It’s winter again folks. There’s no denying it, especially if you live in Northeast Ohio. All that dry, cold wind outside and forced heat inside can wreak havoc on your skin. You can expect chapped lips, dry, cracked or peeling hands and quite possibly dry and flaky skin on your face too. For these situations you know what to do. Break out the extra strength moisturizer for your hands, exfoliate and moisturize your face regularly, slather on the protecting lip balm.
Did you know that your pet’s skin can suffer from the cold winter air as well? Yes, your pets could be prone to developing dry skin during the cold winter months, but fortunately, there are measures that you can take to prevent them from suffering from dry, flaky and itchy skin.
Recognizing the symptoms of dry skin in pets is the first step to treating and preventing this uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition.
- Flaking Skin or Dandruff
- Cracked Skin (which can lead to skin sores and infection)
- Itchy Skin and Frequent Scratching
- Biting and Licking the Skin
- A Scaly, Rough Appearance to the Skin
The following are some suggestions that will help your dog or cat’s skin and fur to be as healthy as possible.
Brush your pet at least once a week (more often for breeds with long hair that mats).
Not only does combing and brushing remove tangles, knots and mats, it also moves oils at the base of the hair follicle down the strand. Regular brushing of your cats will also help to reduce the occurrence of hairballs. Frequent brushing also helps to reduce shedding in both dogs and cats.
While combing and brushing your pet, notice any trouble spots; lumps, lesions, cuts or scratches, etc. Anything looking suspicious should be seen by one of our veterinarians immediately.
Avoid too frequent bathing for dogs and small animals. During the dry, cold winter months, they should be bathed about once monthly. The warm water and some shampoos strip the natural oils from the skin and can exacerbate and worsen dry skin and itching.
Regular grooming for your pet either by you or our groomer will help keep your dog or cats skin healthy and aid in early detection of any health problems that may occur.
Another way to reduce shedding is to feed a high quality food; feeding your pet with nutritionally complete and balanced food that has all the nutrients required for healthy skin and hair coat. Ask about the diets we have available for sale at our hospitals such as Primal’s raw foods and organic treats and the high quality Orijen brand dry food.
An easy way to help you and your pet’s skin stay hydrated while seeking shelter from the blizzard outside is with a humidifier. It adds moisture to the dry winter air and reduces the drying effects on your four legged friends skin. Humidifiers are helpful in homes with forced hot air heating systems, which tend to be especially drying to your pet’s skin.
Incorporating daily supplements of fish oil or Flaxseed oil with Omega-3 fatty acids can also help support a sleek, healthy coat and supple skin. Consult with one of our doctors as to which supplement is appropriate for your pet. There are many varieties of supplements available for healthy skin and coats which our veterinarian can recommend for you on an individual patient basis and some of which we have available for sale at our clinic.
The key to results with supplements is consistency and patience. It can take up to 12 weeks to determine whether the supplementation is working. Always maintain the correct dosage each time you give it and if you lapse in giving the supplement for a long period of time you may have to wait several weeks to start seeing results again.
All in all, if you take preventive steps in keeping your pet’s skin and coat healthy you can improve their comfort level by leaps and bounds. Adding a simple skin care routine for your pet is just as important for them as it is for you. The many benefits will be worth the small effort in the end and your furry friends will thank you for it.