Caring for the skin on a dog is not as difficult as you may think. Just because it is covered with fur does not mean that it doesn't require care as well. Consider your own scalp; it is covered with hair, but do you not still need to take care of it? The same applies to dog skin. Here we will discuss the steps that you need to take in order to properly care for your dog.
Use products made specifically for dogs. This is extremely important. Products made for humans are too harsh for dog skin. Similarly, products made for other animals are not right for canine skin which is a lot different. If you use harsh chemicals on your dog, you can do a lot of damage. You can cause horrible skin rashes. The dog's hair may even fall out, in patches or in its entirety. In some cases, this causes the dog to be so itchy that he literally chews his own fur off, and scrapes his own skin with his teeth, leaving raw and open wounds, which can begin to fester if left untreated.
Use lotion, and brush regularly. You might be thinking "lotion on my dog?!" And the answer is: yes. They make special lotions and oils for dogs, and these are very helpful, especially if your dog suffers from a skin disease, or has dry and flaky skin. Did you know that dogs can even get dandruff? Lotion and oils rubbed directly onto the dog and massaged into the dog skin can help to alleviate aggravation, as well as prevent itching and irritation.
Regular brushing helps as well, because it prevents matting of the fur, which can cause painful rashes to develop that can quickly become infected. This helps to keep dog skin from getting irritated.
Identify any special problems that your dog might have. Is your dog's skin sensitive to harsh chemicals? This is common, and easily diagnosed by simple observation. After you wash your canine companion, dry him off partially and let him run around where you can observe his behavior. Is he scratching or biting at himself? Is he scratching his back end on the floor? Does he seem restless or uncomfortable?
If so, your dog is not reacting well to the product that you've been using on his dog skin. Often, switching to an organic, all-natural shampoo and lotion will do the trick, but if it persists, there may be something more going on.
If your dog continues to have problems even after following the above advice, you may need a dog skin expert to take a look at him. Take him to a dog groomer or - if the condition is severe - a veterinarian. They can run tests to discover whether your dog has some sort of allergy or skin condition - such an eczema - that may require special care or medication.
Having trouble keeping your dog still during grooming? Try treats. It may seem like a bribe, but you'll find over time that your dog will start to equate the good behavior with your praise and treats, and you'll have him holding his position during brushing in no time.
Avoid using blowdryers or other heat tools to excess. This can severely dry out your dog's skin, and if you are not careful or you hold the dryer too close, you can actually cause burns.
Sources and Citations
Source: years of personal experience with rescue dogs