Skin care is very important in the aging pet. The skin is the heaviest organ of the body, accounting for approximately 16% of the total body weight.
The skin has many functions to protect the body. It prevents water loss, allows us to perceive touching, protects the body from impact and friction injuries, keeps everything inside the body, allows for swelling, protects against ultraviolet rays from the sun, etc. It also helps regulate the constant body temperature, and provides the first line of defense against disease organisms gaining entrance to the pet.
Skin and ear infections are among the most common problems that occur in pets. These problems are also a major reason many pets are presented to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.
Check your pet’s skin often and look for sores, lumps, spots with hair loss, reddened or bruised areas, and external parasites (fleas, ticks, & lice). Brush your pet regularly to prevent mats and tangles.
How often you bathe a pet depends on a lot of factors. Bathing a pet every 2-4 weeks is probably sufficient to keep the skin healthy and to remove excess hair shedding in the house.
Use shampoos made for pets. Human shampoos are formulated for the pH of human skin, which is 5.5. The pH of pet skin is 7.5 therefore making human shampoos too acidic for pets. This is the reason many pets scratch worse after being bathed in a human shampoo than they did before the bath. We will be happy to make the appropriate shampoo recommendation for your pet. There are many different therapeutic shampoos available and the right choice should be chosen based on the condition and needs of the hair coat in your specific pet. Many coat conditioners are available to make your pet’s hair coat soft & glossy. Products are also available to minimize shedding.
Bathing itchy pets in cool water helps soothe the itching. Be sure to rinse after shampooing thoroughly.
PROTECT THE EYES
Place a bland ophthalmic ointment in the eyes before bathing the face. We will be happy to prescribe an ointment for you. NEVER USE MEDICATED OINTMENTS WITHOUT FIRST CONTACTING YOUR VETERINARIAN. Many ointments use to treat eye problems can create a problem in the normal eye even leading to blindness.
CLEAN EARS REGULARLY
Cotton balls with the appropriate ear cleaner should be used to keep ears clean. Q-tips should never be used as they only push debris further down into the ear canal. Any odor, redness, or itching should be signal for you to have the pet examined to determine the specific problem. Anatomy of the pet’s ear predisposes it to many ear problems. Once a problem develops, it must treated for sufficient time to ensure complete resolution of the problem or many ear problems will recur. See A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO EAR CARE for addition information.