Niki Congero: Treat dry skin on your pet this winter (opinion) |

Niki Congero: Treat dry skin on your pet this winter (opinion)

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Goldy is a 2-year-old girl. She came to the shelter with kittens, and now they have all found their homes; she is now ready for one of her very own. Come visit Goldy at the El Dorado County Animal Services, or call 530-573-7925. For spay-neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857.
Courtesy Photo |

Dear Henry,

I have noticed my dog’s skin is flaky and he is constantly scratching! Is this something you can give me some advice on, or is it time to see the vet?



Dear Betty,

Without seeing how bad your dog is, it makes it 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, with cold weather comes dry weather, which also brings on a harsh environment for our pets’ skin. The lower-than-summertime humidity causes distress to our respiratory tract and to our largest organ, the skin. This affects our pets, too! Below are a few tips to help your furry family members with this issue:

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 the wonderful benefits they have for joint disease, they are key in 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 formulations 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 soak in 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


To all Tahoe pet lovers, this Saturday, Nov. 12, is your opportunity to meet Hopeful Henry in person at the Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s 30th Annual SANTA PAWS event! Bring your furry family member down to Tahoe Production House, located at 2219 Lake Tahoe Blvd., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and get their photo taken with Tahoe’s exclusive Santa Dog. A great memento, turn your picture into custom cards and ornaments. There is also the opportunity to purchase fun gifts for pets and people, and refreshments will be served while you’re waiting your turn (first come, first serve). One-hundred percent of funds raised “Helps Local Animals In Need!”

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit, or

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