Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by The Puppy Mag
If your Vizsla has dry skin you’ll want to know what’s causing it and how to best resolve it. Dry skin not only looks unpleasant but can feel unpleasant too. There are quite a few possible causes, and it is essential to get to the bottom of things to provide the correct treatment.
While dry skin is not an emergency and is unlikely to lead to any significant health issues, it should not be ignored. The discomfort that goes hand in hand with dry skin can lead to itching and secondary bacterial or yeast infections. In addition, dry skin can be a sign of a chronic health condition, so it is worth paying attention to.
10 Common Causes Of Dry Skin In Vizsla
There is more than one cause of dry skin, and sometimes it can take a little detective work to determine what is going on with your Vizsla.
Really, we should be looking at dry skin as an indication that something is not quite right, rather than as a condition in itself. It can often tell us that the dog’s body is out of balance and informs us we need to dig a little deeper.
Possible causes for dry skin can include:
An underactive thyroid gland results in an endocrine disorder known as hypothyroidism. Vizslas tend to develop this condition when middle-aged or older. Signs can include lethargy, weight gain, heat-seeking behavior, and chronic skin issues.
Skin issues including flaking, dryness, and alopecia may all be present. Dogs may also develop a ‘rat tail’ and hyperpigmentation (dark skin). Blood tests can confirm the diagnosis, and it can usually be very well managed with daily medication.
2. Too many baths
Correct bathing frequency is widely misunderstood, and rightfully so, as it can change from breed to breed. In general, for Vizslas, bathing should be relatively infrequent, and they should receive a bath no more than once every 3-4 months.
Overbathing, especially with harsh shampoos (which most regular pet shampoos are), will strip their natural oils, leaving them dry and irritated.
3. Cushing’s Disease
Another hormonal disease, those who have Cushing’s disease can be quite unwell. These Vizslas may have a bloated abdomen, excessive panting, and increased thirst and hunger. In addition, their skin and coat will be in poor condition.
The dry skin that occurs in this disease is due to ‘hyperkeratosis.’ This is a thickening of the outer layer of skin. Once treatment is started, the skin should improve within about 6-8 weeks.
4. Sebaceous Adenitis
The Vizsla is genetically prone to this skin disease. On top of dry and flaky skin, dogs may have fur loss and large-scale formation. Importantly, dogs are rarely itchy (unless a secondary bacterial infection has manifested).
Topical therapies to break down the excess keratin should be used, as well as medicated shampoos and creams.
5. Improper diet or a malabsorptive disease
When a dog’s diet is lacking in specific nutrients, their skin can suffer and dry out. This is especially true when dogs are not fed enough omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A.
In some cases, the Vizsla will be fed an adequate diet but may be unable to utilize the nutrients. This can occur in some intestinal diseases, whereby the gut is too damaged to absorb the food properly.
Some parasitic infestations, such as Cheyletiella mites, can cause dry skin. Parasites can be easily diagnosed and treated by your vet. However, they may need to do some basic tests (such as a close-up skin exam or skin scrape) to get a definitive diagnosis.
7. Atopic dermatitis
Many pedigrees (the Vizsla not excluded) can be prone to atopic dermatitis. This is because affected canines are allergic to things in their environment and/or diet.
As a result, these dogs will be itchy and often develop an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria on their skin. Anywhere on the body can be affected, but the belly, face, and paws tend to be hit the hardest. As well as dryness, you may notice that the skin is pink and inflamed.
It’s little wonder that a lack of hydration will lead to dehydrated/ chapped skin. Your dog needs to stay hydrated for many reasons, one of which is to support a healthy skin barrier. A dry and broken skin barrier can make a dog much more prone to infections and even allergies.
9. Overuse of certain medications such as corticosteroids
Certain medicines will lead to dried-out, unhealthy skin. Corticosteroids are a good example as, if over-used or misused, they can actually cause Cushing’s Disease. As discussed above, one of the main symptoms of Cushing’s is skin disease.
10. Epitheliotropic Lymphoma
This is rare cancer that can affect some unlucky Vizslas. Affected dogs tend to be senior patients, and they may have other signs such as large lymph nodes and weight loss. After a diagnosis (which is made by biopsying the skin), it is best to seek the advice of an oncologist.
Recommended Read: Why Do Vizslas Go Grey? And When Will It Happen?
How To Resolve Your Vizsla’s Dry Skin
No owner wants to see their beloved pet suffer, and dry skin is known for being uncomfortable. So how can we keep our Vizsla’s skin in tip-top shape?
Well, there are lots of things we can be doing! Not only will these measures help prevent dry skin, but they will also support a healthy coat and promote overall wellbeing. Let’s run through them.
First and foremost, ensure any underlying medical issue is diagnosed and treated. Until this is done, we are unlikely to be able to improve the condition and quality of the skin of your Vizsla.
● If you have your suspicions that the dry skin is being caused by medication, discuss with your vet if the dose may need to be changed or if there are any alternatives available.
● Provide your doggo with a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. This must be a complete diet: One which contains all the macronutrients and micronutrients needed by a dog. Ideally, feed a skin-supportive diet. This should be packed with ingredients such as Omega 3 fatty acids to strengthen that skin barrier as well as Biotin and Zinc.
● Consider giving a skin and coat supplement. These can usually be added to your Vizsla’s daily meal. Our favorite way to do this is with Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Fish Oil.
● Step away from the shampoo! You may be tempted to shampoo your dog with a moisturizing shampoo, but you aren’t doing them any good. Over-bathing will strip away the natural oils and lead to dry skin. Vizslas should only be bathed a few times a year and it’s best to switch out the harsh pet shampoos with a mild all-natural ingredient dog shampoo.
● Groom your Vizsla every day. This helps to spread the natural oils throughout their coat and helps prevent clogged pores. It can also stimulate oil production.
● Eliminate any allergens. If you have noticed your Vizsla has a sensitivity to, e.g., grass or dust, try to keep their allergens away from them. This will prevent inflammation and allow their skin to settle and heal.
Recommended Read: Why Does My Vizsla Have Diarrhea? How To Help
When To See Your Veterinarian
While dry skin is usually a cosmetic issue, this is not always the case.
In some cases, dry skin is our Vizsla’s body telling us something is wrong. If your dog has other symptoms (such as weight loss, an altered thirst, or itching), they need to be seen by a vet. Similarly, if their skin is foul-smelling, red, or broken, then this calls for veterinary help.
Additionally, there’s never a wrong moment to ask for help from you vet! If you are unsure on how to help your V then simply call you veterinarian right away to get your pooch back on the right track.
The take-home message
If you have noticed your Vizsla’s skin looking dry as of late, pay attention. Their body may be trying to tell you something. Sometimes, there is an obvious reason for this change. Perhaps you have been shampooing them every week or have stopped giving them their fish oil supplements. However, in many cases, the cause is not so obvious, and we need to take a closer look at things.
More on Vizslas