Does your dog scratch himself? Does he chew on his paws? Does his skin have bare patches? Does he seem uncomfortable?
If so, he may be suffering from skin problems. Skin ailments, while fairly common in dogs, are challenging to deal with. However, there are steps you can take to lessen their impact and possibly prevent them from occurring.
Feed Him High-Quality Dog Food
Skin problems stem from many sources, but nutrition plays a considerable role. Feed him a high-quality, less-processed food, and you will likely see his skin improve.
Many dry dog foods contain wheat and corn, which are common allergens, so try to stay away from food containing these ingredients. If you're buying a grain-based food, look for one containing rice, oats, or barley instead. These are less likely to trigger a skin allergy.
Also, look for the term "human quality" ingredients when buying dog food. Some dog foods use sub-par ingredients that certain dogs cannot digest properly.
Vary His Food
Experts now believe that feeding a dog the same food every day can cause skin allergies, so feed him different types of meats and grains. Introducing foods that are new to him, such as duck, venison, or rabbit, may help ward off allergies, perhaps even stop them in their tracks.
Look at canned or raw dog food for more options. You could also try making your own, which would give you complete control over your dog's diet.
Supplement His Diet
If you're feeding your dog high-quality food and still aren't seeing improvement, consider enhancing his diet with supplements. This is an easy way to provide him with nutrients he's not getting from his food. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements, commonly used to maintain skin health, can help reduce itchiness and correct dry, flaky skin.
Sunflower, safflower, and fish oils are all good sources of essential fatty acids. Ask your veterinarian for the correct dosage amounts.
Bathe Him Often
Bathe your dog regularly with a hypoallergenic shampoo, and seal in moisture with a good conditioner. Look for products that don't contain dyes or fragrances, which can dry out your dog's skin and make his skin problems worse.
Shampoos and conditioners containing naturally derived ingredients, such as chamomile and oatmeal, are good options. To work properly, some of these products need to stay on skin for several minutes, so read the directions to make sure you're using them correctly.
Pay Attention to His Paws
Wipe his feet if you notice him chewing on them, especially if he's been playing on wet grass. Some dogs are sensitive to the allergens found in grass, and wet grass is particularly aggravating.
It's important to stop him from chewing on his paws. Persistent chewing causes small scratches and tears which can become infected. Infection can spread quickly and make him itchy and miserable enough to require a trip to the vet. To prevent this from happening, just give his paws a quick wipe with a clean, damp washcloth, making sure to dry between each pad.
Get Professional Advice
Talk to your veterinarian at your dog's next appointment. She can give you tips that are relevant to your situation. If your dog struggles with skin problems no matter what you do, she may recommend prescription medication.
Good nutrition and regular baths can go a long way toward preventing many common canine skin problems. By maintaining your dog's skin, you'll will help him enjoy a high quality of life for years to come.