Does your pet have dry, flaky skin? Is their coat in poor condition? Do they seem to be constantly grooming themselves? If the answer is yes to any of the above your pet may not be maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
The skin is the largest organ in the body, accounting for 12% of your dog’s body weight and plays a very important role in protecting the body from unwanted pathogens and substances, as well as locking in moisture. Having dry, sensitive skin can really affect your pets quality of life (imagine being itchy all of the time!) and so it is important that we do as much as we can to keep our pets’ coats looking and feeling as healthy as possible. With dogs in particular the skin can be exposed to some harsh conditions: tearing through woods and undergrowth, swimming in the sea whatever the weather and finding the muddiest puddle to roll in to name but a few. Just as we like to keep our own hair and skin clean and moisturised we should do the same for our pets. Like the human market there are many different products out there to choose from so it’s important we are selecting a high quality product that will benefit our pets the most.
Firstly, we need to understand how the skin works. There are three main defence mechanisms, which the skin provides: Physical, chemical and biological.
The top layer (the epidermis) is the most vital line of defence in the skin barrier. We liken it to a wall of bricks; it is made up of tough cells called keratinocytes, which are held tightly together by glue like substance. New cells are constantly being produced to replace the old cells as they are shed. This tight, non-penetrable brick like structure acts as a physical barrier, preventing entry of bacteria and unwanted material, but it also locks in moisture, maintaining hydration and waterproofing of the skin.
The skins chemical defences come from secretions such as sweat and cell residues which help to maintain an environment that favours the commensal (good) bacteria over the pathogenic (bad) bacteria.
The skins commensal bacteria deliver biological defence; these bacteria act as an army, competing with harmful bacteria as well as its own immune system. It is important that the levels of bacteria on the skin remain in balance, if there are any defects in the physical or chemical defence mechanisms this may allow a certain type of bacteria to thrive and multiply, which can result in infection.
Certain dietary and topical ingredients can support Keratinocyte health and function. A vital component in maintaining keratinocyte health are the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) that animals require in their diet. If your dog suffers from dry, sensitive skin, it may have an EFA deficiency. Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs support the skin in several ways:
- They are an important part of cell hormones and membranes, helping to control normal cell turnover.
- An essential component of the glue that holds the skin cells together.
- Are involved in the production and regulation of inflammatory mediators in the skin
An EFA deficiency will cause changes in the skin and coat such as dry and lustreless hair, fine scaling and thickened skin, which all lead to pruritus (itchiness). Lesions in the skin caused by the animal scratching will result in weaknesses in the physical barrier and thickening of the skin will alter the chemical defence mechanisms, both of which make the skin more vulnerable to bacterial infection.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with Coatex will provide it with the best chance of maintaining a strong, hydrated, healthy epidermal layer, preventing bacterial skin infections. Coatex comes in two forms, a supplement and a shampoo. Coatex EFA is a supplement which can be added to your dog’s food on a daily basis and comes in an easy to use airless pump bottle or alternatively gelatine capsules.
Coatex contains the right balance of all the necessary Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids as well as additional vitamins A, D and E that have anti-oxidant properties. The Omega-6 EFAs contained in Coatex enhance the epidermal layer whilst the Omega-3 EFAs act to provide relief from irritation in the skin. These ingredients work in partnership to:
- Maintain normal epidermal turnover
- Improve the skin barrier
- Relieve irritation
- Provide antioxidant action
As well as keeping our animals healthy from the inside out we can also use topical health products to support our animals skin from the outside. Again, it is essential that we select the right products. As tempting as it may be to reach for the shower gel if there is nothing else to hand, human products are a big no-no on animals. The skin structure of cats and dogs is very different to ourselves. Human shampoos are often too aggressive for our animal’s skin and can irritate and dry out the skin if used.
Coatex Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo is a gentle formulation with a neutral pH and comprises of ingredients which work synergistically to soothe itchiness and maintain a healthy coat and skin. It contains glycerine which has moisturising properties and acts both externally and internally to ensure the coat and skin condition is maintained. The oatmeal and aloe vera both act as natural soothing and calming ingredients to relieve itchiness and promote natural healing of the skin. Coatex Aloe and Oatmeal is a valuable component in combatting dry skin and can be used weekly for long term maintenance.
If your dog suffers from dry, sensitive skin, speak to your vet about the Coatex range. It may be just the thing they need.
Natasha Wilkinson BVSc MRCVS