Monday, October 31, 2011

Onset of Winter: Scratch, Scratch Scratch!

We turned on the heat this morning and for both us and our pets that's going to produce some dry skin. There are many reasons why your dog or cat might be scratching: fleas, ticks, allergies, other skin diseases, fungus or simple dry skin can get pets itchy. Once the scratching begins it can cause secondary problems like hot spots and lick granulomas. 

We have seen many customers recently who are troubled by fleas. There seems to be a fall "bloom" of these nasty little critters, so it your pet is driving you crazy with the thump, thump, thump of constant scratching, get in close and make sure it's not a flea problem. The easiest place to spot a flea in on the belly where hair is sparse. Watch for little red bumps or small flecks of black "flea dirt" (actually flea poop) as well as the actual fleas scuttling away through the fur. We've heard dozens and dozens of customers complain that they have their dog or cat on Frontline or Advantix and the fleas just keep returning. Our veterinarian is seeing the same problems and recommends treating pets more often. Consult with your vet if you're using a flea/tick prevention product but still getting fleas. 

Diagnosing and treating skin problems is a complicated affair so once you've ruled out fleas you might want to follow the regimen recommended for dry skin. If the scratching clears up, voila, you're done. If not, there's nothing harmful in the steps you'd take for treating dry skin. From our friends at here are 5 tips for combating dry skin for dogs. The recommendation for cats is basically the same: 

1. Bathe your dog as little as needed to keep its coat clean. 
2. Brush your dog often to remove dead hair and dander. 
3. If bathing is necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo made for dogs. Their pH is different from ours, so don’t be tempted to use a human shampoo- it is much to harsh for their skin. 
4. Follow a bath when necessary with a moisturizing rinse made for dogs and their special needs. 
5. Don’t forget that healthy hair and skin comes from within. Use a good quality, name brand food and consult with a veterinarian about the addition of fatty acid supplements which can make for healthier, glossier hair.

 At Aussie Pet Mobile, we carry several medicated shampoos that are good for dry skin and other skin conditions, such as oatmeal and lavender shampoos and Epi-Soothe shampoo and conditioner by Virbac, which is prescribed by veterinarians for dry, itchy skin. We've been successful getting several customers' skin to calm down using Epi-Soothe. If your pet does get a hot spot, there are numerous products on the market that you can spray or rub onto the distressed area to stop that itch. Some are cortisone based and others have herbal ingredients such as mint or tea tree oil that are anti-itch. 

You might also try the hold home remedy to put a kettle of water on the stove to humidify the air. If you throw some cinnamon in it you've got dry skin treatment and holiday cheer all rolled together in one.

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