Healthspan May 18, 2018

Grooming isn’t just for poodles – taking care of your cat or dog’s skin, fur, paws and nails will make for a happier and healthier pet this summer… 

Overheating, sunburn, itchiness, irritation, flakiness and pest infestations are just some of the problems our pet’s skin and coat can encounter during the summer months. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to help your pet enjoy their summer safely.

What a clever coat

Logic suggests that giving your pet a haircut for the summer months would help keep them cool. On the contrary, your dog’s coat helps to control their temperature and is their first line of defence against sunburn. You can trim some breeds (ask a professional groomer for their advice) but double-coated dogs such as Retrievers and Pomeranians should never be trimmed. Either way, one of the most important things is a good brushing schedule to prevent any build-up of excess hair which traps heat and moisture and can result in skin infections called ‘hotspots’.

What about washing?

Cats tend to take care of their own grooming – and it’s not unusual to see them grooming more often during the summer months due to the cooling effect of their saliva. Cats can, however, still benefit from a regular brush (particularly long-haired breeds) and if they enjoy it, it can be a nice way to enjoy some bonding time together.

Dogs delight in getting mucky, so all manner of sand, soil, grass, mud, dirt, chlorine or salt can be found in the fur of an adventurous dog. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, but many of these will irritate their skin if not removed. A good rinse can help remove these irritants but beware that shampooing your dog too often will remove natural oils, which protect and hydrate the skin and keep fur healthy and shiny.

For cats and dogs, an omega supplement can be one of the most beneficial additions to their routine, particularly if they suffer from summer allergies, itch frequently or if they are picky eaters. Omegas 3, 6 and 9 have long been used for helping to combat dry, flaky and itchy skin as well as helping protect against external bacteria and securing a healthier mane, so you’ll see your pet feeling more comfortable and looking healthier in no time.

Fleas in their fur?

Fleas and ticks love a new home for summer and without adequate pest protection your cat or dog’s fur can meet the needs of their whole family – which is handy since the friendly temperatures of summer coincide with their reproductive cycle. The odds are certainly not in your pet’s favour, so make sure you’re consistently administering a reliable flea and tick treatment.

Worms are another parasite for dogs and can be caught very easily, either through grooming themselves or others, or eating things off the ground. While you’re grooming your dog look for worms in or around their rear, a bloated stomach or the signs of weight loss. You might also notice visible worms or eggs in their faeces, worms in their vomit or diarrhoea. However, also bear in mind that while these symptoms can be dramatic, there can also be no symptoms at all.

The pitter-pat of paws

Cats and dogs both sweat through their paws, so keeping the fur trimmed especially in-between your dog’s toes is important for their temperature control. You can also wipe your pet’s paws with a damp cloth to cool them down – particularly if you’ve just been for a walk. Between the toes is also a common spot for ticks, so check them after walks and while you’re there, inspect their nails. Long nails can affect the way your pet walks, which can cause premature joint issues as well as increasing the chances they’ll get caught on things. If you’re walking your dog less on tarmac and more on softer surfaces, they won’t wear down as readily – so they might need seeing to as often as every one to three weeks.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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