Natural Ways to Treat Dry, Flaky Skin and Hot Spots on Dogs

(So you can both spend more time enjoying life, and less time yelling at her to stop scratching.)

There’s nothing better than spending a cool autumn afternoon hiking on the wooded trails with your best friend.

Wherever you go, she’s just a few steps behind, engrossed in sniffing out the fallen leaves, branches, nearby rocks, or whatever her nose finds interesting. Sometimes she bolts in front of you as if she needs to keep watch out for whatever may be lurking ahead, stopping to turn back to you with a triumphant look, tail wagging for praise. But today, something is a bit off. She doesn’t have the dog-like perpetual curiosity of everything in her way. There’s just a slight less pep in her steps. You find yourself having to slow down on the trail because she keeps stopping to scratch.

Your dog’s dry skin can ruin more than just your hike

You tell her “no,” to stop, in that special stern voice reserved only for your dog, but she won’t listen and keeps scratching as soon as your back is turned. Sometimes she nibbles on the same area. Fearing fleas or parasites, you run your fingers through the fur to see a pinkish red spot, flaking and painful looking. You kick yourself for not noticing that she’s been doing this since the morning. Like us, dogs often suffer from dry skin. When we humans suffer from it, we have lotions and ointments that we can just rub them on our hairless skins and carry on with our lives. Dogs have fur (and no opposable thumbs), so slathering lotion on them isn’t really an option.

Dog biting her itchy dog skin

Not only is dry skin itchy and very uncomfortable, it can also be painful, especially when the area turns into a hot spot.

5 signs that your dog has dry skin

Here are the most common signs that your dog has dry skin:

  1. She keeps scratching at the same spot. Although scratching is usually nothing to worry about, as a dog parent, you’ll know when something is a bit off or excessive.
  2. Sometimes the dog can rub herself up against objects (like furniture, rocks, etc.) to relieve all the itching. They’re not marking their territory: cats do this.
  3. When grooming or petting her, you see little white or off-white flakes falling off. This is basically the same as dandruff, and I’m sure you’d agree that this isn’t ideal.
  4. You notice a slight bald spot where the hair fell off.
  5. You see red, painful looking hot spots. With longer haired dogs, you can see wet scabs in the fur. This happens when the dog constantly scratches one area, sometimes resorting to licking and nibbling to numb the pain (or because they’re just being dogs). This inflammation often leads to infection.

What causes dry skin on dogs?


You and your dog aren’t homebodies, sitting in air-conditioned spaces most of the day. Because you’re outdoor adventurers, she’s even more prone to all the allergens that are flying around. Yes, dogs get allergies just like people do. Seasonal allergies such as pollen, grass, feathers, fur, can all lead to dry skin on dogs. If untreated, these allergies can cause atopic dermatitis, which causes dry skin, itching, swelling, and inflammation. This can even lead to infection.


Bites from parasites irritate the skin and the saliva from parasites can even cause allergic reactions for many dogs. Fleas can cause excessive scratching and even biting (particularly in the rear and tail areas). Mites can cause dandruff and flaky skin. After activity outdoors, always check your dog for parasites.

Under or over-grooming

Dogs need to be groomed regularly (once a month for short hairs to once a week for long hairs) to get rid of that dead skin and fur. If you don’t brush your dog regularly, all the dead skin can mix with the fur and can build up to the surface of the skin. With that said, grooming too much can be abrasive, causing dry skin.

Irritating shampoos

We should always use shampoo that’s specifically made for dogs. Human shampoos actually dry out and irritate your dog’s skin. This would inevitably result in itching, flaking, and redness.

Cold weather

When the weather gets colder, the skin needs to adjust to the constant temperature shifts of modern life. A breezy hike outdoors suddenly changes to a nap back inside the heated house: this can take a toll on the active outdoorsy dog. It’s especially common for this to happen in seasonal transition periods, like summer-fall and fall-winter.

Nutrient deficiency in their diet

Sometimes, your dog may not be getting the nutrients that are necessary for healthy skin and a shiny coat. This is the most common cause for dry, flaky skin, and fortunately, there are natural supplements you can add for optimal nutrition.

