Six Game Changing Tips to Healthy Skin for Your Dog

From fleas in the summer to seasonal allergies in the spring, skin issues have been reported to be the leading concern of pet owners.

Many dogs are sensitive to environmental allergens as well as contact irritants found in the home including detergents used to wash blankets and bedding, household cleaners, or sprays used in the yard.

So, what are some natural ways to help take care of your dog’s skin? Taking a holistic approach to maintaining healthy skin aims to help the body heal itself by supporting the immune system and where possible, reduce exposure to the seasonal allergens that may be causing the problem. Here are a handful of our favourite natural remedies.

 

Calendula for pet skin

1. Herbal remedies

Calendula: Calendula is an herb, a flower in fact, that is well known for maintaining skin health, this time from the outside, in. It is used traditionally to soothe and comfort skin and is a safe option. It is available specifically for pets as gels, sprays and creams. You can also make a tea by steeping calendula flowers in hot water, allowing it to cool and then apply the tea to the skin.

Aloe Vera: Also an herb, Aloe Vera is soothing to the skin and can be used topically. Traditionally available as a gel it can be applied directly to the skin.

Healthy greens

2. Healthy Greens

Not only are greens recommended to maintain our own health, they can also be beneficial to dogs! In Chinese Medicine, greens such as dandelion leaves, spinach, lettuce and celery are known as cooling foods. As we mentioned earlier sometimes we need to look further than skin deep; these cooling greens support and nourish the liver, which may in turn benefit skin health.

Fish oil

3. Go fish!

Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) can be very helpful and supportive to the skin. EFA’s can be found in good quality fish or plant-based oils.

Doggy bath time

4. Bath time!

Most dogs, unless they get very dirty, generally only need to be bathed once a month. Ideally dogs should be bathed in a natural, soap-free shampoo to ensure that the healthy oils on the surface of the skin are not stripped away. The oils on the skin allow the skin to remain supple and provide a natural, protective barrier.

Natural oatmeal shampoos are soothing to the skin and help to maintain healthy skin and coat. To make an easy DIY oatmeal bath, I like to take a few handfuls of rolled oats, grind in the coffee grinder into a powder and then add to warm water to create a milky bath. Dog-specific natural oatmeal shampoos are also available through veterinarians and pet retailers. Human shampoo should never be used on dogs as we have different skin and it may be irritating to your dog.

For more DIY ideas, read The Benefits of Organic Dog Shampoo (Plus 3 Easy Recipes)

dog brush

5. Give him a brush!

Most dogs and cats enjoy being brushed and you can use this time as a way to bond with your pet. Some cats, especially, do have a time limit and will let you know when your time is up, so strategic brushing may be required! Left side today, right side tomorrow! Cats are excellent self-groomers and are well known for keeping themselves in tiptop shape but did you know that up to 2/3 of the fur a cat sheds is ingested during grooming? By grooming your dog or cat you are helping them out by removing dead hair, which certainly makes them feel better.

As our pets get older they may have trouble reaching certain areas of their body to groom, especially on the back legs and chest. You may notice age related mats of fur developing as a result. So, in older pets it is even more important to help them out by grooming on a regular basis.

Keep your dog's digestive tract functioning optimally with these tips

6. Support immune function

Just like us, a natural diet is the cornerstone to good health. A healthy diet supports a healthy immune system, which in turn supports good skin health. What goes in really does show on the outside!

Our supplement, Vivamune, is super well loved by dog owners for its ability to support healthy skin condition. It contains our proprietary active ingredient, OxC-betaTM Compound, that has been shown in clinical trials to support and promote healthy skin and immune function.

The Benefits of Organic Dog Shampoo (Plus 3 Easy Recipes)

Whether your dog needs a routine clean or a solution to a specific problem dog shampoos can work wonders. You may be using an over the counter (OTC) shampoo just to maintain your pet’s hygiene, but have you thought of using Organic and DIY dog shampoos?

