DIY Dog Conditioner for Dry Coat and Skin

With the winter months upon us, many dog owners notice their furry friends dealing with dry, flaky coats and itchy skin. Commercial dog shampoos and conditioners can help, but they also contain chemicals that some prefer to avoid. Making your own all-natural dog conditioner at home allows you to tailor it to your dog’s specific needs while ensuring you use only the highest quality ingredients. 

Understanding Your Dog’s Skin and Coat Needs

Before delving into recipes, it’s important to understand the causes of dry skin and coats in dogs. Harsh chemicals in commercial products, outdoor climate conditions like wind and cold temperatures, and parasites like fleas are common culprits. Knowing the underlying triggers will help you choose the most effective natural ingredients for your dog.


Dogs with thin or fine coats are more prone to dryness in winter. Breeds like Greyhounds, Whippets, or Siberian Huskies have double coats designed for insulation, protecting them better than single-coat dogs. Senior dogs also often experience increased drying as their skin becomes less efficient at retaining moisture with age. Medical conditions such as allergies, hormonal imbalances, or chronic yeast/bacterial infections can exacerbate flaky skin issues as well.

Regular brushing and bathing too frequently with harsh soaps also strips natural oils from hair and skin. This disrupts the protective acid mantle layer that seals in moisture. Letting your dog’s natural oils replenish between washes (every 4-6 weeks) is gentler on their skin. In addition to conditioning rinses, daily brushing aids the distribution of oils down the hair shaft between baths.


Choosing the Right Ingredients

When selecting ingredients for DIY conditioners, it’s important to use gentle, nourishing options your dog’s sensitive skin can tolerate. Here are some top all-natural ingredients to consider:

Coconut Oil

High in beneficial fatty acids like lauric acid, and coconut oil has strong moisturizing properties. It’s easily absorbed without leaving hair greasy. Use extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil.

Olive Oil

Similar to coconut oil, olive oil effectively nourishes dry fur and skin. Choose cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for maximum moisture benefits.


Avocado Oil

Loaded with vitamins A, D, and E, avocado oil penetrates to hydrate skin from within. Its light texture doesn’t feel heavy in fur.

Almond Oil

Rich in vitamins and minerals, sweet almond oil balances skin pH and softens hair fibers. Use mild, hypoallergenic almond oil suitable for sensitive skin.

Aloe Vera Gel

With antibacterial effects, aloe vera soothes itchy rashes and humidifies skin. Look for pure, preservative-free aloe vera gel.

Apple Cider Vinegar

In small amounts, apple cider vinegar restores skin’s acid mantle to lock in hydration. The “Mother” contains probiotics too.

Essential Oils

Calming scents like lavender, chamomile, and tea tree oil also offer benefits when used sparingly. Avoid citrus oils that can irritate the skin.

With a collection of these high-quality emollients and humectants, you’ll have everything you need to whip up customizable conditioners tailor-made for your dog’s coat type. Always do a patch test before the full application to check for any sensitivity.

DIY Conditioner Recipes

Now let’s dive into specific recipes to target different skin and coat issues your furry friend may face:

For Dry, Itchy Skin

  • 1/2 cup coconut or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 10 drops tea tree oil or lavender essential oil
  • In a jar, combine the coconut/olive oil, aloe vera gel and five drops of essential oil.
  • Shake well to blend.
  • After bathing, apply a small amount and gently massage into damp skin, focusing on itchy areas.
  • Avoid getting in the eyes. Rinse thoroughly once absorbed if using tea tree oil which can irritate.
How it Works:

The fatty acids in coconut/olive oil hydrate skin while aloe vera soothes irritation and itchiness. Tea tree and lavender have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties to relieve underlying causes of dry flakes.

For Thin, Frizzy Coats

  • 1/2 cup avocado or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • 10 drops rosehip seed oil
  • Combine oils in ajar, shaking well to blend.
  • After bathing, work a nickel-sized amount through damp fur with fingertips, focusing on thin areas.
  • Avoid getting in the eyes.
How it Works:

Rich avocado/olive oil replenishes coats while almond oil softens hair texture. Rosehip seed oil, packed with nutrients, encourages cellular regeneration for thicker-looking fur over time.

For Severely Dry, Matted Coats

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 drops chamomile essential oil
  • In a glass jar, combine coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Shake to blend.
  • After bathing, work through knots with a wide-toothed comb before applying conditioner.
  • Apply all over the damp coat, avoiding eyes. Rinse thoroughly once combed through to avoid tangling.
How it Works:

The vinegar restores acidic balance on skin and hair cuticles while coconut oil intensely nourishes. Chamomile soothes and relaxes a stressed coat back to health over repeated uses. Always brush out mats gently with conditioner rather than detangling them dry.

Applying and Maintaining Results

Avoid over-conditioning sensitive skin by only applying the recommended nickel or quarter-sized amount once coats are towel-dried after baths. Work it in by hand or brush through lightly. Then, allow it to fully air dry before resuming play or exercise to avoid rubbing the product off prematurely.

For best results, make conditioning a part of your dog’s regular grooming routine alongside weekly brushing. Keep them regularly de-shredded and mat-free between washes to keep skin and hair follicles healthy overall. Monitor skin and coat improvements over subsequent uses of homemade conditioners tailored to individual needs. Adjust ingredients or frequency of use as needed for ongoing comfort and shine.

Common Questions

Let’s address some frequent questions people have about DIY dog conditioners:

1 How do I know which oils are safe for dogs?

When selecting carrier oils, always choose USDA-certified organic, food-grade options. Coconut, olive, avocado, almond, and avocado oils are commonly used in canine massage oils and supplements as well. Stick to pure, unrefined forms without added chemicals or preservatives.

2 What essential oils are safe in dog products?

In small amounts, lavender, chamomile, tea tree, and rosemary are generally considered safe for dogs when diluted. Always do a patch test and avoid citrus oils that can burn. Never use undiluted essential oils directly on the skin.

3 How do I store homemade conditioner?

Keep conditioned sealed in a jar or bottle in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. If signs of separation occur, gently re-emulsify by shaking or blending before each use. Discard if mold or changes in smell/color develop.

4 Can I use conditioner daily?

No, the conditioner is not a replacement for regular brushing. Use every 4-7 days after baths or as needed 2-3 times weekly for severely dry coats. Daily moisturizing creams are better for maintaining hydrated skin between washes.

5 Why does my dog lick the conditioner off?

Some dogs may find carrier oils or essential oil scents tasty. To discourage licking, rinse thoroughly once absorbed and distract them until fully dried. You can also rub a spot of bitter apple spray on paws to deter licking.


By taking the time to thoughtfully craft homemade dog conditioners using only high-quality nourishing ingredients, you create customized skin and coat therapies catered to your pet’s individual needs. With the right combination applied consistently as part of a sound hygiene routine, DIY conditioners naturally improve flaking, frizziness, itchiness, and more over time for happier, healthier dogs.


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