Spring Skin ThingAugust 28, 2018
Pets Training and Boarding investigates spring skin issues, and what you can be doing now to best prepare your pet for a healthy happy coat.
For many cat and dog owners, springtime signals problematic skin. Itchy, flaky and the constant sound of pets licking and biting their paws. This can leave owners feeling frustrated and confused as to why their precious pet has suddenly come under fire from allergens.
Linda Vogelnest BVSc, MACVSc, FACVSc Specialist Veterinary Dermatologist agrees that springtime can signal distress for some pets.
“Spring is the time when pollen counts start to rise, so allergic dogs and cats can have flares of signs,” she says. There is now much more known about pollen allergies in dogs and cats – antihistamine therapy and a range of safe treatments are available as well as stronger drugs like oral cortisone.”
The great news is that if your dog is showing symptoms there are many options that can now help reduce the itch and the possible side effects untreated allergies pose, such as hot spots and yeast infections of the skin.
“The first port of call is the local veterinarian, but specialists are available for and allergy testing, desensitising, and for determining the most suitable and safe control plan for dogs and cats with allergies.”
If a dog or cat is known to have pollen allergies, keeping them inside on windy days, when mowing the lawn, or following rain when pollen counts quickly rise, may be helpful.
You can also help prepare your pet for spring time with supplements and diet.
“Omega-6 oils (e.g. evening primrose) may help with improving the skin barrier (to keep allergens out, and reduce drying), and Omega-3 oils (e.g. fish oil, flax seed oil) may help reduce inflammation,” Dr Vogelnest says.
She is also quick to note that the supplements will take up to six to eight weeks to work and take full effect so it’s important to start the supplements before the allergies symptoms appear. A good nutritionally balanced diet is also important when it comes to allergies and overall skin health.
“Ensure they have a nutritionally balanced diet as the first important step, as general health is reflected in skin and haircoat health,” she says “If they don’t have any skin problems, don’t bathe too frequently – only every month or so is probably optimal, but if you do bathe them more often, ensure to use a gentle shampoo and to moisturise with a conditioner after every bath. If they have a history of skin problems, particularly allergies, many dogs (and some cats) improve with more regular bathing (e.g. every 1-2 weeks), but again choice of gentle shampoos, and moisturising is important.”
It’s also advised to say away from chemicals and perfumes unless they are 100% natural. This includes the washes you use on your pet’s bedding.
What about human shampoo?
“The pH of human skin is much lower (ie more acidic) than dog skin, so using shampoos designed for humans can upset the skin pH and potentially change the normal bacteria and yeast living in small numbers on the skin surface,” Dr Vogelnest warns. “Some human shampoos can also irritate when there is sensitive skin. It’s more important to avoid them when your dog has skin problems (i.e. tends to have sensitive skin) and when bathed more often. A dog with normal skin that has an occasional bath with human shampoo rarely has problems.”