Skin is the largest organ of the body representing 15-25% of body weight. Rightly called “first line of defence,” it protects other body parts from weather extremities, ultra violet radiations and injuries, which makes skin care regimen all the more important. Here’s a piece of advice on the same.
A healthy skin truly represents dog’s good health condition. Cleanliness is one of the important factors to keep your dog’s skin healthy and intact, besides making him look good. Here are a few tips for dog skin care:
- Feed proper diet as per dog’s requirement. Add vitamins- A, B, C, E and Brewers yeast in diet.
- For dogs having dry skin, essential fatty acids should be fed additionally.
- Avoid bathing frequently as it removes the natural oils present on the coat, which act as weather proofing agent.
Dogs sweat very less as they don’t have sufficient sweat glands. The dog’s dermal skin layer has two types of glands that produce fluids. The apocrine glands have two other functions in dogs – they help to seal the outer layer of the epidermis and they secrete pheromones that give dogs a distinctive body odour. The eccrine glands in the pads of the paws produce a watery secretion similar to human sweat.
Skin problems arise from external as well as internal reasons like injury from foreign objects, nibbling teeth, scratching, external parasites, and internal infections or autoimmune diseases. The most common reasons for skin irritation are contact and inhalant allergies, which lead to serious problems like hot spots, hair loss and crusty lesions. Allergy is caused by release of histamines by body in its effort to protect from foreign agents. These histamines produce the itching sensation. Whenever you find your dog itching, contact your vet immediately.
Mites, fleas and ticks are most common parasites of the skin. Mange is of two types, based on the causative agent – demodectic and sarcoptic. Mange mites live under the skin and cause irritation and hair loss. Some people believe that susceptibility to demodectic mange is inherited because the disease manifests in puppies also. But it’s not true because the mites never go to the foetus. It is only the physical transmission of the mites to new-born pups. Sarcoptic mange (also called scabies) causes severe itching and can infect dogs of all breeds. This mite lays eggs under the skin. Itching occurs commonly on the elbows, ears, armpits, chest and belly region. If red colour small pustules develop along with yellow crust on the skin, consult your vet immediately.
Similarly, ticks and fleas also cause severe problem to dogs. Some dogs become allergic to flea bites and fleas also act as vectors for tapeworms. Ticks are more difficult to tackle than fleas. They suck blood and also act as vector for various diseases.
Shampoos and sprays are the most commonly used topical treatments. Shampoos are mainly of three types – cleansing, antiparasitic, and medicated. Cleansing shampoos remove dirt and excess oils from the coat. Antiparasitic shampoos are mostly used for ticks and fleas. Medicated shampoos include antimicrobial and antiseborrheic products. The most widely used antibacterial shampoos contain chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide. Ketocnazole and Miconazole shampoos are usual therapy for the treatment of Malassezia infections. Antiseborrheic shampoos mostly contain sulphur which is keratolytic and also have antiseptic properties. Sulphur is also recommended for scaly seborrhoea.
Before using a medicated shampoo, the pet should be washed properly with a cleansing shampoo and rinsed well. The medicated shampoo should be applied evenly to the hair coat after diluting it in water. The medicated shampoo should be left on the skin for 10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly from the coat as shampoo residue is a common cause of irritant reactions.
In a nutshell, the skin of your pet requires continuous care, right from grooming to good nutrition and prevention to treatment. Don’t take skin problems lightly, consult your vet before the problem aggravates.
(Dr. Avinash Srivastava, M.V.Sc. (IVRI), PGDPM (Symbiosis) is Technical Manager (Livestock and Canine) at Vetnex. He can be contacted at 09350506830 or firstname.lastname@example.org)