Monday, April 9, 2012

Winter Dandruff Issues and Your Pet's Health

The winter months can bring many beautiful and great experiences, but one that is sure to put a damper on your dogs and cats this winter season is dandruff. This affliction can cause itching and infection, but I will help outline how to avoid this by using shampoos, conditioners and other techniques.

Dandruff or seborrhea sicca, as it is technically called, is defined as the excessive shedding of dead and dying skin cells. We all know what it looks like, flaky and white, and most noticeable on darker colors. But our pets can suffer greatly from dry skin and can become very itchy. This itching and scratching can lead to skin infections and other serious afflictions. When hey scratch the surface of their skin, your pet will be breaking down the natural protection that skin normally provides.

Your pets skin as approximately seven layers and scratching will break them. You will notice scratch marks, possibly bleeding, and redness. Once the skin is broken, any bacteria on the top of the skin can get underneath and may cause infection and more itching. If this is left untreated, your pets dry skin can lead to more dry skin and more itching and become a vicious cycle. In most circumstances, itching can be more uncomfortable than pain and it can keep your pet awake at all hours

A first step is to provide your pet with relief. Consider giving your pet a bath with medicated shampoos and conditioner that you have cleared is safe from your vet. Similar to your hands and legs, when they become dry and itchy, applying soothing lotion can provide immediate relief. A helpful tip is to choose a shampoo that contains aloe or oatmeal or a product that attacks dandruff specifically, can be a great help to your pet.

To aid in prevention of dandruff, you may try adding fatty acid supplements to the diet of your pet. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements can provide daily relief and can prevent dandruff. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oil and will also help lubricate your pet's joints. Also consider adding a humidifier to your home, especially during winter months, to help your dog's skin and your own as well. Most home heating can produce very dry heat.

Another significant issue to address is your pet's hydration. Pets that fail to drink enough water can become dehydrated and it is very important that our pets drink plenty of water. Pets that are constantly dehydrated are prone to kidney disease and other serious ailments. If your pet doesn't drink enough water, try adding more water to their food.

Moving along, combing and brushing on a regular basis during the winter can help prevent skin ailments. But, also consider purchasing lubricating sprays that can be applied to the skin after you've finished your pet's grooming. Combing can be preferred over brushing though, so you can remove any dead hair. Combing can be preferred to help hair get to the skin and produce a healthier coat. A great tool to use is a flea comb, its teeth are close together and will ensure the removal of dead hair and it is normally advantageous to remove the dead hair before it comes out naturally around your home.

Isaac Macalister is a frequent contributor for Hartz and has written many articles pertaining to cat and dog needs. Including anything from dog training to summer fun with your dog