How to Care for Your Pet's Skin this Winter Season

Photo by Patrick Lienin / Photocase

Photo by Patrick Lienin / Photocase

Like humans, winter conditions can be troubling to our furry friends too.  Winter brings cold, dry air, rain, sleet, and snow. Dry, cold weather can do a number on your pet’s skin.  Constant exposure to these conditions can create chapped paws and itchy skin. 

Let’s talk about things we can do to help protect your pets from the elements and ease any discomfort during this winter season.

Healthy diet

Feeding your dog a high quality food, and ensuring that there are adequate levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is essential to maintaining healthy skin.  Consider adding a supplement specific for their skin and coat or coconut oil, which is a natural moisturizer that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy.

Shampoo less often

Soaps and shampoos strip skin of its natural oils and dry it out, causing flaky, itchy skin. If you must bathe your dog, try a simple water bath or use a shampoo that is made for sensitive skin. If your dog’s skin is irritated, try an oatmeal bath or moisturizing shampoo. 

Groom your dog

Brushing with a soft brush will improve blood circulation, stimulate hair follicles, release natural oils, and remove dead skin cells.  Coconut oil or Vitamin E oil can be applied topically to any dry patchy areas.  Trim long hair to minimize the accumulation of ice, salt and deicing chemicals.

Winter roads and sidewalks can be dangerous for your pet’s paws. 

  • Trim the fur between the pads to prevent ice buildup

  • After being outside, rinse and/or wipe the pads to clean off any salt or deicer

  • Apply a paw salve to help dry, cracked paws

  • Consider booties when they go outside to protect your dog’s paws from the salt and ice

  • Use a pet friendly deicer that will not burn your pet’s paws


Keep your pet hydrated

Your dog burns more energy trying to stay warm during winter, so it’s easy to become dehydrated. Make sure you pet’s water dish is always full.  If they have a bowl outside, make sure it is plastic, so their tongue will not become frozen to the side of the bowl.

Indoor environment is important too

Avoid dry air inside by using a humidifier. Also, avoid using deodorizers or other chemical products that can cause irritation.

If you see your dog excessively scratching during the winter season, don’t hesitate to visit your veterinarian. Skin that has become too dry can cause enough scratching that your dog can wound himself and cause secondary infections. 

Paying special attention to your pet’s wellbeing this winter season will help to ensure that the both of you will enjoy what winter has to offer. 

Oh, and don’t forget to snuggle your pet, it’s a great way for everybody to keep warm!

Judy Luff is a certified homeopath located in West Newbury, Massachusetts. To learn more about homeopathy and how it can help you and your pets, please contact her at

Brenda Riddell