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Why is it important to check & to take care of your dog's skin?

Our dog’s skin and coat is more important than simply what we see at first glance. Similar to us the skin and coat of our fur babies is often a good indicator of health. Dry or cracked skin, damaged or slow growing fur – can all be signs that your buddy is in need of some TLC. Given that the skin and coat is largely responsible for protecting our dogs from physical, chemical or microbial injury, its supaw™ important that we do everything we can to help them build this barrier of defense.

How can we help?

One of the most important ways we can help support our buddies on this journey is through their diet! Did you know that your dog’s skin is actually considered to be a large organ which is responsible for 30% of their daily protein requirements (https://www.advancepet.com.au).  

For this reason it is important to include all of the essential vitamins and minerals in your dog’s diet to support skin and coat health and provide them with the essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to give them that special glow. Doing so will help to support the barrier function of the skin and prevent water loss, reducing the chance to dehydration- and minor skin issues. 

It is however important to monitor your dog’s skin health – as changes could be a precursor to a more serious problem. Lets explore some of the more common skin issues to look out for.

Signs your dog may be suffering from a skin condition

Dr Geneva Paghali, Veterinarian specialist states that many minor skin conditions can be treated at home but if the condition does not improve in two weeks it is always important to seek professional advice  (https://www.petmd.com).

 Most commonly the biggest indicator of a skin issue in your doggo is itching for long and repetitive time periods. Usually resulting in the skin turning red and dry. 

Other signs & symptoms to be on the lookout for can be (https://www.animaltrust.org.uk/blog/dog-skin-allergies/):

 • Skin sores
• Rashes
• Scabs
• Lumps
• Dandruff
• Bumps
• Red spots
• Hair loss

It is best to monitor your dog to determine if the condition worsens over a day or so. Sometimes a new food/shampoo/conditioner or change in environment can bring on any one of the above – but it is important to seek veterinarian advice should the case worsen after a day or two. Should the condition worsen, it is possible that your buddy may be suffering from any one of the following conditions – thankfully all of which are treatable at your local vet.

5 Most common skin conditions
1. Flea allergy dermatitis 

Fleas are the most common skin issue in dogs they often leave a lasting impression not so much from the biting they do but when this gives rise to an allergic reaction to flea saliva. This can happen even if your dog has only 1 or 2 fleas, with the symptoms to look out for being itching, red skin and inflammation of affected areas.

Treatment

There are a number of effective treatments on the market for fleas some include antibiotics or steroids, shampoos and oral antihistamines. It is often a good idea to try and pre-empt any flea activity by treating your dog with an all rounder flea and tick treatment on a monthly basis- these are available as soft chews and topical liquids. Remember to also clean your dogs beds, carpets and furniture regularly.

2. Atopic Dermatitis 

This can often arise as a result of your dog having a hypersensitivity to indoor allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mould spores and even some plants. The most common symptom of such an allergy is itching particularly in skin folds in areas such as the flanks (where the hind legs meet the body) and armpits. Such an allergy can be worsened when a dog’s skin barrier is compromised and with extended itching.

Treatment

Dr Linda Vogelnest a Veterinary Dermatologist (https://www.sashvets.com/vet-resources/best-practice-for-long-term-control-of-atopic-dermatitis-by-dr-linda-vogelnest/) believes that managing the symptoms when they arise is the best way to treat such a condition- as preventative measures can be difficult:

1. Repair the skin barrier- through dietary additions, topical creams and shampoos/conditioners

2. Keeping the site clean – regularly cleaning with a wet towel or a wipe of the affected areas

 3. Potent topical steroids available from your vet

4. Allergen-Immunotherapy for more serious cases

3. Food Allergy Dermatitis 

This is a very common condition amongst our four-legged friends and as it suggests arises as a result of a food intolerance – often as a result of a sudden change in diet.

Treatment

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, there are a number of diets which can restrict the chance of allergies to the skin which can be trialed over a short period. It is however always recommended to consult your vet in such an instance for further tests and recommendations on dietary changes.

4. Mange 

Mange is one of the more severe skin problems which can affect dogs. According to the AKC (Mange in Dogs: What You Need to Know – American Kennel Club (akc.org)) Mange refers to a skin disease caused by mites that live and affect the skin and coat of your dog. There are two types of mange Sarcoptic Mange and Demodectic Mange both of which can lead to a loss of hair in around affected areas as well as red, irritated and itchy skin.

 Treatment

• Best to consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is suffering from mange.

• Hair clippings can be done to further assist in topical treatment

• Medicated baths

• Mite eradication and control oral treatments

5. Hot spots 

Hot spots can arise from a number of the above skin conditions worsening over time as well as a result of a separate infection. Usually when your doggo is suffering from a hot spot – they will incessantly scratch and irritate a specific area on their skin. The subsequent scratching and chewing can be as a result of a bite or wound but can turn into a secondary bacterial infection as a result of the constant attention given to that area of the skin.

Treatment

It is best to usually clean and trim the hair from around the area of focus and treat it specifically with a topical cream or dose of topical antibiotics. Many vets also advise that (https://www.blackmores.com.au/pet-health/skin-and-coat-health/5-most-common-skin-conditions-and-allergies-in-dogs) in severe cases, oral antibiotics or corticosteroids may be prescribed to help reduce the itching, offering quick relief to your dog.

Our best buddy deserves to be glowing 24/7 so if you suspect that they may be suffering from any of the above skin conditions it is always best to consult your local veterinarian.

 In order to try and avoid getting to that costly point (for you) and painful point (for your doggo), it is always important to supplement your dogs diet with healthy foods, treats and supplements to support overall skin and coat health.

Our two top recommendations would be our:

Skin, Coat and Nail Oil Supplement to give that special barrier on the skin and keep the coat shiny.

As well as our Digestive Health Supplement powder which can remedy bacterial infections like yeast infections which can cause skin irritations.

This article has been reviewed by a Vet.