Top tips for healthy skin and coat

Managing a pet’s skin and coat is one of the most common reasons a pet owner will take their dog or cat to visit the vet.

In dogs, it is particularly common for Terriers, Setters, Retrievers, Spaniels and Dalmatians to visit the vet with skin problems. As a pet owner you will want to help to calm your pet’s sensitive, dry flaky skin and look for a solution that will soothe and reduce the itching to help make your pet more comfortable.

Skin problems and irritation can be caused by a number of reasons and to complicate matters, your dog or cat could be affected by more than one cause. These can include fleas, food allergies and an acute fatty acid imbalance.

Common signs that your pet may be suffering with some sort of skin complaint could include:
•    Your pet may be moulting more than usual.
•    You might notice that they have thin or balding patches.
•    They could develop dry or flaky skin.
•    Their coat may appear dull or greasy.

Your pet may have all year-round symptoms, which could mean that they are allergic to something in your home, however there are allergic reactions that are seasonal. Outdoor seasonal allergens can include, ragweed, grasses and pollens.

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

Persistent itching is not only stressful for your pet but can also cause distress to you as their owner. To help to maintain a healthy skin and coat for your pet, here are some positive things that you can do:

Regular grooming

This will help to remove loose hairs, keep your pet’s coat free from dirt and distribute natural skin oils, which help to make their coat shiny. Try not to groom them more than once a week, 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 your pet’s skin.

Protect your pet from the sunhealthy skin and coat

Like humans, overexposure to the sun is bad for your pet’s skin. Pets with light skin and short or thin hair, such as white cats 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. If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, there are sunscreens available for pets.

Food

Be sure to feed your pet a good quality diet. Foods rich in fatty acids, oils and vitamins can support healthy skin.

Parasite control

One of the most common causes of skin problems in pets is 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. Consult your vet for the best product to treat your pet.

Fluids

A constant supply of water is important to keep your pet cool and hydrated, like us, your cat or dog requires 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.

Consider using natural supplements

Some pet supplements on the market contain high quality Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, which naturally calm sensitive skin, soothe dry, flaky skin and reduce itching and scratching.

If you think your pet may be suffering from a skin problem you should contact your vet, who will be able to offer advice with regards to your pet’s health needs.