Winter Skin Care for Dogs

Winter skin care for dogs involves keeping their skin moisturized, avoiding chemical burns and frostbite, and addressing allergies. Follow these tips to keep your pup’s skin in tip-top shape in winter!

Dry skin, flaking, itching, cracked paws. Winter can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin, including their nose and paws. Dry air, ice melt chemicals, allergens, wind, and cold can all take a toll. Luckily, there are things you can do to keep your pup safe! Here are some tips about winter skin care for dogs from Dr. Ian Spiegel and Dr. Linda Simon.

Protect the Nose with a Balm

Cold weather and wind can cause your dog’s nose to become dry and rough. In some dogs, the outer layer of skin might even thicken and harden, called nasal hyperkeratosis. Untreated, it can cause the skin of the nose to become brittle and crack. To prevent and treat dry skin on the nose, you should:

  • Make sure your dog stays hydrated all winter
  • Avoid going outside in extreme cold
  • Apply a moisturizing balm that contains shea butter and seed oils

Contact your veterinarian if the skin on the nose starts to thicken. Your dog may need a topical ointment and additional vitamins.

Protect Paws from Dangerous Ice Melts

Conventional ice melts contain harsh chemicals like salt and chloride that can cause burns, redness, irritation, and swelling on the paws. What’s more, many ice melts have sharp edges that can cut your dog’s paws and skin. On your property, the best way to prevent this is to use a pet-safe ice melt that won’t hurt paws and that’s non-toxic if a dog or cat ingests it. Boots and paw balms can help protect your dog’s paws in other places. If your dog does walk in an area treated with ice melt, rinse their paws with warm water when you get home. This will keep their paws safe and prevent them from ingesting dangerous chemicals.

Keep Skin Moisturized

Dogs can get dry, flaking skin any time of year, but it’s especially common in the winter because of the cold temperatures, wind, and hot, dry air inside the house. Here are the top tips for winter skin care for dogs to prevent dry, flaking skin:

  • Run a humidifier in the house
  • Don’t bathe your pup too often
  • Use a moisturizing shampoo when you do give them a bath
  • Feed a complete and balanced diet with all the essential fatty acids
  • Don’t let them sit in front of the fire or a hot air vent for too long
  • Brush them daily to help distribute natural oils
  • Supplement their diet with additional omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Prevent Skin Damage from Frostbite

Dogs can get frostbite, especially on their ears, tails, and paws. To avoid frostbite, stay inside during periods of extreme cold and make sure your dog always has access to somewhere warm and dry. Clothing and boots are also beneficial, and protective waxes can help too. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, warm the skin with warm (not hot) water and call your veterinarian.

Don’t Forget About Winter Allergies

Environmental and seasonal allergies can be terrible for the skin because they cause itching, redness, infections, and hair loss. In the winter, dust is one of the biggest culprits for dogs with allergies, but they can also be allergic to pine trees and other plants associated with the winter holidays. You can help your dog by dusting regularly, keeping a clutter-free home, using a hypoallergenic bed, washing their bed regularly, opting for artificial trees and decorations, and talking to your veterinarian about the best way to manage their symptoms.

These tips about winter skin care for dogs will help keep your pup happy and healthy all winter long and keep them safe from things like chemical burns, frostbite, and allergies.


Animal Wellness is North America’s top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.


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