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Home > Dogs > What To Add to Dog Food for Dry Skin: 9 Great Ideas

What To Add to Dog Food for Dry Skin: 9 Great Ideas

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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As dog owners, we all understand the frustration of a pet that scratches and licks excessively, but it is much more agonizing for your pooch. If you checked for fleas and there are none, it is very likely that your canine friend has dry, itchy skin. If you have ever experienced the discomfort of itchy skin, you can sympathize with your pet and naturally want to find solutions to help them feel more comfortable.

It is important to preface that there is much lacking in regards to evidence-based medicine and published medical articles suggesting use of the following products, and it is always imperative to ascertain the root cause of dry or itchy skin (which may necessitate a vet visit). That said, you will be relieved to know that there are some foods you can add to your dog’s meals that may help them feel more at ease and offer a bit of relief.


9 Ideas on What to Add to Dog Food for Dry Skin

1. Olive Oil

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Olive oil, which most of us have a regular supply on our shelves at home, has been shown to be rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, which are beneficial to skin health. You can give your dog half a teaspoon of olive oil added to their food twice a day, but it is always best to consult your vet for guidance before starting this. Olive oil also has soothing properties if it is applied topically.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a healthy and popular alternative to processed trans fats. In addition to helping relieve your pup’s dry skin, coconut oil can assist with weight loss and provide your dog with energy. If you struggle with your canine friend’s bad breath, coconut oil can help, too! That said, make sure to consult with a vet as this and other holistic options may not always help your dog.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
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Apple cider vinegar may aid in digestion, lowering pH and encouraging good bacteria to thrive in the gut. You can cover raw vegetables in apple cider vinegar, allowing them to ferment in the refrigerator, and add a teaspoon to your dog’s food.

4. Yogurt

Plain, non-fat, or low-fat yogurt can be a source of probiotics and calcium. Consider adding a spoonful to your dog’s food every day to improve digestion and moisturize the skin, but make sure to read the label. It is important that the yogurt doesn’t contain xylitol and is not loaded with sugar. Also, keep an eye out for lactose intolerance and if you are unsure, always consult your vet to ensure your dog can have dairy products, as many dogs may be allergic to dairy.

5. Liquid Fish Oil

liquid fish oil
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High-quality fish oils contain DHA and EPA, which are both omega-3 fatty acids beneficial to skin health. They maintain the barrier properties of the skin to help prevent your dog’s skin from drying out. Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the skin, joints, eyes, heart, and digestive system. Talk to your vet about the correct dosage for your dog.

6. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are small grains high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that play a role in aiding skin ailments. They prevent water loss, create a barrier against allergens and microbes, and they can decrease inflammation. Chia seeds are also high in protein and contain antioxidants that assist in the repair of body cells.

7. Digestive Enzymes

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Digestive enzymes are supplements that can help your dog’s itchy skin. They aid digestion by breaking down starch, protein, fiber, and fat, and they make the nutrients easier to absorb.

8. Eggs

Eggs are a great protein for dogs and contain a high vitamin A content that helps stimulate and promote cell turnover. They are an excellent source of essential fatty acids that are beneficial to your dog’s skin health by building and maintaining body cells. Eggs also include a high biotin content which is an essential element in treating dry and itchy skin.

Avoid raw eggs! You can serve your dog scrambled or boiled eggs, but raw eggs can be contaminated with a foodborne virus or Salmonella, for example, and are unsafe to feed.

9. Quercetin

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Quercetin can assist dogs that struggle with environmental allergies. It is a plant-based compound that contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and antihistamine properties. It works best when paired with an enzyme called bromelain found in pineapples. Quercetin is available in pill, capsule, or powder form, and a recommended dosage can be determined by your vet.


Signs of Dry Skin in Dogs

Itchy skin can be easy to identify, and some dogs may have one or more signs that are common. They include:

  • Flaking: You may notice flaking when grooming your dog or notice a trail of white flakes in their path. Flaking happens when the skin cells die and flake off the body.
  • Pimples: You may notice small red bumps on your dog’s skin that may cause itching. Your dog can damage their skin by scratching excessively.
  • Odor: Your dog’s skin may develop an odor due to infection, and this is a common sign of excessive chewing and licking.
  • Redness: Intense and constant scratching may lead to inflammation, causing your dog’s skin to become red and susceptible to infection.
  • Hair Loss: If your dog scratches in the same area for a long time, the hair in the area may fall out.

Causes of Dry Skin in Dogs

There could be many reasons that your dog is experiencing dry, itchy skin, and it is necessary to understand the cause to treat it. Dogs can have allergies to organic materials in their environments like grass, dust, and pollen. However, one of the most common allergens is flea saliva.

Dogs can also develop dry skin from sensitivities to their shampoo, cold weather, and bacterial infections. Your pup’s breed can also be a factor, as some dog breeds are more prone to dry skin than others.

dog itchy skin
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The Role of Nutrition in Skin Health

Your dog’s diet plays a role in their skin health, so it is essential that they are fed a nutrient-dense and complete diet. A healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is essential to your dog’s skin health since they assist in alleviating and curing skin ailments. Also, never forget the most important nutrient! Water is essential to the health of your pet and keeping their skin hydrated.

How Else Can I Help My Dog’s Skin?

  • Oatmeal shampoos contain anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe your dog’s skin without stripping its natural oils.
  • Lavender, tea tree, and calendula oils can help your dog’s skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure your dog doesn’t lick off the tea tree oil since it can be toxic.
  • Licorice root is a form of cortisone that can relieve itching and irritation while reducing the urge to scratch.



You can understand the frustration that itchy skin can cause for your canine companion, but luckily, there are ways to help your friend. High-quality dog food, periodic hair brushing,  and healthy additions like the ones we have listed for you can help relieve your canine’s discomfort. While holistic and natural home remedies can offer some help, do always consult your vet if you are unsure or if there is a possible underlying medical condition as they are not meant to be a replacement to traditional medical care.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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