It’s National Eczema Week! When we think about eczema, we always, naturally, think about it in people but, did you know that cats and dogs can be just as likely to develop it and display similar symptoms as humans as well? Have you found that your pet suffers from eczema or “atopic dermatitis,” as it is more scientifically known, or do you just have a sneaking suspicion that their flaky, itchy skin could be more than just a bit of dryness? Have a look at our Dos and Don’ts and see if you notice any change in your pet!
Kicking off with a Don’t, but it’s an important one! DON’T try to treat symptoms without trying to find out what the cause is. There are a number of ways to do this, but however you go about it, it will give you so much more information to go on when trying to help your pet. Then treat the symptoms. You can learn more about this in our previous blog on eczema and dermatitis in pets.
This will benefit any pet, but especially those with skin issues. DO feed a nutritionally complete (raw) diet with an emphasis on lots of healthy fats. (But fat’s bad, right? No! Fats are vital to your pet as part of a balanced diet) Make sure it is as natural as possible. We recommend Nutriment as our Bella loves it! Their food contains mostly meat with some added superfood ingredients but, luckily, these days there are lots of brands available.
DON’T go crazy with cleaning products. We’ve mentioned before that removing possible allergens from your pet’s environment can be very helpful in managing their symptoms, if those allergens are triggering the dermatitis, but increasing the chemical load in your pet’s environment can have the opposite effect. Give your pet’s immune system a break by relying on natural, pet-safe solutions where you can, and don’t forget your eco-friendly, gentle laundry detergent when you wash your pet’s bedding!
Invest in a humidifier. As we move into the colder months, you might start to feel tempted to turn the heating on. Central heating can cause the air in the house to dry out, which means the skin will struggle more to retain the natural moisture it needs to stay supple and hydrated. Investing in a humidifier could make your pet that little bit more comfortable and help keep itching and scratching at bay, so it’s worth a try. They’re not expensive and – an added bonus – your house plants may benefit too!
Bathe your pet all the time. If your dog likes rolling in horse poo they may need a bath every now and again, but normally a pet’s skin is pretty good at cleansing itself. Bathing can disturb the delicate balance of natural oils in your pet’s skin. If you do bathe, use a gentle shampoo that does not dry out or irritate the skin. Ideally, something with oats (like our Shampoo), as they have soothing qualities. You can also add extra oats to the bath for a relaxing, hydrating soak.
We have been conditioned to think of shampoos as the ultimate treatment option for pets with skin issues, but topical products can actually be better as they don’t require bathing (also a bonus if your pet hates to get in the tub!), which brings us to the next point:
As with humans and eczema, moisturising is an absolute must. Avoid human products (pet skin is even more sensitive than a person’s) and products with ingredients that are derived from the petroleum industry. Whilst not necessarily harmful, they don't really penetrate the skin, meaning they will temporarily soften the area but the benefits of the ingredients won’t go where they need to. Try a product that moisturises and nourishes the skin at the same time, with lots of active ingredients, vitamins and minerals, so that the skin has all that it needs to heal itself - like our Dog & Cat Sprays.
Another DO to end on! DO visit your vet if your pet’s skin becomes bright red, hot, inflamed or chapped - they could really benefit from a vet’s treatment if they’re having a particularly bad flare up. Know, however, that, as with human eczema, there may be ways to manage the symptoms without long and harsh courses of prescription drugs. The natural way is almost always better and more sustainable!
These Dos and Don’ts should help you keep your eczema-prone pet's skin clean and hydrated throughout the autumn, as the air gets colder, days get shorter and skin gets drier. Stay hydrated and moisturise your pet with our Anicura range!