Skin Problems can be the most frustrating thing that owners have to contend with. Many skin problems are pretty uncomplicated and have simple solutions – Wounds, cuts and abrasions are generally pretty straightforward. Skin Parasites like Mites or Fleas, can all make your pet pretty unhappy and give them a very irritated skin with scabs and sores. Often getting rid of the parasites is a large part of the problem, and we can give you some great advice on the best solutions. Some pets will also need some medication to settle the inflammation in the skin, or control secondary infections.
Unfortunately, some pets just have skin which seems to be reactive and sensitive to just about everything – plants, grasses, maybe even the food you are feeding. These pets need a thorough and “whole of health” approach to ensure any underlying causes are identified (like allergies) and any contributing medical problems are treated (such as hormonal problems). Good treatment for these pets often means doing some of the little and simple things well – using the right shampoo, and following this up with a skin moisturiser; and providing a diet which will help to soothe and settle the skin.
Some medications can also be helpful to settle skin inflammation, but these need to be used carefully. Cortisone is commonly over prescribed and this unfortunately carries significant health risks for your pet, and can also make your pet’s skin problems harder to resolve as it makes the skin thinner and shuts down the immune system. This makes skin infections and skin damage much more common, and actually adds to the scratching and itching.
Other treatments such as desensitising vaccines for allergies and medications other than cortisone which will help to control and settle the itch without the side effects (such as atopica or apoquel) are also available.
In order to help you help your pet, here is some basic advice regarding treating your pet at home with skin problems:
- Always ensure your pets flea control is effective and up to date – fleas may not be the whole problem, but they always make any skin problem much worse. Comfortis is an excellent solution and highly recommended
- Use a soap free shampoo appropriate to your pets skin – Pyohex for red and scabby or weepy skin (eg “Hot Spots”), Malaseb for pets whose coat smells musty or “like wet wool”.
- Wet the pet to the skin, then apply the shampoo. Work it through the whole coat with a sponge (this is vital) and once you have a lather all over the pet, leave it on their coat for 10 minutes of contact time (this is also vital – use a watch!) Hydrobaths are great for these reasons – contact time and coat penetration
- Rinse thoroughly, then squeeze the water from the coat and dry with a towel (avoiding harsh rubbing, especially underneath).
- Minimise brushing, and do not blow dry
- If you have been advised by us to use a conditioner or moisturiser, apply this to the damp skin and coat, and work through.
Bathing an itchy pet in luke warm water as outlined above often provides some immediate and short term relief, and so we have provided this guide to help you. If the skin irritation or inflammation continues, please contact us for further advice and assistance.