by ANDREW M. STREIBER, DVM

Q:  My dog has very dry skin.  When I comb her, it comes off like dandruff.  What can I do?

 A:  As we move from the summer months into the traditionally drier months of fall and winter, animal skin (the integument), just like human skin, requires increased maintenance in the form of moisture protection.  With less moisture in the air and people turning on their heaters, a pet’s environment becomes even drier.  As a result, pet owners might notice their cats and dogs skin flaking more than normally.

An animal’s skin is both its largest organ and primary protective barrier, so it’s vital to maintain its integrity.  One of the easiest, most effective ways to do this is by supplementing your pet’s daily meals with additional amounts of Omega 3s, Omega 6s and flax seeds (an excellent source of Omega 3s — be sure to avoid yellow flax as it’s lower in this short-chain fatty acid).

Daily pet dietary supplementation with these fatty acids has been scientifically shown to strengthen the skin as a barrier to the world, increase the overall health of an animal’s fur or coat, and may reduce the symptoms of a pet’s allergic dermatitis if that pet has been diagnosed with airborne environmental allergies (atopy).

Pet specific supplements are available over-the-counter at any pet supply retailer.  You may also use supplements purchased from a human vitamin store.