Problems with the skin and ears are the most common reason for a veterinary consultation. The skin also has a multitude of jobs to do and therefore keeping it healthy is a key aspect in the general health and happiness of your pet. The skin must help with hydration status; temperature regulation; protecting the tissues underneath; and keeping out any pathogens, chemicals, allergens or toxins.
When your pet has problems with their skin, it is often quite obvious but sometimes the signs can be more subtle. Some of the things to look out for would be: increased grooming or scratching; scabs, red spots, pimples or blackheads; flaky or scaly patches; hair loss or change in coat quality; a skin odour; greasy skin or coat; and red or thickened areas of skin. If you see any of these signs in your pet, it is worth making an appointment at your vet, because catching skin disease early is key for effective management.
Unfortunately the skin is quite prone to problems and one of the key areas in which skin disease becomes a chronic problem is if there is an allergy. Atopic dermatitis is a common condition in both dogs and cats. This condition unfortunately normally starts at a young age but is then lifelong. Starting signs can be difficult to spot but the earlier the condition is identified the better, to prevent permanent changes to skin quality.
There is no direct treatment for atopic dermatitis, therefore finding the best way to manage the condition can be a balancing act. A number of factors should be considered when making treatment decisions, such as side effects, resistance, efficacy and feasibility. In order to effectively manage atopic skin disease in the long term, it is usually best to use a number of different treatments and management modalities at once. We call that multi-modal management. Luckily, the skin is very accessible for direct treatment and using this multi-modal management can help to minimise side effects.
One of the ways in which skin health can be optimised is by providing the nutrients required to make the skin an effective barrier. The outer layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis, is itself made up of 5 layers. The outermost one of those layers is called the stratum corneum and this layer is vital for the skin’s barrier function. The stratum corneum is normally a very protective layer because it is waterproof. This means that no pathogens or allergens can penetrate and the rest of the skin can stay protected underneath. However, sometimes this waterproofing can become less efficient and one of those times is in atopic skin disease. Other times would be if there was a deficiency in the nutrition status of the pet or if there is another skin problem that has compromised its efficacy. The waterproofing of the stratum corneum depends on a combination of healthy skin cells and the quality of the glue that holds those cells together, which is made up of molecules called cerumides. The cerumides are actually produced by the skin cells themselves but the cells need the right ingredients in order to get it right. One of the key ingredients for healthy cerumides is a type of omega 6 fatty acid, which your pet should be able to get from their diet.
However, when there is a dietary or skin health problem it is possible to supplement the optimal omega 6 fatty acids for dogs and cats. This then leads to an optimisation of skin health by improving the function of the stratum corneum. Coatex EFA (from VetPlus), provides the exact mix of omega 6 fatty acids that your pet needs in order to maintain a healthy barrier function in their skin from the inside out. But Coatex EFA’s benefits do not stop there; the product also contains extra omega 3 fatty acids, to optimise the beneficial effects, and 3 vitamins that are all vital to skin health; vitamins A, D and E. It is formulated as soft capsules or in a pump bottle so as to give you the choice of administration method.
The Coatex range does not stop there, there are also two delicious-smelling shampoos in the range, which are designed to help with skin health from the outside. Coatex Medicated Shampoo is easy to use and can help to fight against bacteria and yeast, which are a common part of the problem in skin disease. Whereas Coatex Aloe and Oatmeal is a very mild, maintenance shampoo, which is specifically formulated to help keep skin healthy and itch-free. Both shampoos lather up very well and are pH balanced to match the pH of your pet’s skin, which not all shampoos are. Using a shampoo with a different pH to the skin can be harsh and have a drying effect, which is never good, but can be especially undesirable if there is already a skin irritation of any kind.
In conclusion, the skin is the largest organ in the body and as such, generalised, chronic or serious problems can have serious consequences on welfare and general health. It is very important for any pet-owner to take a pro-active approach to maintaining skin health in their pet. The Coatex range is specifically designed to facilitate that, with 3 different products all tailored to meet your dog or cat’s needs; Coatex EFAs to provide the nutrition needed for optimal skin protection; Coatex Medicated Shampoo for aiding the fight against pathogens; and Coatex Aloe and Oatmeal as a multi-purpose, maintenance shampoo. Ask your vet for more details on this fantastic range.
Dr Rosalind Gehring BVetMed(Hons) BSc MRCVS