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Itchy and dry all over
By Jessica Turquette – co-owner of Moab BARKery

There are so many people here in Moab that enjoy the summers and warmer weather, so it comes as no surprise that I hear many complaints as soon as the average temperature drops into the cold. The desert dwellers often ask what can be done to keep their pet’s skin happy and healthy through the cold winters here, and I have a few great suggestions that have come from research, holistic vets and even customers themselves.

Humidity is so low here year round it has an ultra-drying effect on just about everything. In the summer we run swamp coolers which keep our homes cool but also provide humidity. The winter brings cold temperatures and even lower humidity, but we turn on the heat instead which compounds that drying effect. A simple humidifier running regularly help keep you and Fido breathing better during these dry months but it also helps keep you from becoming raisins too! A simple but effective solution.

Bathing your dog in the winter is much more of a process than taking them out back and hosing them off with the garden hose. It is however vital that they stay clean in the winter, if not for anything other than you will all be in close quarters until the landscape starts to thaw out. Most dogs only need to be bathed once a month, but many can go longer without smelling too bad. In order to keep them smelling fresh without a bath we recommend a spray-on coat conditioner and a regular weekly brushing. The benefit here is that the coat conditioner helps keep their skin and coat hydrated and they smell lovely afterwards. Their skin gets dry when we spend so much time in heated homes. By brushing them weekly you can reduce the amount of pet hair in your home as well as distribute oils throughout their coat to keep them shiny. If you do want to keep your pet cleaner than a brushing, we recommend pet wipes or a wipe down with a warm wash cloth. Daily or weekly cleansing for their paws, face and underbelly will get rid of many common winter irritants like snow melt, grime and the occasional poop-sicle that gets stuck in snowy paws and fur. Also consider a dog towel at the front door. By wiping them down after a good romp in the backyard snow you can keep your house, pets and their bedding much cleaner.

Even if you bath your pooch regularly you may notice that their skin is dry, and it gets much worse in the winter. Well there are many factors that contribute to a dull coat such as a grain heavy diet, skin allergies and certain illnesses. There is a big benefit in adding complex omega oils into your pet’s diet and often in doing so will make their coat shiny and strong from the inside out. Complex omegas are found in many oils, but dogs benefit most from oils that are animal based. Fish oils are a great way to add omegas into their diet without too much hassle. We recommend Sardine and Polluck oils as they are much lower in mercury risk yet fairly high in omegas. The highest omega rich fish oil is Salmon, but it comes with a higher mercury risk too. By adding these supplements to your dog’s diet you will find they love the taste and in a few weeks they should be glossy and softer to the touch. I have fed my dogs fish oils for years and they always look great.

There is also another winter benefit to fish oils, and that would be joint support. We all feel the cold as we get older, and so does your dog. By giving your dog fish oils you do double duty for skin and joint issues. Older dogs can often become picky eaters, and find the taste of these omega rich fish oils a welcome addition to any meal. Fish oils provide some of the same support that glucosamine does, and will help provide the lubrication needed to be an active hiker, or a comfortable couch potato. The only thing to beware of is that fish oils are pure fat, so just a little goes a long way. If your dog has had pancreatic issues, or GI issues related to fat please consider another option, fish oil may be too much fat.

Have you tried all these things I mentioned before and still have an itchy dry pooch? Well there are certain illnesses and medications that cause dry skin, so always check with your vet if you have tried many approaches and your pup is still dry and flaky. Many dogs that do suffer with dry skin will benefit from a mask and it will not pose any risk other than being a bit messy. Older dogs, and very short hair dogs will benefit from this procedure the most, but all dogs will love this spa treatment. Here is a basic walk-through:

• During regular bath time wash and rinse as usual, towel dry your dog.

• Use organic coconut oil (it’s solid when it cools and liquid just below body temp) that is cool enough to scoop out. The lipids are very beneficial to the skin, and are anti-microbial.

• Apply liberally to your dog’s coat (if your dog is long hair you will use A LOT of coconut oil so consider treating problem areas and not the whole dog).

• If your dog licks at the product it is very beneficial for them, just make sure they don’t get too much!

• Let the mask sit for up to 5 minutes

• Rinse with a light dilution of shampoo, just enough to get the greasy feeling off the coat, but enough to leave the coat soft and the skin smooth.

• Lightly towel dry and enjoy a soft pet that smells like the tropics.

• This mask can be done as much as weekly, but even just a seasonal treatment will have long lasting effects.
Winter doesn’t have to sing the dry skin blues for everyone, because the treatment can be used on humans too! That’s right it’s a great way to hydrate your skin and hair in a natural way. So consider a spa day for you and your pet. They will love it, and you will too! Stay hydrated and warm this winter Moab, and remember the sun will be back soon enough.

Dog-Friendly Walks/Hikes
in the Moab Area

Corona Arch - Easy/Moderate. 1.3 Miles one way. Trailhead is 25 minute drive from Moab. North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Mill Creek Pathway - Easy. 1.1 Miles. Little to no driving. Starts at the intersection of 100 South and 100 West, a block off of Main Street.

Portal Overlook - Hard. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 20 minute drive from Moab. N. on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Grandstaff Canyon - Moderate. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 10-minute drive from Moab. North on US-191 to the River Road (Utah 128)


MoabBarkery website

Dog Friendly Walks/Hikes in the Moab Area
Trail or Walk Difficulty Length
(one way)
Proximity to Downtown
MillCreek Pathway
easy 1.1 miles Little to no driving
Starts at 100 S & 100 W
Portal Overlook
(trailhead @ Jaycee Park)
Hard 2.0 miles 25 min drive N on US-191 to W on Utah 279 (4.2 miles)
Moab Rim Hard 3.0 miles
(to Hidden Valley trail)
8 minute drive 2.6 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Negro Bill Canyon
(aka William Grandstaff Canyon)
Moderate 2.0 miles 10 minute drive N on US-191 to
W on Utah 128, 3 miles
Hunter Canyon Easy 2.0 miles 25 minute drive (mild off-road)
7.5 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Corona Arch Trail Easy/Moderate 1.5 miles 25 minute drive N on US-191 to
W Utah 279 (10 miles)
Hidden Valley
(trailhead at end of Angel Rock Rd)
Hard 2.0 miles 10 minute drive S on US-191
3 miles to Angel Rock Rd
Fisher Towers
(trailhead 2.2 miles off Utah 128)
Moderate 2.2 miles 35 minute drive N on US-191 to Utah 128, then 21 miles

Tips for enjoying your time with your dog here in the Moab area:

  • Bring lots of extra water for you and your dog.1 gallon per day for every 60lbs of dog!!
  • Don’t let dogs chase wildlife (especially coyotes, they can lead dogs into an ambush).
  • In the city, dogs are required to be leashed, but on public lands off leash with voice control is allowed.
  • Slickrock and sand is very abrasive!  Check paw pads often, or buy and use booties.
  • If it’s over 85 degrees only consider early AM or late PM hikes, daycare or leave your dog at home.
  • Pack out my poop!  Seriously or the other hikers without dogs will eventually demand no dogs allowed!

To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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