When it comes to skin conditions in our pet dogs, prevention is so much better than cure. Here are some simple guidelines that can minimize the risk of skin irritations and itches and keep your dog’s fur smelling and feeling great.
1) Food. What you put in your dog’s dinner bowl has a huge impact on the health of their skin and fur. Cheaper foods can contain poorer quality ingredients and may result in a dull, dry coat. Feed a nutritionally balanced food, whether kibble or canned. If you want to create a home-cooked menu for your dog, seek advice from a veterinary nutritionist.
2) Choose your dog’s shampoo carefully. Some shampoos are very drying and will remove natural oils from their coat, leaving them dry and even itchy. Frequent washing can have a similar effect. Medicated shampoos should only be used on veterinary advice. Avoid using human products to wash your dog – their skin is quite different to ours. Most dogs tolerate a gentle soap-free shampoo well. When it comes to how often to wash them, there is no hard and fast rule. Wash your dog when they are dirty; that may be every week or two or even less frequently.
3) Use an appropriate brush for your dog’s coat type and use it regularly. A thorough brushing every week will remove dirt and loose fur, and release any tangles. The result is a soft shiny coat. Some breeds, such as the Poodle, are easier to manage if their fur is clipped every few months. There are a number of brush types so if you are not sure which to choose, ask a breeder or groomer for advice.
4) Keep fleas in check. Flea bites can result in red itchy skin and hair loss. It is important that all dogs be treated with flea control products to keep them free of these annoying little blood suckers. There are a number of products you can choose from, ranging from monthly spot-on liquids and flavored tablets, to chewable treats that protect dogs from fleas for several months. Flea shampoos are really only suitable for mild infestations and even then, they are not always effective enough. When the lather is rinsed off, the flea killing effect is gone. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best product for your pooch.
5) Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, your dog will develop a skin irritation. Early detection and treatment is the key. Keep a close eye on their skin and if you notice any itching, reddening or areas of hair loss, have your vet check them out as soon as you can. This will allow you to get the problem under control quickly.
There are few things as comforting as snuggling up to your dog’s soft, sweet-smelling fur. It is not difficult to keep their skin and coat in great condition and it needn’t cost a lot of money. By choosing the right shampoo and brushes, feeding your dog a good quality diet and keeping on top of fleas, you minimize the risk of skin complaints and keep them looking, feeling and smelling great.