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Caring for your pet's skin in Winter

Just like us, pets can experience problems with dry, sensitive and flaky skin- especially in winter. Unlike us, lathering on a moisturizing lotion is not solution for your pets.

So how can you help your pets with sensitive or dry skin?

First you need to know what sensitive or irritated skin looks like in a pet.

Here are some signs your pet might have a skin issue:

  • Frequent scratching. Most dogs scratch now and then, but if the scratching is often and vigorous, there may be a skin issue.

  • Biting and licking parts of the body. As with scratching, biting or licking can be your pet’s attempt to soothe or correct an irritation. Check the part they’re licking for redness, bumps, flaky skin or fleas.

  • Bumps, lumps and bites. All signs of irritation. The skin may be inflamed and raised or patchy and dry. In the case of fleas, you may even see tiny bite marks. This is very uncomfortable for the animal.

  • Dull coat and hair loss. This can occur over the long term as a result of poor skin health.

  • Dandruff. Yep. Just like us dandruff can occur on your pet’s skin and cause the same itchiness, irritation and discomfort as it does for us.

  • Ear infections, irritation and overgrowths

If your pet is experiencing skin issues, can you pinpoint why?

Common causes of skin irritation in pets are:

  • Soaps, dog washes and shampoos – especially if they’re not formulated for pets

  • Fleas

  • Grass or other environmental allergies

  • Food allergies

  • Chemicals in the home – especially on pet furniture and bedding

  • An increasingly dry environment (eg. lying in front of the heater!)

The simplest action is often to remove the cause. Unfortunately, the cause is not always easy to identify.

If the irritation is new or the reaction is immediate, you may be able to eliminate the cause quite easily. For example – an irritation that occurs right after using a new dog wash, or recent onset of following a change in the pet’s diet.

If you eliminate the exposure and the behaviours cease, then you know the culprit.

If the issue is pre-existing, long term or there is no clear identifiable cause, you should consult your vet to investigate potential allergies or other issues.

What else can you do to help ease skin issues in your pet?

  1. Try not to bathe your pet too often. Excessive washing strips their skin and hair of natural protective oils and increases dryness that can lead to irritation. In Winter, they can use less bathing in general.

  2. Make sure their diet is right. There is simply no better way to maintain a good coat, including skin than diet. Omega 3 fats, Zinc and grain free food can help. Discuss hypo-allergenic foods with your vet.

  3. Keep your pet’s flea and tick control up to date.

  4. Gentle grooming and brushing. This will remove pollens and grasses they pick up from outside as well as loose hair and skin flakes. This allows skin to breath and function better and minimises potential allergy exposure.

  5. Look for specially made mild pet-wash products. Our Propolis and Honey Pet soap is perfect because it is not only ultra gentle, it is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so will minimize the growth of yeasts, fungi and bacteria that may cause skin issues, including dandruff. Always avoid using bathing products made for humans.

If your pet has prolonged irritated inflamed skin, always seek advice from your vet.

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