTahoeHumaneSocietySPCA, Facebook.com/Hopeful.Henry or Twitter.com/LtHumaneSociety.