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There are a whole host of reasons why a dog might have dry, itchy skin. Some of the most common causes are weather changes, humidity changes, poor nutrition, and food allergies.
If you suspect that your dog’s dry skin is being caused by a food allergy, it’s important to figure out which food or ingredient is causing the problem and take immediate steps to address it with a new diet.
Even if the dry skin is caused by something else, many dry dog foods on the market are specially formulated to nourish and moisturize the skin & coat. But the sheer number of options may be overwhelming, so how do you narrow them down to the best picks?
Don’t worry — this article is just what you need. We’ll review and compare our picks for the best dry dog foods for dry, itchy skin across several different brands.
All of these foods have shown great results for dogs with dry skin.
Our Top Dry Dog Food Picks For Dry, Itchy Skin
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:
- Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato Dry Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult Dry Dog Food
- AvoDerm Original Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Dog Food
- Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food
1. Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato Dry Dog Food
Not only is this dog food from Diamond Naturals formulated for a healthy skin and coat, but it’s also grain-free, so if your dog’s dry skin is caused by allergic reactions, you’re well taken care of.
This is a best-selling dog food. Ultimate skin and coat nourishment comes from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, canola and flaxseed, and vitamin E.
Diamond Naturals is a family-owned and run business that makes their dog food in the USA with trusted, sustainable ingredients.
The main ingredient of this recipe, wild-caught salmon, provides a high-quality protein source for your dog. The amino acid profile is optimized for strong, lean muscles.
The food also contains:
- energy-rich carbs such as potatoes
- antioxidants from superfoods that provide immune system support
- added vitamins and minerals
- proprietary, species-specific probiotics
This recipe contains essential hypoallergenic ingredients with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, filler, corn or wheat. A full list of ingredients and guaranteed analysis information can be found here.
Customers like how this dog food is more affordable than most other grain-free options. It really does wonders for dry, itchy skin.
2. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult Dry Dog Food
This Hill’s Science Diet formula pulls out all the stops when it comes to nourishing your dog’s skin and coat — omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin C and E, and soybean oil all work to clear up that dryness.
Formulated for sensitive skin and stomachs, it contains chicken and barley as the main ingredients. Other ingredients include yellow peas, brown rice, brewers rice, and whole grain sorghum.
As mentioned above, this dry dog food contains vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids that nourish the skin and promote a healthy, shiny coat. Other benefits include:
- prebiotic fiber that supports a balanced microbiome and fuels bacteria in the gut
- promotion of optimal digestive health, with optimal nutrient absorption and cleaner stools
- easy digestion and gentle on the stomach
This Hill’s Science Diet formula is made in the USA with trusted, natural ingredients. It’s available in 4, 15.5, 24 and 30 pound bags.
Hill’s is the #1 recommended brand of U.S. veterinarians. So many dog owners have amazing results with this food, and many veterinarians will indeed recommend it to their clients. It has been tested using AAFCO procedures.
3. AvoDerm Original Skin & Coat Dry Dog Food
AvoDerm is an excellent dog food brand known for its use of avocados in recipes. Avocados are rich in nutrients, quality fiber, omegas, and vitamins A, C and E, all of which contribute to a nourished, healthy skin and coat.
Their Original Skin & Coat formula has a high average rating. It’s suitable for all breeds and all life stages.
The main ingredients in this recipe are chicken and brown rice. Benefits include:
- natural ingredients with high-quality proteins
- avocados which contain vitamins A, C, E, and B6 as well as fatty acids for skin moisturizing
- a compact design for reduced carbon emissions
- balanced nutrition with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
- pressure-cooked and highly digestible
This formula contains no artificial flavour or preservatives, meat by-product, soy, corn, peas, potatoes or legumes.
AvoDerm has made their dry dog food in their California plant for over thirty years, with ingredients sourced from the best countries around the world.
This dry dog food has been a “game-changer” for dogs with some of the worst dry and itchy skin problems. Read some success stories here.
4. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Adult Dry Dog Food
This dry dog food formula offers a lot to dogs with dry skin. It contains fish oil which is rich in EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A for skin moisturization and coat nourishment.
Purina is one of the best, most reputable dog food brands out there. Their premium Pro Plan foods are considered the “trusted food of champions”.
This recipe is formulated specifically for gentle nourishment of sensitive skin and stomachs. It contains real salmon and rice, although a lamb and oat meal formula is available as well. The ingredients are easily digestible.
The dog food, which is made in the USA:
- promotes immune and digestive health through fortified live probiotics
- contains omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin & coat
- contains no corn, wheat, soy, artificial colours, artificial flavours, or poultry by-product meal
While we feature the adult food here, there are also formulas available for puppies, seniors, large breeds and small breeds. This particular food dry dog food can be purchased in 5, 16 and 30 pound bags.
This food works very nicely with dogs who have a hard time tolerating other kinds of dog food. We find that it does wonders for the skin as well as the digestive system, and many veterinarians use it for their own dogs.
5. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food
Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities is a special, veterinary-exclusive dry dog food — you’ll need permission from your vet before you can even order it.
Consisting of all-natural ingredients and suitable for all breeds, it is specially formulated by pet nutritionists and veterinarians to prevent skin and digestive adverse food reactions. To help achieve this, it uses one purified carbohydrate source and hydrolyzed animal protein.