5 natural ways to treat your dog’s dry skin

We know that vet visits can be expensive. It’s probably the main reason why you put off taking your itchy pooch to the vet, and this is totally understandable. And since the majority of dry skin isn’t serious (if treated relatively early), we can treat them ourselves without breaking the bank. There are all-natural, inexpensive remedies, and many can be found as close as your pantry or refrigerator. And you may not have to break out the cone-of-shame.

Natural fish oil for dogs

1. Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt keeps the good bacteria in your dog’s intestines in balance and helps prevent yeast infections. A little bit of yogurt in your dog’s diet is not only healthy, but it can boost the immune system.

2. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea can relieve minor irritations. Make sure it’s room temperature or chilled. Have a small spray bottle handy and spray on dry or itchy spots. The tea can kill bacteria on the skin and relieves inflammation.

3. Ground Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an age-old remedy for itchy, inflamed skin that people have been using for many years, and it’s just as effective for dogs. You can find baby oatmeal cereal at your grocery store or grind regular (flavorless) oatmeal yourself in your blender. Pour it in warm bath water. Your dog will love it, even if she’s one of those who hates baths!

4. Apple Cider Vinegar with Corn Starch (for Hot Spots)

Treating hot spots is a bit more involved but you can still do it naturally with apple cider vinegar and some corn starch. Clip the hair around the hotspot to prevent it from getting into the wound and making the infection worse. With a moist cotton ball or gauze, dampen it with warm water and wipe to remove any dirt, loose hair or pus. Clean the area with apple cider vinegar. Pour some over a cotton ball and gently apply it to the affected area a few times a day. Finally, sprinkle the area with cornstarch to dry it off. This would also smoothe the skin, making your dog more comfortable.

5. Natural Fish Oil

Without a doubt, this is the easiest way to treat and prevent dry dog skin. In addition to treating and preventing dry or flaky skin, natural fish oil supplements can help develop a stronger immune system, a healthier brain, and heart. Getting it into your FBFF’s diet can be a little challenging, but it doesn’t have to be!

Adding natural fish oil for dogs into their diet

Unfortunately, many store-bought processed dog foods may not have the necessary potency of fatty acids, the biochemicals that are necessary for healthy skin and coat, because they’re heated to high temperatures; they’re essentially burned off and no longer active by the time the food is in your dog’s bowl. When choosing fish oil supplements, check to see if they have the following features:

  • Used the no-heat no-cook process to ensure that the omega-3 hasn’t been burned off (baked treats can loser over 50% potency).
  • More than just salmon oil. A blend of other fish has more potency.
  • It needs to be delicious: there’s no point if your dog won’t eat it!
Dog catching fish for natural fish oil for dogs

Natural fish oil can help relieve and prevent dry skin, flaking and hot spots in dogs, as well as develop a stronger immune system, a healthier brain, and heart… but they can’t always get it themselves!

Our Biased Opinion: Feed Them Active Chews

(that’s why we make them!)

Adding a regular supplement rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 from fish oils and other ingredients to your dog’s diet can work wonders for dry skin treatment, prevention, and for overall long-term health. And since you and your dog love to be active together, adding this simple addition to her diet will keep her happy, zany, and active for many more trips and adventures to come.

To provide dogs with the best possible natural fish oil that has all of the above benefits, we developed Active Chews Omega Skin & Coat Treatment for Dogs. We’ve made sure to use only the best possible ingredients because we believe our furry partners-in-crime deserve the very best when it comes to their health and fitness.

Sure, that’s our biased opinion. Lucky for us, it seems a few thousand happy pup owners agree. 🙂

Limited Time Offer

Try Active Chews Omega Skin & Coat and Save 15%

We want to help your FBFF (that’s Furry BFF, if you were wondering) get back to his or her happy, active, not-constantly-itching self, so that you can get back to enjoying your own active life. So we’re offering an exclusive discount and a 100% money-back guarantee!

Use code ACTIVESKIN15 at checkout to get your discount!

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