Maintaining healthy skin and coat in pets

Maintaining a pet’s skin and coat health is a common reason for pet owners to visit their vet. Diet can be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition occur, but the most common causes are seasonal and life stage.

The general condition of a pet’s skin and coat is a good indicator of their health. Some pets may have all year-round symptoms, which could mean that they are allergic to something in the home, however there are allergic reactions that are seasonal. Outdoor seasonal allergens can include, ragweed, grasses and pollens.

Skin problems and irritation can be caused by a number of reasons and to complicate matters, pets could be affected by more than one cause. The causes of skin problems can fall into several categories, which include:

  • Fleas
  • Mange
  • Food
  • Allergies
  • Environmental allergies
  • Dandruff

Getting to know your pet’s skin and coat

A healthy coat should be shiny but not greasy and will be soft and quite smooth. An unhealthy coat will be dry and brittle and could also be greasy with a dusty appearance. There may also be a few bold spots and an unpleasant smell.

Most puppies or kittens are born with soft, fuzzy fur, but as they age a coarse coat grows. Pregnant or nursing pets also may experience a change in coat condition or hair loss. And as with humans, as pets reach their mature years, their hair may thin out and become coarser and white.

Signs of poor skin and coat condition may include: dry or flaky skin, a dry coat and brittle hair that breaks easily. It could also include, moulting and thin or balding patches.

To help to maintain the health of your pet’s skin and coat, there are some positive things that you can do:

Diet

The quality of food that your dog or cat is fed can reflect in their skin. Pets are often fed unnatural diets, which are too high in Omega-6 fatty acids derived from high levels of cereals and vegetable proteins. An acute excess of Omega-6s, or a shortage or Omega-3s will predispose many inflammatory and allergic conditions, including dry, flaky and itchy skin.

Regular grooming

Brush your pet’s hair at least once a week as this will help to remove loose hairs, keep your pet’s coat free from dirt and distribute natural skin oils, which helps to make their coat shiny. Try not to groom them too much, as this could lead to irritation on the skin.

Don’t over bathe your pet

This can lead to dry and sensitive skin. Be sure to only use animal specific shampoos, as human shampoo could irritate their skin.

Sun protection

Like humans, overexposure to the sun is bad for your pet’s skin. Pets with light skin and short or thin hair, are more susceptible to sensitive skin caused from the sun. Try to limit the amount of time your pet spends in the sun and watch for signs of burning.

Fleas and parasites

One of the most common causes of skin problems in pets are parasites and fleas. Prevention is always the best treatment for flea control. Be sure to treat all pets, indoor and outdoor, as outdoor pets can carry fleas to indoor pets. At this time of year, ticks can be a problem. Run your hand through your pet’s coat and check especially around the face and up the legs and leg pits.

Fresh water

A constant supply of water is important to keep your pet cool and hydrated, like us, they require water to maintain healthy skin.

Reduce stress

Stress can lead to over grooming. Understand what is causing your pet to become stressed and try to reduce this, if possible.

 

Keep your home and their bed clean

Regularly clean, provide fresh bedding and reduce dust in your home. Hoovering on a regular basis, at least twice a week, will help to get rid of any excess dust. This will include rugs, curtains and any other material that gathers dust.

Natural supplements

Using a natural supplement like nutramega, which contains high quality omega-3 fatty acids, biotin and vitamin E can help to naturally calm sensitive skin, soothe dry, flaky skin and reduce itching and scratching.

If you are concerned about your pet’s skin and coat health, speak to your vet who is best placed to monitor your pet’s health and ensure they are receiving the best possible care.

Animal Therapy Magazine