Feature

6 tips to green-up your dog

Green Lifestyle

How to fix the six main environmental disturbances affecting your dog’s skin, in the safest way.

Cute-puppy

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Fido might look tough when he's covered in mud after his walk, but the truth is that dog’s skin is much more sensitive than our own, and it needs particularly careful attention when grooming.

Along with a lower pH level than our own skin, dogs have an additional thin outer layer that makes their skin more susceptible to environmental disturbances.

Here are the six main issues to be aware of, and my top tips on how to prevent potential skin infections.

1. Sulphates
A dog's skin pH tends to be alkaline (usually ranging from 5.5 to 7.5), unlike our own skin, which is generally more acidic (ranging from 5.2 to 6.2). Using human shampoo formulations on dogs can disrupt the functions of their outer skin barrier, causing irritation. In addition, most human and dog shampoos contain harsh chemicals and sulphates which are used as foaming agents, which dry and strip the natural oil from the skin, leaving it open to irritation and infections.

Instead, make sure you look for a specifically dog formulated sulphate-free shampoo which will gently clean your dog’s coat and avoid further irritation and help reduce the risk of infections. Consult your vet to find out which shampoo best suits your dog’s skin.

NOTE: Environmentally, many sulphates are sourced from palm oil, and if not sourced sustainably it can lead to a number of environmental issues.

2. Garden
Some backyard garden plants may cause skin issues for dogs so it’s important to know which plants may be harmful. Here are some common ones to watch out for:
• Poison ivy (leaves, bark &fruit)
• Brunfelsia (a type of nightshade also known as the Yesterday, today tomorrow plant)
• Poison sumac (a shrub or small tree)
• Wandering jew (a common weed)
These plants can cause skin infections if your dog has come into close contact with them. Safeguard your garden by familiarising yourself with your plants and remove any potential hazardous flora.

3. Weather
Moving into spring, dogs can suffer from a change in the weather which brings allergens like pollen. To help prevent your dog from allergies you may need to wash them more often. If your dog has an allergy which has also caused an infection, you will need to apply a medicated shampoo. PAW by Blackmores MediDerm is a sulphate free, low irritant, gentle medicated shampoo proven to help fight infections.

4. Fleas and/or mites
Insect bites such as fleas can cause irritation and constant scratching, which can tear the skin and cause infection. If the skin is broken, red or swollen, I'd suggest using NutriDerm shampoo and conditioner, with oatmeal for repairing and protecting action. Fleas procreate quickly where the eggs spawn in carpets, sheets and rugs. If you notice small dark insects on your dog make sure you wash them immediately, vacuum your carpets and wash your sheets.

5. Lack of activity
If a dog is not living in an environment that allows them to be active, such as in a high rise flat or a property with little garden space, they may suffer from stress or boredom. This could lead to frustration for the dog that they may take it out on their skin by licking excessively. Solutions for this are to take your dog for daily walks for them to run, and to provide dog toys to keep them entertained when you’re not at home.

6. Natural obstacles
Should your pet suffer from a cut, graze or burn it is best to attend to it naturally as an initial treatment. Research has found that medical-grade honey, and specifically Manuka honey, yielded from the Leptospermum species plant, has many beneficial properties supporting the natural healing of wounds, cuts and burns and also assists in reducing infections. PAW Manuka Wound Gel is a sterile medical grade wound dressing made from 80 per cent Manuka honey, natural nourishing oil and additional natural waxes added to help reduce the run off and support comfortable dressing changes. Of course, it is also advised to seek out the opinion of a vet who can assess the wound and recommend the necessary treatment.