Oils: we find them in salads, vitamins, baking, body lotion and dog food. Though the last bit may sound strange, oils contain skin-softeners and even have antibacterial properties that can soothe and heal Pepper’s irritated skin. Don’t leave her high and dry; check out oils to keep her skin healthy and soft.
To Oil or Not to Oil?
Oils seem like a natural choice to relieve your pup's dry, flaky skin. They have moisturizing, emollient properties, and human skin seems to soak up their benefits. However, consult your veterinarian before adding any oils to your dog’s diet. If she is consuming a “complete and balanced” dog food, one with proper amount of the 38 required daily nutrients, adding oils to her diet could upset the nutritional balance. This isn’t to say that oils won’t benefit her skin. On the contrary, oils have wonderful healing properties, but they should be used only when a veterinarian advises.
Fish oil packs a powerful punch of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates insists a diet that contains the proper balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids can promote healthy canine skin and fur. EFAs moisturize your dog’s skin from the inside out and can help relieve dry, itchy skin. However, it can be difficult to figure out if your pooch's food contains the proper balance of EFAs because omega 3 fatty acid is not recognized as an essential nutrient in the canine diet, so it does not have to be listed on dog food labels. Look for ingredients such as fish oil or salmon oil to ensure Pepper’s food contains a fair amount of EFAs. If she has specific dietary needs and her food can't be changed, consult your veterinarian about the amount and type of fish oil to add to her food.
Jojoba oil is a colorless, odorless oil that moisturizes skin, inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and is non-greasy to boot. It’s found in many dog shampoos and conditioners, and for good reason. It lightly clings to your pup's skin and coat after her bath, continuing to moisturize and soften her skin for days. You can also use jojoba oil as a topical treatment for any of Pepper’s itchy, flaky areas. Gently rub a bit of the oil directly onto her skin using a damp washcloth or cotton pad. Don’t let her eat it, though. Ingesting jojoba oil could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
If you’re looking for an oil to soothe your furry friend's skin while putting a little more pep in her step, coconut oil may be the one. Fed regularly, coconut oil has been shown to increase energy, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, clear up skin conditions such as eczema and flea dermatitis as well as prevent fungal infections. Naturopathic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker recommends feeding your pup 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil for every 10 pounds of her body weight twice a day for best results.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.