Have you wondered why your pet’s skin problems keep recurring after spending so much money on vet bills? Even if you’re the lucky few who don’t face the problem, please read on. Given the rise of unscrupulous breeders, there’s a high chance that your future pet will develop chronic skin problems. Besides, the recommendation I’m going to give today will help to improve your pet’s overall well-being. That, in turn, is going to save you a lot of medical bills and, more importantly, heartaches.
I have two dogs, and they are both on the same diet. Why is it that only one of them is suffering from skin problems?
Unfortunately, whether your pet is susceptible to diseases is already written in the genes, and others are more prone to certain problems because of their physical attributes. The reason? Let’s go a little into the details. Female dogs ovulate twice a year, and this period is the only golden window in the year when breeders have the potential to earn money from the dogs in holding (or what we call the ‘breeding stock’).
Because of this pressure, they would try to breed whatever dogs they could, usually resorting to in-breeding or line breeding (mating siblings or close relatives). This act results in what we commonly see in humans when the genes of both parents are closely related, the incidences of birth-related defects or genetic problems would be higher.
Furthermore, because of the defects, it lowers the animal’s chance of getting bought; the breeder, in his effort to utilize all resources efficiently, would use the defective pet for breeding again and, in turn, create a next-generation who are carriers of the faulty genes.
In addition, businesses being businesses would seek to minimize costs and maximize profits. With that in mind, would you think that the animals on the farm would receive quality care? Would they be fed quality food that is essential to good health? That is why so many animals grow up with poor immune systems that are so prone to diseases.
Secondly, some breeds are more susceptible to skin problems than others. E.g., Dogs with wrinkled skin (Shar-pei, Pugs, etc.) are more prone to Skin Fold Dermatitis because the moisture is trapped between the folds causing bacterial and fungal growth.
My pet has not had skin issues for the last couple of years up until recently. What’s wrong?
Just like in our human bodies, viruses, parasites, and malicious cells are present in and on your pet’s body all the time. They lie dormant only because they’re being suppressed by the body’s immune system. Whenever your pet is exposed to long-term stressors physically or mentally, take, for example, separation anxiety, possessiveness, change of environment, pregnancy, heat cycles, illness, or allergens from food or the environment, it may cause the body’s immune system to weaken and cause skin problem outbreaks and other problems like intestinal parasites and obsessive paw licking.
What do I do then?
Like humans, they can be stressed about anything and allergic to anything; therefore, a process of trial and error is inevitable.
If your dog is calm and you don’t think it is mentally unbalanced in any area, you can follow these recommendations:
- See a vet and get skin tests done to see what might be causing the problem (Bacterial? Fungal? Demodex, or Mange mites?) Medications can be prescribed to ease symptoms for a moment. Zymox is a range of enzymatic products usually prescribed for bad cases of bacterial and fungal infection. It’s usually my choice, too, because of its natural ingredients, which doesn’t have any of the harmful side effects that other medications, steroids, or antibiotic does. You can get it from the vet or The Grooming Table.
- Identify if there are any changes in your pet’s lifestyle or environment lately. Food, new members in the family, new pets, pregnancy, products, floor cleaners used, etc.
- Feed your pet a high-quality, grain-free diet or, even better, commercially available raw diets (commonly known as BARF diets). If you see an improvement, you can try reading up on how to prepare raw diets at home for your pets. A complete, raw, varied diet that is close to their ancestral diet helps to bring the body back into balance. (More on this the next time.)
- Eliminate any forms of bread, biscuits, or commercial treats. They either contain carbohydrates that fungus feed on, yeasts, or contain toxins that just wrecks the system. Here’s how to make your own.
- You can also try using raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, aka ACV (Bragg or Solana Gold), in their diets or as a leave-on treatment. For small dogs, add a teaspoon to their food daily, 2 teaspoons for a medium breed, and a full tablespoon for large dogs. It contains numerous enzymes and minerals, which have a variety of benefits, including improving digestion, balancing the body’s PH levels, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, and much more. As a leave-on, dilute 1 part ACV with 3 parts water and apply to the body after shampooing and conditioning. Dry as normal.
- Bathe your dog every 1-2 weeks. Too much sebum will be removed if bathed too often, which will stress the skin to produce more sebum. Too infrequently, the bacterial flora will over-colonize the dog’s skin, especially if the skin is already weak.
- Always apply conditioner after bathing. This helps to bring the skin back to balance after being exposed to cleaning agents. Also, rinse the conditioner thoroughly, as too much product on the skin will encourage bacterial growth, especially in hot and humid weather. For more information, read our article on how to give your pet a bath.
- Dry thoroughly after its bath.
- Do not use any fragrances on your pet.
- Although Singapore is warm all year round, I have customers who claim that during cooler periods, their pet’s skin did show signs of improvement. If really so, have your pet stylist give Fido a shorter clip or have the undercoat removed. Or place a metal sheet in sheltered areas to serve as a cooling pad.
Remember, the key is really a lot of trial and error. It is a tiring and painstaking process, but it is essential to solving the root of the problem. It is a long-term solution to save your pet and your pocket, not antibiotics and steroids. I wish you all the best, and please take a before and after picture of your pet’s skin and post it on our Facebook page, will you? Or did you have any similar experiences? Please share it on our Facebook page.