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Bentley & Friends: winter, the season of itching

Does your dog suffer from wintertime itching? Here's some tips to make them more comfortable.

NORFOLK, Va. — For pets, dry, itchy, scratchy skin is the byproduct of winter months across Hampton Roads. 

Cold temperatures and extremely dry air makes for an uncomfortable time for our animals. This week, Chesapeake veterinarian Dr. Denette Cooke shared some solutions for the season of scratching. 

Winter - aside from bringing us chances for snow and cold temperatures - is also responsible for extremely dry air, and increased itching comes with the very low humidity.  

Although not harmful, it certainly can be very uncomfortable. If that itching is producing flakes, Cooke said it's important to pay attention to the size of those flakes. 

“So if we have really dry flakes, really small dry flakes usually that is just normal exfoliation, nothing to worry about. If it is larger flakes then we might have an infection going on," Cooke explained.

She said there are simple, yet very effective, ways to ease the suffering of our pets in the winter.  

“Things you can do is bathe your dog more frequently, use an oatmeal shampoo... you can also use a little Aveno packet, where you make your own little oatmeal conditioner,” Cooke said.

Here are some tips for the bathing part: make sure to dry your dog thoroughly, because moisture left on skin will lead to more itching. Also, the temperature of the water matters. 

“If you use warm water, it is going to make them more itchy because you’re going to release those histamines in the skin and make them more itchy, so use lukewarm water at the hottest," Cooke said.

Just pat your dogs dry and try not to use a hairdryer that blows hot air; if you warm them up too much, it may lead to more itching. 

The vet said adding a humidifier could do wonders. 

“You could do a cool-mist humidifier, maybe particularly where the dog lays or in one area of the house," she said. "It's also good for people.”

All in all, the months will pass and warmer, more humid air will return, leading to a more comfortable environment for our pets.