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Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Dry skin can be an uncomfortable issue for pets in the winter, but natural oils can help

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by SingChan

Spending so much time outdoors with clients each day, I can tell you that I'm feeling effects of the winter weather: the dry skin, mostly — on my hands especially! Along with the outdoor cold, the lack of natural humidity and indoor heat really can tax our skin.

But we humans aren't the only ones that get dry, itchy skin — our pets are affected just the same, barring any health issues that would go hand-in-hand with this sort of thing. And while we can slather on moisturizer topically, that's just not an option for pets.

Dogs and cats can benefit from the use of a humidifier and a healthy diet that supports overall integrity and health of the skin, but another great way to address the vexing problem of dryness is to go the internal route: diet. A high quality pet food is essential (click here for resources). And a little extra help is as close as your pantry — no special or expensive products from the pet store are necessary.

If you have two common oils on hand — olive or coconut — you're set.

Olive oil is ideal because it contains healthy phytonutrients, vitamin E and antioxidants, and is stable and is easily digestible. Cold-pressed is best, and you can add olive oil right into your dog’s food. As a rule of thumb, use a teaspoon or so per day for a pooch that 30-40 pounds, or up to a tablespoon for a dog that's roughly 90 pounds. For cats, just a few drops is necessary.

Coconut oil — my personal favorite because of its versatility, many health benefits and yummy taste — might be an option for your pup as well. Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids, and is an abundant source of lauric acid, and according to Dr. Deva Khaksa, VMD and author of Natural Dog; A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs, it's believed to be effective in treating viruses, bacteria and yeast.

One half to one teaspoon daily on your pet's chow is enough for a medium-sized dog, and slightly more for large breeds. Easily digestible, coconut oil is also thought to enhance metabolism.

Both oils should be kept in a cool, dark place for maximum efficacy.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly.



Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Great idea. I think I'll try it on our dog and cat. Thanx!

Sarah Rigg

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

I second the recommendation of running a humidifier as well. It helps keep their skin from drying out and you can pet them without getting shocked or shocking them. I will keep the olive oil idea in mind- much less smelly than fish oil supplements.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Great info. Aside from salmon oil (very stinky) I hadn't thought about other additives for dry skin. The humidifier is a must-have in our household. Otherwise the static electricity builds up to the point of energizing a light bulb.