Skin: mirror of your pet’s health


Skin…the lifeguard

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. It forms a barrier to protect the body from infections, infestations and other harmful elements. It also maintains body’s internal environment, prevents loss of moisture and other body constituents. Its daily exposure to outside environment makes it susceptible to injury and diseases, which are very easily visible on proper skin examination.

The basic facts…

Skin cells: The skin is made up of layers of cells, lubricating (sebaceous) glands, blood vessels, nerve endings, and hair follicles which produce hair. The skin cells form layers, namely the tough outer covering called the ‘epidermis’ and the deeper layer called the ‘dermis’. The epidermis is composed of older cells that form a tough, almost impervious, protective outer barrier. While, the deeper layer (dermis) contains hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves and sebaceous (oil) glands. Hair follicles and sebaceous glands are more prevalent on the back than on the belly. Hair and nails are made of a hard substance called keratin.

Types of coat: Dogs have short fluffy hair called secondary hair. Other names for secondary hair include underfur and undercoat. The second type of hair is the longer and stiffer outer hair called primary hair. Primary hair is also referred to as guard hair, outer hair, or outer coat. They also have a third type of hair: the whisker. Whiskers are called tactile hair because they help the dog sense his surroundings.
Puppy’s skin is covered by a short, soft, and sometimes wool-like hair. Sometimes the puppy hair, or fur as it is sometimes referred to, is a similar color to what is expected as an adult. Sometimes the puppy fur is slightly lighter when first born. For instance, Dalmatian puppies are born with few or no black spots. The coat is pure white with the black spots developing as the puppy grows.
Hair facts: Each hair grows from a simple opening within the skin called a hair follicle. A puppy is born with all of the hair follicles it will ever possess. Any future differences or changes of the hair coat will be due to changes within the follicle. Each hair shaft produced by a hair follicle will eventually die and be removed (shed) and replaced by a new hair shaft produced by that hair follicle. All dogs of every breed continually shed old dead hair from the follicle and replace it with a new live and growing hair. The extent or rapidity to which an individual sheds is, however, governed by factors such as age, amount of sunlight, outside temperature, breed, sex, hormones, allergies, nutrition, etc.

Skin care tips for your pooch

It is important to take good care of your pooch’s diet and grooming needs to ensure he has a healthy skin.

The nutritional advice

  • Maintain proper amount of essential fatty acid supplementation in diet for better hair growth and lustrous coat.
  • In dermatitis dietary provision of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids can be used as skin and coat rejuvenators because of its anti-inflammatory efficacy.
  • Maintain proper balance of essential nutrients in diet, multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements can be used to rule out any dietary deficiency.

Bathing and grooming advice

  • Bathing should be done with lukewarm water.
  • Do not bath puppies under three months of age, instead sponging can be done.
  • Female dogs should not be given bath after four weeks of pregnancy.
  • Put cotton plugs in both ears to avoid entry of water while bathing.
  • After bath, skin should be dried thoroughly with the help of towels; care should be taken to drain out maximum possible water.
  • Grooming with suitable brush should be done at least once in a day.

(Dr Mandar Deshpande (Business Manager) & Dr Vishal Surve (Product Manager), Companion Animal Products, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd).