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Caring for your dog’s skin

Dogs and humans share a number of similarities, including sensitive skin.  Hairless breeds are prone to sunburns and acne, while some dogs develop severe sensitivities due to food and environmental allergies.  Caring for your dog’s skin can be done at home; listed below are common reasons for skin irritation and how to solve the problems.

Signs of Sensitive Skin
Is your dog scratching at his or her skin more than normal?  Have you noticed dry, white flakes in your pet’s fur that look like dandruff?  Can you visibly see a red splotchy rash on sensitive areas, such as your dog’s stomach?  If so, these are all signs that your pet is suffering from skin allergies.

Reasons for Sensitive Skin
Food
Did you know that dogs can develop food allergies and sensitivities, such as Celiac Disease, just like humans?  The most common allergens among dogs are soy, wheat, chicken, beef, fish, corn, and lamb.  Dogs that are fed a low-quality dry kibble diet can be especially prone to itchy skin caused by their food because of the additional presence of preservatives and fillers.

Environmental Allergies
Dogs also have a tendency to develop environmental allergies, such as to grasses and pollen.  Unlike humans, dogs will not have acute reactions at the site of allergen contact, such as watery eyes or an itchy nose.  Instead, histamine will be released throughout the body, causing all-over itchiness.  If your pet suffers from frequent ear infections or is constantly licking at its paws, chances are an environmental allergy is to blame.

Fleas
If food or environmental allergies are not the problem, check your dog for fleas.  To do so, pull back your dog’s fur and look for the tiny insects, which are approximately the size of a grain of rice.  Fleas typically congregate on areas where your dog has most blood flow, such as the base of the tail and near the neck.  Many dogs are allergic to the saliva of fleas, which leads to excessive itching and “hot spots.”

How to Cure Sensitive Skin
Limited Ingredient Diets
If you suspect your dog may have a food allergy, there are a number of options available.  When caring for your dog’s skin, many pet owners gradually switch their pets to the raw food diet, feeding only raw meats and raw bones, with impressive success.  However, this option is expensive and messy.  The next best alternative is to try an elimination diet, where you eliminate common allergens from your dog’s diet (such as wheat), and see if the symptoms go away.  Some dogs even benefit from seeing a canine nutritionist.

Frequent Grooming Sessions
If your dog has an environmental allergy, frequent baths may be necessary in order to remove pollen and grasses from your dog’s coat.  You can also wash your dog’s paws every time he or she comes inside, which will limit the amount of allergens inside the home.

Flea Preventative
If fleas are the problem, be sure to put your dog on a monthly flea preventative or purchase a flea collar.  Not only do fleas cause itchy skin in dogs, but they can also cause more serious problems, such as tapeworm infections.

Caring for yours dog’s skin isnt difficult, just paying attention to a few things at a time can make all the difference.

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