Many dogs develop dry skin from time to time. While it's important to find out what's causing the dryness, a little olive oil can help ease the discomfort and provide some much-needed moisturization.
Supplement Your Dog With Olive Oil
There are many reasons a dog develops dry skin. Sometimes it's due to an underlying illness; other times it may be due to the seasonal climate. It can even be caused by a dietary deficiency. Dry skin isn't difficult to spot; it tends to look pale and a little parched or flaky. In comparison, healthy skin glistens slightly, and there are no flakes of skin on the scalp or in the fur. Olive oil offers a safe, natural solution for dry skin. If you're concerned about whether olive oil is toxic to dogs, you are perfectly safe feeding it to your dog unless your dog is allergic to it.
Feeding Olive Oil to Your Dog
In Natural Dog, author and veterinarian Deva Khalsa recommends feeding dogs cold-pressed virgin olive oil because the fatty acid and vitamin E content can help keep their skin moisturized. You can use extra virgin olive oil as well but make sure the oil you use is plain without any additional flavorings or herbs. Other types of olive oil will work as well, but virgin and extra virgin olive oil have a lower acid content than other varieties. She recommends adding anywhere from one teaspoon to one tablespoon of oil to your pet's food daily. The recommended amount is one teaspoon in his food for a dog around 30 to 40 pounds and a half of a tablespoon twice a day if the dog is 90 pounds or more. The general rule is that the amount you use depends on your dog's size and how dry his skin is, so it's best to consult your vet about the correct amount to feed your dog. Giving him too much could cause loose stools or diarrhea so you should avoid giving a dog more than a half tablespoon at one meal. If you notice your dog is getting diarrhea even on a small dose, consult your vet as this could mean he is allergic.
Using Olive Oil on Your Dog's Skin
Olive oil is safe for your dog's skin and has many benefits for dogs with dry or itchy skin. For extra fast relief, you can apply olive oil directly to your pet's skin because it penetrates deeply to moisturize. Vet Info recommends adding five to ten drops of oil to approximately one cup of water, and then using your hands to massage the mixture into your pet's skin wherever it looks dry. It's also a good idea to wipe the excess oil off his coat with some paper towel. You can use this treatment as often as once per day until your dog's skin looks healthy again. After that, occasional treatments should be sufficient to keep his skin moisturized.
Olive Oil and Sun Damage
Another benefit of putting olive oil on your dog's skin is protecting against UV radiation which can lead to cancer. You can also use it to soothe your dog's nose after a sunburn. Just gently dab some oil on his nose. If your dog is also suffering from irritated paw pads along with a sunburned nose due to hot weather, you can warm some olive oil and gently massage it on his feet.
Olive Oil for Constipation in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from constipation, consult with your vet about using some olive oil. Use the recommended dose above and watch his stools the following day. You'll want to make sure they're healthy as adding too much oil can lead to diarrhea.
Reduce Shedding and Dandruff
Dogs that shed a lot can benefit from some olive oil in their diets. Because shedding can increase when a dog has itchy or dry skin, using olive oil will not only make their skin and coat healthier but reduce shedding. Another side effect of dry, irritated skin and skin allergies is dandruff and adding olive oil to their diet to improve their skin can reduce dandruff. Check with your vet first though as dandruff can be a sign of other more serious medical conditions. Add one teaspoon per 15 pounds but no more than a half tablespoon at any one meal to help with both shedding and dandruff.
Olive Oil and Flea Control
A natural solution to preventing fleas on your dog involves olive oil. You can mix any of these essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, or cedar in a base of olive oil and put in a spray bottle. Spray lightly on your dog and avoid getting any in his eyes or on his face as the smell can be quite intense for a dog's heightened sense of smell. If your dog already has fleas, you can put some olive oil directly on his skin to kill them. Again, avoid his eyes and face and start around the back of his head and administer the oil along his back to this tail. Wait approximately three to four hours and then rinse the oil off his skin.
Can You Give Olive Oil to Puppies?
Puppies can benefit from olive oil added to their food just as adult dogs do. You'll need to reduce the dosage and monitor your puppy for diarrhea. Feed approximately one-third of a teaspoon (100-150 mg) for every 10 pounds, but don't feed more than a half teaspoon at any one meal.
When to Avoid Using Olive Oil
Using olive oil directly on your dog's skin can be good for him, but there is one situation where you want to avoid it. According to Dr. Jane Laura Doyle in an article published at Dogs Naturally, you shouldn't use olive oil on your pet's skin if he has any open sores or wounds. This is because the oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and she feels it can interfere with the body's natural healing process. You can still apply the oil to provide relief for his dry skin in other areas; just avoid applying oil any place his scratching has broken the skin.
Consult Your Vet
A little dry skin may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes it's a sign of something more serious. This is especially true if feeding olive oil or applying it to your dog's skin doesn't have the desired effect. According to Vet Info, some of the underlying health conditions that produce dry skin as a symptom include:
If your dog's skin doesn't improve and he develops hair loss or any other unusual symptoms, you should have your vet examine him to diagnose the root cause of the condition and make sure he receives proper treatment.
Check Your Dog's Skin Regularly
Dry skin is easier to deal with if you treat it when you first notice it. Brush through your pet's fur at least once a week to look for scaly skin and flakes, and begin using olive oil right away as needed. If your pet has frequent bouts of dry skin, ask your vet to help you figure out why.