Identifying and treating a dog with sensitive skin is a common problem many owners face – with some breeds like Maltese, Terriers, Labradors, Retrievers and often white coloured dogs suffering ongoing itching, dryness, dermatitis and ‘hot spots’.
Common symptoms in a dog with sensitive skin include:
1. Itching – If your dog is constantly itching, and doesn’t have fleas – it is likely they have either dermatitis or a fungal infection.
2. Dry, flaky skin: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dry skin – particularly in Winter. You’ll see scaly or flaky skin under the coat.
3. Red irritation: If dermatitis kicks in, you may see red, raised or even weeping areas of skin. These will be very irritating to your little mate!
4. Hot Spots: These are very red, open sores on the skin. They start with an area that your mate can’t stop scratching or biting. Bacteria from the mouth or skin then enters the area and an infection occurs – leading to a vicious cycle of itching and irritation.
5. Irritated stomach: Internal reactions often lead to external reactions on the skin.
What could be causing it and how can I treat a dog with sensitive skin?
1. Harsh grooming products – A dog’s skin has a very different pH level to a human’s, and is also easily damaged by strong soaps or perfumes. Look for a hypoallergenic shampoo that is labelled as pH balanced for pets, and free from nasties like sulphates, soaps, parabens and ethoxylates.
2. Environment– Grass, dust, pollen and dust mites can irritate some dogs skin. Keep your dog’s coat short to avoid trapping allergens, wash regularly, and try exercising at areas like the beach where there are fewer allergens present.
3. Fleas – Treat your dog, and his environment for fleas and eggs. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common cause of itching and irritation.
4. Food allergy – Common food allergens for dogs include wheat, soy, corn, chicken and beef, and preservatives. Try a simple, non processed diet based on rice, fish and basic vegetables and see if your little mate improves. Or ask your veterinarian about skin prick testing to identify potential food culprits.
5. Gut Health – Some studies have shown that an imbalance of bacteria in the gut can increase susceptibility to allergies. Try boosting your pet’s diet with a probiotic supplement to improve overall health!
6. Fungal infection – Once the skin is scratched, bacteria or fungus can enter the wound and take hold – leading to an endless cycle of itching! Try a treatment shampoo with antifungal and antibacterial actions to nip infection in the bud.
7. Irritation – Cover any open hot spots, flea bites or scratches to prevent further irritation. Try a healing barrier cream like Rufus & Coco Antiseptic Aid – which uses tea tree oil to treat bacteria or fungus, and leaves a thick soothing layer to help prevent further irritation.
If your little mate is still suffering – see your local veterinarian. Treatments like corticosteroids, antihistamines and exposure therapy can help in allergy cases that just won’t budge.
Rufus & Coco 2in1 Oatmeal Wash – Shampoo and conditioner in one for sensitive skin
Rufus & Coco Itch Relief – Treatment shampoo
Rufus & Coco Antiseptic Aid – Soothing Tea Tree barrier cream
Rufus & Coco Inner Balance – Powdered, odourless, flavourless probiotic supplement that can be dissolved into food or water.
About the Author: Lorren Godfrey – Lorren has the lucky job of developing new and innovative Rufus & Coco products that help pets look and feel great, and make life easier for pet owners!
Rufus and Coco