With the summer months approaching, many of us are thinking about warmer weather, days on the beach and Christmas looming. But if you have a dog with sensitive skin, this time of year signals several months of itchiness and discomfort for your dog, and concern and worry for you.
During spring and summer the number of dogs suffering from itchy, irritated skin significantly increases.
Skin conditions and imbalances in dogs are caused by a combination of genetics (a common problem for certain breeds such as Terrier and Retriever breeds) and environmental factors such as environmental allergies (eg. grasses, pollens), flea/mite allergies and other contact irritants.
However, all these conditions can be exacerbated by an imbalance in the skin, particularly the oil and moisture content, which causes dry, itchy skin and reduces the skin’s effectiveness to provide a protective barrier for the body. Indeed, international research on skin conditions in dogs has confirmed that dogs with skin conditions such as allergies often have a moisture and oil imbalance in the skin, that can lead to dry, itchy skin.
While a visit to the vet is necessary for treating skin allergies and infections, making a few simple changes to your dog’s grooming routine can improve the health of the coat and skin, making them far more comfortable this summer.
Use a shampoo that is formulated for dogs
Your dog’s coat and skin is different from your own and requires different grooming products.
The first step is to choose a shampoo that has been formulated for dogs with the right pH and appropriate ingredients for their skin. Human products are too acidic for your dog’s skin and can strip the natural oils from the coat and skin.
Use a gentle shampoo
Choosing a mild, sulphate free dog shampoo is important to keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy.
Some dog shampoos contain harsh chemicals that can strip the natural oils and long term use of these shampoos can exacerbate a moisture imbalance, drying out the skin. Look out for a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo. This is especially important for puppies, breeds prone to skin allergies and dogs with sensitive skin.
Use a good conditioner after bathing
Using a conditioner after bathing is important to nourish and replenish the natural oils in the coat and skin, as well as leaving your dog’s coat soft and silky smooth.
Groom your dog daily
Spend quality time with your pets by brushing them daily to de-tangle knots, remove dirt and allergens and improve ventilation to the skin.
Supplement your dog’s diet with omega oils
Providing your dog with a diet rich in omega 3 and omega 6 oils or supplementing its diet with oral omega fatty acid supplements can also help to keep your dog’s skin healthy. Alternatively you can use a topical omega spot-on to replenish the skin.
Following these simple steps will help to maintain the moisture and oil balance in your dog’s coat and skin, so they can feel happier and healthier this summer.
* Inman. AO, Olivry.T, Dunston. SM, Monterio-Riviere. NA and Gatto. H. Electron Microscopic Observations of Stratum Corneum Intercelluar Lipids in Normal & Atopic Dogs. Veterinary Pathology 38:720-723 (2001)