Original article by Andrea Servadio, Tails Magazine
‘Tis the season for dry skin and chapped lips! Cold temperatures, low humidity, and heated indoor spaces are the three main culprits that cause skin to become inflamed, itchy, and dry. Unfortunately for our furry friends, it’s not just people who suffer––your dog can too. In fact, dogs suffer from dry skin as much and as often as people do.
Here are some tips to combat that harmful effects of winter weather on your dog’s skin:
1. Reduce the frequency of baths. Bathing your dog washes away essential oils that help to moisturize their skin. If your dog was getting a bath once a week, reduce the frequency to every two to three weeks. When you do bathe your dog, use a shampoo that contains moisturizing ingredients like oatmeal and shea butter. (We like Richard’s Organic Moisturizing Shampoo, which is safe for dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens, and contains soothing ingredients like echinacea and sweet almond oil).
2. Use a soft brush daily. Brushing your dog spreads around the natural oils to moisturize his coat and skin. Buy a soft bristle brush (such as the FURminator Soft Slicker Brush) and use it daily to brush away dry skin and shine the coat.
3. Give a daily omega supplement. Omega fatty acids help nourish the skin and coat to reduce itching, irritation and skin allergies. Talk to your veterinarian about which supplement is right for your dog.
4. Apply tea tee oil to affected areas. Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial treatment that reduces inflammation, and in turn, reduces itching and irritation. Use a diluted product on affected areas to relieve pain, swelling, and itching.
NOTE: Undiluted or raw tea tree oil is poisonous for dogs. Only buy diluted tea tree products like shampoos, hot spot treatments, etc. Ask your veterinarian for their preferred brand so you can make sure the oil you buy is harmless.
5. Apply paw rub. Paw rubs, like Musher’s Secret, create a barrier to harsh outdoor conditions and prevent paws from drying and cracking. For prevention, use before every walk, or whenever your dog will be spending more than a few minutes outside. For treatment, use every day until affected area looks and feels better. If you’re feeling crafty, here is a recipe for DIY protective paw wax.
6. Use a humidifier. Indoor heat (regardless of the type of heating system) reduces humidity and wicks much-needed moisture away from the skin. Humidifiers can ease dry skin symptoms for both dogs and people. Set one up near your dog’s bed, or in an area they spend a lot of time.
7. Keep your dog hydrated. Just like people, drinking more water improves skin hydration. Make sure fresh water is always available, especially when your dog is exercising.
Follow these tips and this winter your dog can stay hydrated, moisturized, and itch-free!
Andrea Servadio is a dog lover and co-owner of Fitdog Sports Club in Santa Monica, California
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.