This formula is enriched with essential fatty acids. It promotes a healthy skin barrier and should deliver noticeable improvements to your dog’s skin and coat within 30 days. It also:
- helps normalize stool with natural fiber
- supports immune system health with clinically proven antioxidants
- contains high levels of vitamin E
This dry dog food does not contain any soy, lactose, gluten, artificial preservatives, flavours or colours.
You should seriously consider Hill’s Prescription Diet if, in addition to your dog having dry, itchy skin, it experiences red spots, scabbing, flaky or scaly patches, bad skin odour, hair loss, or otherwise has serious health problems. Consult your vet for more insight.
The food is pricey, but trust us, it’s worth it. Note that it’s been a little difficult to find as of late, so you may have to look around.
In this section, we’ll discuss food allergies in dogs and tell you what to look out for when choosing a dry dog food that will not only keep your dog in optimal health, but also bring back its nourished skin and shiny coat.
It’s worth noting that most dry dog foods suitable for dry skin are also ideal for sensitive skin and sensitive stomachs.
Signs And Symptoms Of Food Allergies
In dogs, signs of food allergies typically start to manifest after the dog reaches one year old, but some allergies or sensitivities can begin at any age.
Some of the most common symptoms and signs of food allergies in a dog are:
- red, irritated skin
- rashes on feet and ears
How To Address Your Dog’s Dry, Itchy Skin Through Its Diet
Diet plays a vital role in your dog’s health, and when you are looking for a recipe for a dog that has dry skin and/or allergies, you need to look at the ingredients carefully.
The first thing is to avoid dry dog foods that contain preservatives, fillers, and artificial ingredients. Excellent, healthy nutrition begins with real food, and it ends up paying dividends at all stages of your dog’s life through a boosted immune system.
Of course, the best thing to do is consult your veterinarian when deciding on a dry dog food for dry, itchy skin. Here are some of the things to look out for:
If your dog has dry skin, try going grain-free. Grain-free dog food is recommended to dogs that have a sensitivity to wheat, corn, or other grains. These foods have the advantage of being gluten-free.
Having said this, while some dogs respond well to a quality grain-free diet, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right choice for all breeds and individuals.
Grains are actually an excellent nutrient source for dogs. For example, brown rice is a great source of fiber. This is why we only recommend going grain-free if necessary.
If you think that your dog has food sensitivities, try to limit gluten, preservatives, and artificial colors and focus on high-protein food. You can select dry foods such as fish meal or chicken meal with nutritious ingredients.
After changing your dog’s diet, you may start to see results (such as a smooth and shiny coat) within a few weeks.
Coconut oil can be an excellent addition to a dog’s diet that helps improve coat health and reduce allergic reactions. Offer your dog to lick it from the spoon directly or mix a small portion into its food twice a day.
Start with a quarter teaspoon every day for small puppies and one teaspoon for large dogs. You can use up to one teaspoon every 10 pounds of body weight every day. Be sure to introduce it gradually into its diet because otherwise it can upset the digestive system.
Olive oil can also be very beneficial for clearing up dry skin. Other beneficial oils include sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil.
Natural Topical Treatments
Oatmeal is an ideal moisturizing and nourishing agent that can relieve irritations and balance pH levels. It will typically provide immediate relief.
You can use oatmeal shampoo or make an oatmeal rinse by grinding up oats in a blender until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Add the oatmeal mix to the dog’s bath and mix it thoroughly until the bath water turns milky. Soak your dog and rinse it off gently.
Another great topical solution to soothe your dog’s dry skin is to make a paste of baking soda. To do this, mix a solution of water and baking soda in equal parts until a thick paste forms. Apply it to the dog’s skin, let it sit for about 20 minutes, and rinse it off.
You can also offer oatmeal directly as a meal or add it to your dog’s food.
Another thing to do is give your dog supplements, namely fish oil and omega fatty acids. Many dry dog foods contain these supplements, but you can also add them separately to your dog’s diet.
The most common fatty acid added to dog food formulas is omega-6, followed by omega-3. Another supplement that helps moisturize the skin, in addition to providing many other benefits, is vitamin E.
In a nutshell, when choosing the best dry dog food for dogs with dry skin, look for formulas that:
- are grain-free
- contain oils such as fish oil
- contain omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids
- contain vitamin E or A
Grain-free diets will prevent any allergic reactions that cause dry skin. Oils, omega fatty acids, and vitamin E all help to moisturize the skin and improve coat health.
Of course, the dry dog food you choose doesn’t have to tick every one of the boxes above, but the more the better. Going grain-free isn’t necessary if your dog’s dry skin is not caused by an allergy.
An added bonus is being able to find a particular customer review where the owner of a dog with dry skin has had great results.
It is always worth it when your dog is as happy and healthy as it can possibly be, and the food it eats is a big contributor to that. We’ve given you the information you need to make a decision; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
As we alluded to above, it can also be very beneficial to look at the customer reviews for various dog foods to make sure they’re not causing bad reactions in other dogs. This can help you a great deal in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. Which dry dog food are you interested in for your dog? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.