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Animal Dermatology: Caring for Your Pet's Skin

Pet's Skin
How to Treat Dry, Scaly Paws

Dry, scaly paws are just as uncomfortable as dry, flaky hands. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep your pet's paws in good condition.

Wash Paws After a Trip Outdoors

Since pets do not wear shoes, they pick up all sorts of things on their feet. During the winter, walking through rock salt can be particularly damaging to paws, while lawn chemicals can cause irritation during the warmer months. Wash your pet's paws thoroughly after every trip outdoors to remove salt and other irritating substances.

Moisturize Dry Paws

Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to your pet's paws to restore moisture. Rub the jelly in thoroughly to avoid greasy spots throughout your home.

Visit Your Vet

If home remedies don't relieve dry, scaly skin, take your pet to the veterinarian. Scaly skin on a dog's toes can be caused by a yeast infection, which can only be diagnosed by examining a small sample of your pet's skin under a microscope. If your pet has a yeast infection, your vet may recommend bathing him with chlorhexidine, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur shampoos and may prescribe an anti-fungal cream that's applied to the paws and skin.

Irritated, itchy or inflamed skin is just as uncomfortable for your pets as it is for you. Although you can complain about the problem, the only way your pets can let you know that they are suffering is by licking or scratching their fur. If your pet suffers from irritated skin, try the following suggestions.

Buy a Humidifier

During the winter, there is less humidity in the air, which means skin tends to become dry and itchy. If your cat or dog scratches more often when the weather turns colder, or you notice dandruff flakes, dry air may be the culprit. Adding a humidifier to your home can increase the moisture level in your home and make both you and your pet more comfortable.

Change Your Pet's Diet

Itchy, flaky, red skin may be a sign that your pet is not eating a balanced diet. Since your pet's nutritional needs may change as he or she ages, you may occasionally need to change the type of food he or she eats. Look for foods that contain ingredients that are good for the skin, such as omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Not sure which food is best? Ask your veterinarian for a few recommendations.

Use Soothing Shampoos

Shampoos that contain harsh chemicals tend to dry skin, which only worsens itching and irritation. Combat the problem by using a moisturizing shampoo when you bathe your pet. During the winter months, cut back on bathing. Bathing your pet too frequently removes natural oils that keep skin soft.

Make Brushing a Daily Habit

If you are like many people you brush your pet when you remember, but do not make it a regular habit. In addition to helping your pet look well groomed, brushing also helps distribute oils through your pet's skin which prevents dryness.

Skip the Chemicals

You may not spend much time sprawled out on your kitchen or bedroom floor, but your pet probably does. Strong chemicals in floor cleaners, carpet cleaning products and room deodorizers can cause skin irritations. Skip those harsh products and look for products that contain more natural ingredients that won't harm your pet's skin.

Vacuum Regularly

Mold spores, mites and dust can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive pets. Vacuuming your home several times a week, or daily when your pet's allergies flare up, can remove some of these allergens. Wash bedding often to remove allergens too. Chances are no matter how clean you keep your home, your allergic pet will still experience some symptoms, such as hair loss due to constant licking, an unpleasant odor, ear infections, and red spots, pimples or scales on the skin. Your veterinarian can diagnose allergies with a skin or blood test. Allergy medications and injections can help relieve symptoms.

Protect Your Pet from Fleas

Fleas quickly reproduce once they invade your home. It's easy to prevent infestations by using topical and oral medications that protect your pet for months at a time. Treat your yard with a flea spray in the early spring to keep the pests far away from your pet. If you do use a spray, don't let your dog or cat outside until the spray has dried completely.

Do you have concerns about your pet's skin? Call us and schedule an appointment today. We will help you identify the cause of your furry friend’s problem and find a solution that will make both of you happy.

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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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