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5 Questions About Your Pet's Skin and Coat Care

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Raising Pets
Suite 4, Level 1, 66 Albert Road
South Melbourne
VIC 3205

The skin is the biggest organ of the body and is very important for your pet’s overall health. It acts as a barrier of protection. Just as you spend time feeding and exercising your pet each day, their skin and coat should be cared for also. Skin problems are very common in dogs and cats, especially during the spring and summer months. Here are five important questions about your pet’s skin and coat care.

1. How often should I bath my pet?

It is best to start bathing your puppy when it is young, so that bathing becomes a normal part of their routine. The frequency of bathing dogs depends on: the breed, the season, how active they are (so how dirty they become), if they live inside or outside and whether he/she has any skin sensitivities. A dog’s coat needs its own natural oils to remain soft and shiny, preventing it from becoming dry and brittle.

Bathing your dog too often can strip away the natural oils. A good rule of thumb is to only bath your dog when they are dirty or smelly. The time between baths will vary from dog to dog, as the coat of long-haired dogs becomes tangled and matted if they go too long between baths.

Cats naturally groom themselves, so do not really need a bath unless excessively dirty. This is fortunate because most cats hate water and so do not tolerate bathing! It is recommended to keep the hair trimmed short around the bottom of long haired cats to prevent occasional soiling by faeces and therefore avoid the need for a bath. 

2. What shampoo is good to use?

A shampoo designed specifically for animals is the best to use. Pet shampoos contain specific ingredients that care for the coat of dogs and cats. For example, many pet shampoos contain aloe vera and oatmeal which are gentle on the skin and maximise the amount of natural oil in their coat. This leads to a shiny, soft and healthy coat.

Pet shampoos can also relieve mild skin irritations such as dry, flaky skin. Anything more serious than that a vet should be consulted.

3. How often should I brush (groom) my pet?

Like bathing, grooming your dog or cat should begin from when they are a puppy or kitten so that they see it as a normal routine. It is best to groom them when they are relaxed or content, such as in the evening or after a meal.

Regular brushing removes dead hair and dirt and prevents mats and tangles from forming. Twice a week brushing is plenty for short haired dogs and cats, while long haired cats and dogs require brushing at least once a day.

4. How do I prevent fleas and ticks?

Preventing fleas and ticks is another important part of good skin care. Chewable products given every month or Topical (Spot on) liquids applied to the back of the neck are the most effective Many pets are also allergic to fleas (called Flea Allergy Dermatitis), which compounds an already annoying problem. The bite of one single flea can cause a bad skin problem.

By keeping a close eye on the health of your pet’s skin you can prevent some skin conditions from worsening. For example, in summer some dogs develop “hot spots”. These are an acute skin rash in certain breeds.

5. My pet is always scratching – what should I do?

You should take your pet to the vet for a check up if they are scratching a lot. Skin problems are very common in dogs and cats, especially during spring and summer. However, skin problems can occur all year round. Allergies are a common cause of chronic itchiness and may be triggered by a number of factors.

Just as in people, allergies can be tricky to treat and control if a pet has multiple allergies. Certain medications, shampoos and a special diet are helpful in treating skin problems and often relieve the itchiness. This improves the pet’s quality of life as they become much more comfortable.

Author’s Bio:

Angela Hill is a vet in the North Shore area. She studied at Sydney University and today works at Gordon Vet Hospital as a Practice Manager.

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