Unhealthy Skin

A number of skin conditions will cause irritations and scratching for all breeds of dogs. Did you know that your dog’s skin is a reflection on his/her health and the type of the food that it eats? Therefore as a dog owner it's essential to feed and care properly for your dog, to insure its health and welfare. Because of this, you need to check the condition of your pet’s skin and coat to prevent these conditions from forming.

Skin Conditions

These common skin conditions can result in itchiness, scaling, scabs, red patches and hair loss in dogs. An allergy could cause these irritations. If your dog has any of these symptoms then seek medical advice from your local vet to show the correct treatment.

Functions of the Skin

Most of us would never think about the functions of our pet’s skin, although it protects the dog's body from environmental allergic amalgams. It regulates your dog’s temperature, through his coat, and sweating. Without the skins elasticity it would restrict his movement. Skin is a sensory organ which allows animals to feel pain, cold and heat.

Check Your Pet's Skin and Coat

It is very important to check your dog’s skin and coat every couple of days. By doing this, you can find problems early, for instance when you take your dog for a walk at the end of winter. The long grasses start to die off and the harmful grass seeds can become embedded into the dogs skin. Many of these grasses have sharp barbs, which work their way into the dog’s fur then it works its way in under the skin.

This can cause large lumps to appear under the skin. If this happens it can result in an expensive operation, like that which happened to our dog. His lump appeared on his neck and when the vets operated it was right on his jugular vein, luckily they fixed it after a long operation. This is also very expensive.

Dangers of grass seeds to your dogCredit: © T Photos

These are the worst grass seeds causing our dog the most problems.  It was one of these that nearly cost his life. Luckily our vet saved him after a lengthy operation to remove it from his jugular vein.

How to Check for Grass Seeds

You will need:

  • Torch
  • Pair of tweezers

Now run your fingers slowly all over your dog, feeling for anything different no matter how small. If you find something, take a look with the torch. Separate the fur, if you find a grass seed pull it out with tweezers. Be careful not to break it off, it will not come out easy if seed because of the barbs. Check inside the ears. If you find any lumps, contact your vet.

Check for Fleas and Ticks

Fleas may cause your dog to scratch. Even if your dog does not have fleas still treat with flea control regularly, and if you go into countryside areas it is advisable to treat for tick as well.

Treatment for Fleas and Ticks

Use a good flea control. Wash and clean all bedding and treat with flea powder. 

Grooming Your Dog

Dog Grooming - Fur needs trimmingCredit: © T Photos

Use a good brush or comb to remove tangles and prickles from the coat. A good brushing helps to remove dead hairs. Some dogs need regular grooming to trim their fur short in summer to keep them cool and clean.  If cut in winter make them a little dog coat to keep them warm.

Washing Your Dog

Always use a shampoo specifically designed for dogs. Never use your own personal shampoo, as this may irritate their skin. Follow the directions on bottle especially if supplied by your vet. Rinse off and dry thoroughly after washing with a clean dry towel. Make sure you dry the ears.

Dogs roll when itchy- rolling is like scratchingCredit: © T Photos

If our dog is itchy he will roll on any type of surface even lumpy big rocks.

Tip: If you have taught your dog to shake this will remove excess water from his coat before attempting to dry him with a towel.

Dry your dog after a swim in the ocean especially in the winter. Our dog loves to roll on the lawn after swimming, this helps remove some of the water.

Skin Itching - Titan rolling on sand at beachCredit: © T Photos
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This is enough to give your pet relief for up to 3 months against fleas, lice, eggs and ticks.

Your dog will be much happier without having fleas. Tick bites can also be fatal so protect your pets.

Other Causes of Itching

  • Skin infections
  • Atopic canine dermatitis
  • Food allergies[2]

What is Atopy?

Atopy is like a canine (dermatitis) or allergy; mites, pollens and moulds. This can affect a small percentage of dogs and is hard to diagnose. This affects some dogs more than others; seek medical advice from your vet for the treatment which will make sure your dog has a good life free from itching. Keep in mind this is a lifelong condition.

What Causes Food Allergies?

Many vets blame the meat protein for many food allergies like; beef, chicken and lamb. On the other hand, some dog owners blame wheat and soybeans for their dog allergies.

Signs of allergies – your dog could have any of the following: diarrhoea, vomiting and flatulence, whereas others have skin symptoms of scratching, and ear infections.

Some other infections to the dog’s skin could stem from contagious and non- contagious infections like parasites, bacterial and fungal skin diseases.  Scabies and mange is the more common.

Mite and lice is another example of contagious infestation.

The most common fungal skin infection in pets is ringworm although this affects puppies and cats more so than the adult dog.[1]

If your dog has any of these skin allergies you may need to change his diet and consult your vet for the best advice for your cat or dog.

While caring for your dog there is another problem to look for, and that is his teeth. Bad teeth can cause many health problems in your dog. 

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