Because our canine friends are typically pretty furry, we don't always think about the skin underneath, the protective barrier to the outside world. The skin keeps them safe from foreign objects, bacteria, dirt, and fungus. This supple covering regulates your pup's body temperature and is composed of layers of cells. Itchiness, dryness, and rashes may come your pet's way at some point in their lives. To ensure that your dog’s skin is kept in good condition and they do not develop problems, it is good to have a basic skincare regimen.
What are the most common causes of skin problems in dogs?
A good skincare regimen allows you to become familiar with how your pet's skin should look and feel. Regular grooming enables you to examine your dog, looking for bumps, bites, and dryness. The typical causes of skin problems in dogs include:
- Poor nutrition can cause sparse fur and scaly skin
- Allergies (flea bite and environmental, for example) can bring on itchiness and red, broken skin
- Parasitic infections can lead to dry skin and also itchiness from irritation
- Skin conditions like seborrhea cause the skin to be oily and flaky
- An adverse reaction to food (allergy or discretionary eating, for instance) can make your dog scratch
- A bacterial infection can cause the skin to become red and raw
Nutrition plays a big part in your dog's health. If a low-quality food is consistently being fed, your pooch will lack essential nutrients to promote healthy skin and fur. A poor protein source, lack of appropriate fats, and shortages of key vitamins and minerals (such as zinc which is crucial to good skin) can cause your dog to have brittle fur and a dry protective barrier. The skincare takeaway here is to provide your dog with good food and supplements that condition the skin.
Allergies and adverse food reaction
Allergies, whether food-related or environmental, or reactions and intolerances to food (like dairy or grain) can lead to itchiness, redness, and sore skin in general. Your dog will not find relief without a visit to the vet to determine the cause. Often, a diet based on trial elimination is undertaken to find the culprit. Skincare for a dog with allergies may include a gentle, medicated shampoo to soothe the itch.
Mange, which is caused by a tiny microscopic mite is intensely itchy and if left untreated, leads to secondary infections because of dirt and bacteria entering broken skin. This highly contagious invasion of the epidermis must be attended to by the vet in order for your pet's skin to recover. The home has to be decontaminated as well. Fleas, ticks, and microscopic parasites are other critters that can wreak havoc on the skin.
Seborrhea in dogs results in flaky, oily skin. This condition typically begins at a young age and has a genetic component. Basset Hounds, American Cocker Spaniels, and German Shepherds are just three of the breeds predisposed. The skincare regime here is treatment with antibiotics if infection is present, along with medicated shampoos.
A good example of this infection is the proliferation of bacteria within the skin folds of breeds like the Pug, Boxer, Chinese Shar-Pei, and Bulldog. If moisture builds up in the wrinkled areas of the skin, odor and infection can quickly set in. The folds must be wiped clean and dry daily. To gently reinforce this skincare need, use vet-approved wipes to do the cleaning.
How can I take care of my dog's skin?
Good skincare for canines starts at home with regular grooming sessions. Brush your dog as needed to remove tangles and debris and at the same time, inspect their skin for scabs, dry skin, and bumps. Part the fur and keep an eye out for flea bites and dirt, rashes, redness, or areas where your pet may be losing fur.
If your pup has folds in their skin, gently wipe them clean and dry every day or two. Check your pup's ears occasionally, especially after a swim. Check the paw pads for dryness and cracks, and make sure they look clean and healthy between the toes.
Further steps to smooth and soften skin include baths when needed, using a gentle vet-approved shampoo. If you are at the park and your canine buddy gets a cut or scrape, attend to it as soon as you get home.
Lastly, if you have any concerns about your dog's skin condition, consult the vet to see if there is an underlying cause that needs to be attended to.