You may assume DIY means less effective, but as I discovered that’s not the case at all.  If we drop our preconceived ideas that lots of lather = clean, then we open our minds to a healthier way to get Fluffy and Fido looking, feeling, and smelling their best.

Organic dog shampoo is just like OTC dog shampoos, minus the side effects lurking in many commercial formulations. These side effects range from causing rashes to hair falling our due to reactions to the synthetic ingredients used in OTC shampoos. With an Organic and DIY dog shampoo recipe, your dog will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Organic and DIY dog shampoo recipes are safe for the environment This is because they are made from biodegradable materials which aren’t harmful to Mother Nature once inside the drainage system.
  • Organic dog shampoos are also safe for human caregivers. Of course, when shampooing your pet, you’re in contact with the synthetic chemicals in an OTC shampoo which can also be harmful to you. But, with organic ingredients this is unlikely.
  • Organic dog shampoos do not contain irritants, dyes, and chemicals—this is especially true if you’re the one creating your own shampoo. And with the absence of these materials and chemicals, it makes your DIY dog shampoo less irritating, safer, and gentler for your pet.

So, here are three different Organic DIY dog shampoo recipes you can use. There’s a daily dog shampoo against dog-stink or for maintaining a beautiful coat, organic shampoo against fleas, and a DIY shampoo recipe for dog skin conditions.

Neem Oil Dog Shampoo Recipe

Neem oil provides a lot of wonderful benefits for your beloved pet’s skin and coat. It helps a wide array of dog skin conditions like seasonal allergies. Neem Oil Dog Shampoo also contains moisturizing and softening properties.

CAUTION: neem is not recommended for use on cats.

Ingredients:

½-oz. Certified organic non-GMO Liquid soy lecithin

½-oz. Shea butter

2 tbsps. neem oil

8 fl. oz. Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 unscented Baby mild Pure Liquid Castille Soap

Directions for Use:

  • The first step is to properly weigh and measure all needed ingredients.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt shea butter.
  • Add lecithin into shea while still warm; mix well until lecithin is also melted.
  • Continue mixing until you reach a uniform consistency.
  • Add liquid soap and mix thoroughly.
  • Once the shampoo is no longer hot, add neem oil and mix well once more.
  • Transfer to an empty and clean shampoo bottle and label.
  • To use this Neem Oil Dog Shampoo Recipe, simply massage on to your dog’s wet coat and lather well. Especially focusing on problem spots.
  • When done lathering, rinse well.
  • This recipe is best used at least once a week until your pet’s skin condition goes back to normal.

Flea Repelling Lavender Essential Oil Doggy Shampoo

If your pet has bothersome fleas, you can help the infestation with this organic and natural doggy shampoo. Lavender essential oil is known to be an effective flea repellent for dogs, while gentle enough to be used on them.

Dog flea shampooIngredients:

2 drops rosemary essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

2 drops eucalyptus essential oil

2 drops peppermint essential oil

1 tbsp. Castile Soap

2-oz. Aloe Vera

10-oz. water

Directions for Use:

  • In an empty, clean, and lidded bottle, place all ingredients.
  • Cover bottle and shake to mix ingredients thoroughly.
  • To use this Flea Repelling Lavender Essential Oil Doggy Shampoo, simply lather on to your pet’s wet fur. Massage on to areas that have a high concentration of fleas like around ears and neck, on your pet’s stomach, along the back of the legs, and the base of the tail.
  • After massaging the shampoo thoroughly on your pet, it’s time to rinse it off with warm water.
  • You can use this shampoo at least once a week until your pet is flea-free.

Shiny and Stink-Free Doggy Shampoo

organic shampoo for labradorIf you love cuddling your pet but sometimes notice he smells, then this shampoo can help you remove that stink off your pet. Or, if your pet has a long furry coat and you want to keep it shiny, this shampoo will help you do the trick. This recipe also makes use of rosemary water which helps in curbing itchiness and dander issues due to its moisturizing qualities.

