Top tips for protecting your pet's skin this winter
Winter - it’s a tough time of year for all of us - with extra layers to wear outside, cold faces and dry skin, it takes extra effort to get out and about. But what about our pets at this time of year? Just like us, the cold dry air (and extra heating inside) can cause cats’ and dogs’ skin to dry out and develop uncomfortable, itchy patches. Leaving these issues untreated can lead to excessive scratching, which can cause hair loss and even wounds which may become infected.
In celebration of National Winter Skin Relief Day (January 8) let’s look at the ways in which our pets’ skin can be affected by the cold, and what you can do to take care of those fur babies during the harsh winter months.
What to look out for
The symptoms of dry skin can include: itching, dandruff and flaking, scaling, hair loss, bad smell, inflammation and even scabs and cracking. If you notice your pet developing any of these issues, it may be time to tackle their dry skin issues and get to the root of the problem. Here are some tips we've found helpful:
Keep them warm!
On the coldest days of the year, try to keep your pets inside - and if you head out, it might be a good idea to add an extra layer of protection (a dog sweater or jacket, or booties for their paws). If you do take them out for a walk, avoid patches of sidewalk or paths that have been treated with chemicals or salt - these can be harsh on your pup’s paws. Keeping windows closed in rooms where your pets spend a lot of time will help to maintain a comfortable temperature for their skin.
Find some extra moisture
One of the main causes of dry skin in winter is the dry air that we all have to deal with - and the extra heating from the furnace can compound the issue inside the house. Investing in a humidifier can bring more moisture into the house and help with this dryness.
Consider their diet
Aside from the cold, one of the best ways to keep your pet’s skin and coat in tip-top condition is to make sure they’re enjoying a high-quality diet of nutritious food, packed with vitamins and minerals. A boost of Omega-3 fatty acids in particular (like those found in Smack’s Rockin’ Rockfish and Pacific Fish Feast) can improve the moisture content of skin and help with coat shininess and overall fur health. If your pet’s diet is mostly made up of dry foods such as kibble, it’s also a good idea to add in extra hydration (water, bone broth, kefir yoghurt) to make sure their moisture levels are where they need to be.
A groom a day…
Brushing your cat or dog’s fur or hair on a regular basis is very good for skin health - it reduces shedding and helps to remove any bacteria or flakes that may have collected on the surface of the skin. It also allows you to take a good look at the status of their skin and coat so you can notice any changes. If you’re finding that your furry friend is suffering from dry patches, it can also be a good idea to use a moisturiser. Coconut oil and Aloe Vera can help to eliminate the frustrating itch of dry skin (and are safe to consume, in small amounts, so are safe to apply to your pet). However, moisturisers only treat the symptoms of dry skin, so make sure to address any underlying causes.
Remember, there are many different ways to help improve your pet’s dry skin - and once the harsh winter months are behind us, things should start looking up. But be sure to check that it isn’t just the cold, dry winter air making your pet’s skin suffer - allergies, fleas and fungal infections can also cause these symptoms. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good idea to try to get to the root of the problem and help your pets feel healthier and happier - and hopefully a whole lot less dry and itchy!