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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.