TIP: this recipe was made for Labrador Retrievers in mind. So, if your dog is smaller in size, you may want to lessen the coconut oil used as the recipe just might be a little too greasy for your pet.

Ingredients:

5 tbsps. Dr. Bronner’s Baby-mild Liquid soap

4 drops Lavender essential oil

1 heaping tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

A stem of fresh rosemary

3 cups water

Directions for Use:

  • In a pan, place water, add rosemary, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off fire and allow the rosemary leaves to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the rosemary leaves. Strain water as you transfer it to an empty, clean, and lidded bottle.
  • Add the remaining ingredients into the bottle, seal, and shake until mixture is thoroughly combined. The resulting mixture should have a consistency and look of a light cream or thick milk.
  • To use the shampoo, lather an ample amount to your pet’s fur and massage well all over your pet’s body.
  • Once done shampooing your pet, rinse off with warm water.
  • This shampoo is so gentle that you can use it each time you give your pet a bath.

Have you ever made your own pet shampoo? What do you add in to make it your own?

Itchy Pet? Food Allergies May Be To Blame

Did you know that food allergies are the third most common allergy in dogs and cats? Irritated skin is a common symptom in dogs as well as cats. It turns out that most pets aren’t born with food allergies – they develop them over time as their immune system becomes off balance (something we spend a lot of time studying here at Vivamune!)

Petco has created the following graphic all about food allergies in dogs and cats so that you know what to look for and how to manage food allergies. Let us know in the comments below if you have tried any elimination diets to solve your pet’s itchy skin issues.

Infographic

Image courtesy of Petco.

8 Insanely Simple Tips To Banish Pet Fur

If you have pets, you have fur.

And if you share your life with a breed that blows coat twice a year, you are no stranger to seasonal shedding.

You think you’ve vacuumed, swept and mopped the last of it. And then another furball flies across your floor.

In the never-ending battle of human versus fur, fur is winning.

I’ve had the same issues with my own pets. Could there be a way to manage seasonal shedding before the fur lands on my floor I wondered? So I researched all the options to solve this seasonal problem.

Want to know what I found out?

Get your brush on!

The fur your dog sheds each season is part of the natural shedding cycle. Brushing regularly helps loosen and remove fur, keeping it from ending up on your couch.

The degree and frequency of shedding is influenced by a variety of environmental and hereditary factors including sunlight, genetics, health and nutrition.

Changes in sunlight cause our pets’ brains to signal hair follicles to respond appropriately. Pets living primarily indoors are exposed to less natural sunlight and more artificial light. Their bodies lose track of seasonal changes. They shed constantly, year round.

The same factors that determine your pet’s fur colour also help regulate how much fur is shed and how often.  Some breeds are genetically pre-disposed to higher levels of shedding (i.e., husky, lab…) while others will shed very little (i.e., poodles, terriers).

As a general rule, the healthier the pet, the less fur is shed.  Issues such as seasonal allergies, digestive problems and stress may trigger an increase in coat turnover.

Diet and nutrition play a major role in influencing the texture and health of your pet’s skin and coat. Healthy skin supports healthy follicles leading to healthy fur and coat retention.

Kick it up a notch! If you’re ready to take brushing to a whole new level, check out the Furminator. Don’t let the price tag spook you – this phenomenol brush is worth every penny.

Bring on the ‘poo (that’s shampoo, of course)

Regular baths are part of good doggy hygiene.

Once shedding season arrives baths become especially important to help remove dead fur.

Our pet’s skin has different needs than our own. Using shampoo designed for humans can throw off the delicate pH balance of your pet’s skin leading to dryness and flaking. Harsh chemicals found in dish soaps can strip your pet’s fur of their natural oils. Choosing products made especially for dogs or cats ensures your pet’s skin and coat stay healthy and beautiful.

