How to help dogs with itchy, dry or sensitive skin
WHY DO SOME DOGS HAVE REGULAR SCRATCH PARTIES?
Dog owners have all seen these scratch parties at some point in time. Dogs may scratch, itch, nibble and roll around the grass in an attempt to ease the discomfort on and around their skin.
While it may look amusing to the onlooker, the level of stress it causes the dog may not be healthy. This can often be aggravated in warm or hot, humid weather.
Some dogs may even scratch & nibble on their skin too much and cause open wounds. This may cause flies or other parasites to crash the scratch party and lead to further unwanted issues for the dogs skin.
WHAT CAUSES DRY, ITCHY SKIN IN DOGS?
There are several causes of dry, itchy and sensitive skin in dogs. These causes can range from, but not limited to:
- an overactive immune system (sensitive skin)
- allergies (yes dogs can have allergies too)
- poor nutrition
- poor fluid intake
- breed type
- harsh shampoos or bathing too often
- serious medical complications* (Always consult your Vet)
HOW CAN I SORT OUT THE PROBLEM?
We always recommend that you first and foremost consult your Vet regularly for check ups and to get a professional diagnosis for any ailments your dog may be experiencing.
Fortunately, regardless of the overall cause of the problem, for minor skin issues, the treatment methods would be similar.
By ensuring that the basics are covered, you will do more than you realize in assisting your dog with their sensitive skin and in turn, their overall stress levels.
SWITCH TO BETTER QUALITY NUTRITION
The most important factor which we look at is the nutrition provided for your dog. A strong, healthy and ailment free dog begins with adequate, quality nutrition.
We are looking for a dog food with a high quality protein component as well as fat content. If the dog food is of a high quality, with added nutritional benefits, this would be the first step in reducing or preventing sensitive skin.
Added nutrients such as Selenium may help to reduce the severity and frequency of skin rash and dry, flaky skin due to its modulating action on the immune system.
This means that the immune system is protected in a way that it prevents the outbreak of skin rash in the presence of allergens, such as dust, mites, and pollen.
Powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C also help to remove harmful free radicals in the body and prevent skin damage.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Olympic Professional Vital Conditioning
ENSURE AN ADEQUATE FLUID INTAKE DAILY
Hydration is also vital for your dog, as a well hydrated dog is able to repair damaged skin at a better rate than one who is lacking in fresh water every few hours.
It would be better to use smaller containers for water and to refresh the water in the bowel as often as possible. Remember that any water which is left stagnant may attract algae and harmful bacteria.
Large containers which are filled only once a day would not be ideal.
AVOID HARSH SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Some breeds may be more susceptible and prone to skin problems than other breeds. Your choice of skin care products should be based on the skin care needs of the specific breed of dog you are dealing with.
Avoid products which may contain harsh chemicals which could aggravate the skin issue and lead to further complications.
Avoid bathing your dog too frequently as this may also aggravate an already prevalent skin condition.
Make use of creams or ointments which are "natural products" such as aqueous cream infused with tea tree oil as opposed to creams with harsh chemicals in its formulation.
Tea tree in particular may assist with cooling down itchy skin and helping treat/avoid skin infections. Can be very handy when a dog scratches too much and breaks the skin in the process.
REGULAR EXERCISE ROUTINE
Exercise is vital to maintain a healthy body and mind in both adult dogs and puppies. A healthy, well balanced and happy dog has a good daily exercise routine supported by top quality nutrition.
Regular exercise which consists of a combination of strength and endurance/cardio training helps to improve overall fitness and more importantly, puts the body in active recovery mode which speeds up healing and improves immunity.
This is seen also in humans, where athletes or sports people in active training are less frequently affected by common ailments such as colds & flu or even skin issues.
For minor skin issues, the problem should subside fairly quickly if all the basics are covered as described above. A healthy dog begins always with a good quality, balanced dog food.
**Remember to always consult your vet first for a professional diagnosis and treatment options.