If your dog is prone to dry or itchy skin, particularly during the winter months, baby oil or mineral oil can be a viable alternative to expensive over-the-counter conditioning oil supplements. The key is to use the oil appropriately to achieve the desired effect and to make sure you aren't inadvertently covering up a more serious skin condition with the oil application. For best results, always consult your vet about at-home remedies prior to use.
Analyzing Dry Skin
If your dog suddenly develops itchy, dry or scaly skin, it's worth a trip to the vet to assess what's triggering the condition. In most cases, dry skin is just that and can be treated with baby oil, canine skin conditioners and sometimes even a change in diet or vitamin supplements. However, dry skin patches also can be a sign of mites or fleas, mange, allergies or some other underlying health problems.
Baby Oil Application
The first time you use baby oil as a moisturizing agent for your dog’s skin, use a small amount and wait a day or two to see the results. If the skin is still dry, you may need to apply more oil and massage it into the skin to make sure it fully absorbs. You’ll also want to make sure your dog doesn't have any type of negative reaction to the oil. Use unscented baby oil to protect against allergies that can be triggered with added fragrances.
Baby oil is effective at moisturizing and loosening dead skin flakes. Use a comb to gently brush your dog an hour or two after applying the baby oil. The skin may look pink where the dead skin sloughs off, but it will make the process more effective and will remove excess oil. Regular brushing also helps stimulate your dog’s natural oil production, which can help prevent dry skin.
Downside to Baby Oil
While baby oil can be an effective moisturizing agent for your dog’s skin, it can be messy. If your dog is an outside dog and he rolls in dirt or debris, it can stick to the baby oil, making removal a hassle. If your dog is an indoor dog, he can transfer the oil to carpets and furniture, leaving a greasy residue that has the potential to stain some types of material. You may be better served using a less greasy canine skin conditioner or asking your vet about oil supplements in capsule form.