Many factors can contribute to dry and itchy skin on your black lab. Some causes are environmental while others can be related to grooming. While uncomfortable, these conditions can easily be treated from home and do not require a visit to the veterinarian unless they persist after treating at home.
Understanding a Black Lab's Coat and Skin
Labradors are moderate shedders throughout the entire year, with an increase during spring, when they lose their heavy winter coats. Brushing can help cut down on shedding and improve itchy skin to an extent. The more you brush your lab, the more loose fur you remove and, consequently, the less he will have to scratch to relieve himself of it. You should never totally shave any part of your lab unless it is medically required. When the thick hairs of the outer coat begin to grow back, it will cause discomfort, irritation and itching. Excessive itching almost always leads to skin irritation. If your pet's problems persist after trying at-home solutions, he will require a vet visit to rule out skin fungi, bacteria and parasites. Fleas and mites can hide especially well in a black lab's fur.
Labs generally do not require regular bathing. For the most part, they should only be given a full bath if they roll in something dirty or smelly. Over-bathing your dog can cause her skin to dry out, making her itchy and removing the natural oils her coat needs to maintain a healthy shine. If you notice your dog's skin is flaky or dry, use a homemade "shampoo" consisting of one part oatmeal and one part warm water and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Massage this mixture into your dog's coat, allow to sit for one minute, then rinse. Oatmeal will add moisture as well as soothe minor allergic reactions.
Certain essential fatty acids are required in your dog's diet to maintain skin and coat health. Some examples are fish, corn, peanut and olive oils. Many people will choose to add 1 tbsp per day to their lab's dry dog food. Maintaining this routine daily is an effective at-home solution that will have a visible improvement on any dog's coat and put a quick stop to dry, flaky skin.
Sometimes the environment can play a role in drying a lab's skin to the point of flaking. In the winter months, heaters inside the home can cause drying of the skin. A naturally arid climate can also contribute to dry, flaky skin. Limit your dog's exposure to very sandy areas, which can contain pests that cause skin problems.