How Do I Cure My Cat's Dry Skin?

Find out different causes and solutions for dry skin in cats.

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Q: My cat has really dry skin and sometimes he pulls his hair out. Is there anything I can do to help his dry skin?  I already give him food that is specially formulated for sensitive skin and use a humidifier but neither seem to help much.

A: Good nutrition is important for cats to maintain a healthy, shiny coat. I would feed only a high-quality, name brand food and not a store brand or generic food.
Cats with dry skin might respond to an omega-3 fatty acid supplement added to their diet. Talk to your veterinarian about this. I’ve had excellent success in many cases using these supplements.
Bathing your cat too frequently can be a cause of dry skin, so only bathe your cat when it’s truly necessary (i.e. if the hair coat is soiled with grease or dirt, etc.). If you do bathe your cat, use a conditioning rinse. The conditioner should be one specifically designed for cats and not for people. In addition, comb your cat often to remove loose hair and dandruff flakes. 

While it is likely that what you describe is just dry skin, if your cat is itchy as well, (you didn’t indicate in your letter whether he is) the dry skin might be a manifestation of an itchy skin disorder, such as allergies, parasites or a skin infection. Have your veterinarian examine your cat and make sure that it is just a case of dry skin. 

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Reader Comments

heidi    International

4/5/2015 12:59:57 PM

hi i have bin the vet thay gave her injecton but it did not work for my cat she has dry flakey skin what can i put on it united kingdom pleas help gowing to vet did not help

michelle    Fayetteville, TN

8/3/2014 10:44:23 AM cat also was pulling her hair out and I used to get her a steroid shot as well..then my vet doc told me to give her food that isn't red cause the red in it irritates her so I started her on Purina One chicken and rice and she stopped pulling her hair out and has been furry n happy lol. :)

Ellen    Wood River, IL

12/17/2013 12:11:01 PM

I have a cat that also bites her hair out. She has been to the vet and he gave her a steroid shot. I worked for maybe 2 months and she started doing it again. You can see the flakes in her hair. I do brush her, but even after I do that she still tries to bite her hair out. I put a soft cone around her head to prevent the biting but her front paws on the end she can still get to. I wake up in the morning and find hair on the carpet where she scratched some out. I have had her on the best expensive food an that does not help either. Any ideas what to do?

Francesca    San Diego, CA

6/14/2013 1:04:47 AM

I rub my organic apricot oil that I use on my body on my cat or tsubaki oil. Both are safe and natural ways to help. If you can, shave or even trim the thick fur where the dry patches are then rub in the oil. My cat gets dry flaky skin in the summer, so I shave him to let his skin breathe.

Olive oil is good too I think. I recommend applying directly to your cat. Hmmm, also try wet food if you have not already. If they don't like it, give them a little bit along with the dry. Then eventually just give them wet once a day.

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