Canine Skin and Coat Care.
The bitter winter weather is almost upon us and, while it can be a refreshing change of season for humans and dogs alike, it can have an impact on canine health. With central heating and harsh winter conditions, our dog’s skin and coat are often in danger of drying out. This Holidays4Dogs article will look at canine skin and coat care and suggest some supplements for a healthy glow – inside and out.
We are able to use moisturising creams – particularly to help with the effects of low humidity and cold, icy weather. However, our pets may need a little help to keep their skin and coats shiny and hydrated all year round.
A dog’s fur is made up of a protein called Keratin. The fur grows from follicles on the underside of the skin, the same as in humans. However, canine fur grows in cycles. This means, that once it has grown to a certain length, it falls out.
Some breeds shed their fur in this way, more than others. The growth of hair is affected by seasonal changes in hormone levels and nutrition.
The skin is the largest organ in the dog’s body and provides a barrier of protection against the environment. The skin’s function is also to regulate the dog’s temperature.
What if my dog’s skin is dry and itchy?
If your dog’s coat is dull and lacklustre and the skin is dry or, flaky – it could indicate that something is wrong. Skin problems may be caused by allergens, fleas, mites or, dermatitis. If your dog seems restless, uncomfortable and is scratching constantly it would be wise to take your dog to the vet for an examination.
So, how can we make sure that are dog’s skin and coat is kept in tip-top condition? Here are a few suggestions;-
Olive Oil –
This is an excellent addition to a dog’s diet – cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is recommended. The best way to store olive oil away from the light, such as in a kitchen cupboard. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. One teaspoon a day will be ample for a dog weighing around 40lbs. Not all oils are good for dogs, however. Read our other Holidays4Dogs article on the dangers of toxic palm oil.
Coconut Oil –
This is excellent for clearing up dry skin conditions and is reputed to help with doggy odours. Most dogs will love one-half, to one teaspoon of oil added to their meal.
The fats in coconut oil are similar to those found in breast milk, (in fact, coconut oil is often an ingredient of baby milk formulas). It is abundant in lauric acid capable of killing bacteria and yeast. It also helps support thyroid function and aids metabolism.
You can also use cold-pressed human-grade coconut oil to apply to the skin topically. This helps to keep the skin soft and also helps with natural skin defence.
Grooming is particularly important in the winter months. Brushing your dog stimulates the hair follicles which, in turn, stimulates the skin to produce oils. This makes the coat gleam and keeps the skin supple. If you need to bath your dog, make sure any shampoo you use is made specifically for dogs.
Fish and other herbal supplements –
Diet is really important for good physical and mental health and there are many super foods that benefit a dog’s health. Many of these foods can be found in commercial dog food diets, but you can add certain specific ones from your own larder.
Tuna, salmon and sardines are all good foods to add to your dog’s diet. Fish, in particular, helps to keep the skin and coat in good health. It is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids – and dogs find it delicious! Alternatively, you can buy food supplements which contain fish oil. Try an oil like this.
Herbal supplements are a great way to boost the health of your dog’s coat and skin. In addition to nourishing the skin, many supplements can support the immune system.
Make sure your dog isn’t eating too many un-healthy treats. Dog treats vary very much in quality and ingredients and some are actually quite bad for dogs. Never give your dog human food such as biscuits, or cakes, and remember that many foods we eat are highly toxic to dogs.
As dog owners, we know how important it is to take care of our dogs on the inside as well as the outside.
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