Our fave: We love Pet Naturals of Vermont Soothe Oatmeal shampoo because it’s gentle, soothing and all natural.

How often should you bathe your dog? The general recommendation is every 2-4 weeks. Bathing more often than this may disrupt the oils in the skin, which form a natural barrier to maintain hydration.

Related Article: The Benefits of Organic Dog Shampoo (Plus Three Easy Recipes)

Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

One popular remedy for skin and coat health is omega fatty acids. They are found most commonly in fish oils and act as a natural anti-inflammatory supporting overall skin and coat health.

Fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that fall into two categories: omega-3 and omega-6. Some fatty acids can be synthesized by your dog’s body. Others can’t be which is why they are called ‘essential fatty acids’. It is crucial your pet receives these fatty acids from their diet.

A popular fatty acid supplement is Krill oil, a potent source of essential fatty acids. More importantly, Krill oil is a highly sustainable food source with a high absorption rate making it ideal for dogs and cats.

While fish oils may show some beneficial effects, they can be inconvenient to give, as they can be greasy and smelly. Finding a fish oil specifically designed for dogs can help overcome these issues.

Our top pick: Grizzly Krill Oil

Turn inward

Beauty starts on the inside, right?

And when it comes to skin health, supporting the immune system is key to maintaining vibrant health.

Skin and coat health is an indicator of overall health.

The immune system works hard to keep your pet healthy and safe by keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Luckily the immune system is on guard, protecting your pet and keeping them out of harms way.

Believe it or not, your pet’s immune system is made up of two distinct, but connected systems: the Adaptive Immune System and the Innate Immune System.

The Adaptive Immune System is responsible for mounting highly specific responses against perceived threats. It is this system that kicks into action when your dog or cat is exposed to viruses and bacteria. It is also responsible for creating specific antibodies when your pet receives vaccinations.

The Innate Immune System is the body’s first line of defense. It is made up of organs such as the skin, cells found in stomach acid, the respiratory lining and specific types of white blood cells. It works behind the scenes providing your pet with protection against environmental stressors and pathogens.

Supplements that support the immune system can be of great benefit to skin and coat condition.

Keep on rolling

Lint rollers – those tubular rolls of sticky tape every pet lover owns – are the holy grail of pet fur removal.

If you have pets, have one of these on hand at all time. Lightweight, portable and easy on the wallet, they’re a no-brainer!

Go green!

Rubber gloves are an environmentally friendly and economical way to remove fur from furniture and clothes. Simply dampen and wipe!

How to banish excess fur on your furniture using ordinary rubber gloves:

  1. Put on rubber gloves (the regular old Kitchen variety will do)
  2. Wet gloves under cool, running water
  3. Using large, slow strokes, wipe the fur off your furniture and clothes.

When you’re done, simply shake off the fur into the garbage. Rinse the gloves under the faucet and you’re ready to enjoy your fur-free furniture!

Check it out 

If you’re concerned about your pet’s seasonal shedding your veterinarian is the best person to talk to. Your veterinarian can check your pet’s skin to make sure there isn’t anything else affecting your pet’s health, such as skin issues or seasonal allergies.

Suck it up!

No matter what you do, if you have a breed that sheds seasonally, you will always have to deal with some amount of fur.

When all else fails, invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner that works down deep to rid your home of excess fur.

The much-coveted Dyson vacuum tops the charts as the priciest on the market. But their sucking power and strength means they can meet the toughest of challenges.

Too busy to vacuum?

The Roomba is everyone’s favourite vacuum disk. It can tackle the tumbleweeds of fur without you lifting a finger. Simply turn Roomba on and watch it go! It will even return to its charger when it’s done ready for the next time you need it. Pretty nifty, right?

With a little preparation and planning, you can keep the fur off your furniture and clothes and back where it belongs – on your pet!

Are you a fur-fighting guru? Comment below and share your handy tips to keep your pet’s fur where it belongs – on your pet!