Is your dog’s skin itchy or red? Is he constantly licking or scratching himself? Has he developed bald spots? Fleas are a common cause of sensitive skin. Most pet owners can ward off flea dermatitis by using veterinary-recommended flea and tick medications.
If flea eradication doesn’t solve the sensitive skin issue, take your pet to the vet for evaluation and diagnosis. Don’t wait until the sensitive skin issue gets out of hand. The sooner you can determine the source of your dog’s discomfort, the faster you can offer relief.
Sensitive Skin Causes for Dogs
The first step in caring for a dog with sensitive skin involves identifying the source of the skin issue. Many sensitive skin issues involve allergies. These fall into several categories:
- Flea or other parasite allergy
- Food allergy
- Environmental allergy – reaction to pollen, grass, molds, etc.
- Excessive dryness – an environment with little humidity can dry out the animal’s skin, leading to sensitivity. Sometimes just installing a humidifier in areas where your dog sleeps can improve skin health.
Some breeds of dogs are more vulnerable to skin issues than others. Your vet will know about possible genetic issues relating to your pet’s skin problems.
Your vet will test your pet for his reaction to various allergens. Once identified, a treatment or mitigation plan is put into place. Treatment may include the use of antihistamines or corticosteroids.
Feeding a Dog With Sensitive Skin
If your vet suspects a food allergy, the elimination diet can pinpoint the cause. Food allergies are often triggered by:
Preservatives in dog food can also result in allergic reactions. The elimination diet involves feeding a single-source protein for several weeks to see if the allergies subside. If they do, the vet may have the dog go back to his former diet. Should a flare-up occur, the elimination cycle starts again with a different protein source. Some dogs benefit from a diet of unprocessed, natural foods such as fish, vegetables, and rice.
By boosting gut health, you may reduce your dog’s susceptibility to allergies. Your vet can suggest an appropriate probiotic.
There are many skin supplements on the market to improve dog skin and health. They may contain ingredients such as vitamin E, flaxseed, fish oil, and more. Ask your vet to recommend the best skin and coat supplement for your dog’s needs.
Bathing and Grooming
If environmental allergens are the cause of your dog’s misery, you may need to bathe him more often than usual to remove the triggers from his coat. Bathe your sensitive pooch with hypoallergenic shampoos designed specifically for canines. Avoid any products containing perfumes.
Always use lukewarm, not hot, water. Hot water dries out skin, resulting in further irritation. Make sure to rinse your dog thoroughly.
You may want to reach out to an experienced dog groomer and have your dog groomed professionally at least once. Groomers are familiar with the best ways to manage dogs with sensitive skin.
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