How to care for your sensitive skin dog

How to care for your sensitive skin dog

Some dogs, like people, have more sensitive skin than others. Telltale symptoms like itching and inflammation could be caused by food allergies or environmental problems. Should diet be to blame, you can take action to help your dog feel better.


Skin & coat boosters

Quality control: Let your veterinarian guide your choice of premium-brand food best suited to your dog’s needs. High-quality foods from manufacturers like Iams and Eukanuba contain ingredients that promote healthy skin and a shiny coat, with Eukanuba even offering a Daily Care Sensitive Skin option for problem skin, and a Veterinary Diets Dermatosis option for the most serious cases. Ensure that your choice of food contains the following ingredients:

Omega-6 & omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-6 fatty acids are found in animal fats and omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. These fatty acids help the skin replenish its own luster, which in turn helps reduce itching and scratching. Think of it as moisturising from the inside.

Proteins: With skin conditions it’s a case of less is more. If there is suspicion of food allergy choose a formula with just one rather exceptional protein source (e.g. fish  versus ‘poultry products’) and one carb source to reduce the risk of antigenic stimulation to certain proteins,” says Nelson. An exclusion diet with only 1 protein and 1 carbohydrate sources more likely to reduce the risk of allergic food reactions.

Vitamins & minerals: Biotin and vitamin E in particular restore nutrients in the skin and coat. Nelson also mentions Linoleic acid, found in the unsaturated omega 6 fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, for it’s ability to help restore coats to their previous glory.

Wet or dry: Both wet and dry foods may contain all of the above. “Premium wet food can provide the same nutritional benefits as its dry counterpart,” explains Dr. Amy Dicke, a technical services veterinarian for Iams.

Breed matters

Usual suspects: Certain breeds are more prone to skin and coat disorders. These include hound dogs, white dogs (think redheaded people with sensitive skin), golden retrievers (and other thick-coated breeds), Pomeranians, Doberman Pinschers and more.

Genetic disadvantage: Wrinkly dogs, such as Bulldogs and Shar-Peis, are notorious for their problem skin. A recent study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, determined that the wrinkled skin of Shar-Peis contains excess hyaluronan, which is the result of genetic mutation and also the cause of inflammatory skin disease. “With this information, people can avoid breeding Shar-Peis with many genetic duplications,” says co-author Dr Linda Tintle of Wurtsboro Veterinary Clinic. “Understanding the causes will also lead to more effective treatments.”

Additional tips

Whether your dog is one of the at-risk breeds or just an itchy mutt, the following three things could help:

-    Always keep your dog’s flea and tick prevention current

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-    Keep its skin as clean as possible by bathing and using wipes in between baths

-   Avoid frequent diet changes to lower the risk of antigenic stimulation. If you find a food that agrees with your pet, stick with it. Variety can be the spice of life but for sensitive-skin dogs, it’s best to stay with the tried-and-tested veterinary recommendation.

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