When you think of sensitive skin, what comes to mind? If you envisage red, dry, flaky or weeping rashes, you’re right - these are all signs of malnourished skin or bad dermatological health. While this is something humans experience, it’s also relevant to dogs. Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t pick up on the signs until their skin condition has become severe. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale signs of irritated or sensitive skin and treat them accordingly with the necessary diet changes and more importantly, with the right kind of shampoo.
Detecting Sensitive Skin
Blemishes or sores on sensitive skin isn’t always easy to spot on dogs. Many people think that bright red rashes and flaky skin will show through a balding patch of fur. The reality is that while this may occur in severe cases, quite often your dog’s sensitive skin will go unnoticed. Dogs will get red rashes or scabbing spots if they are suffering from irritated, dry or damaged skin and their natural reaction to this will be to nibble, lick, suck or chew the area for relief. These tell-tale signs should alert you to the area that is causing them the most irritation. Pay close attention to this. Licking will cause further damage to the sensitive skin and is something that should be monitored and discouraged when it becomes constant. It would be advisable to see your vet if their skin becomes completely discoloured or if your dog persists with licking.
Depending on the environment your dog is in, they may be exposed to certain insects or parasites which can have an impact on the health of their skin. Fleas bite your dog’s skin so it makes sense that they would leave behind nasty little bite marks in their wake.
Pet MD names six key causes for skin abnormalities:
- Environmental - Their current living space
- Nutritional - They may not be getting enough of the right food
- Parasitic - They’ve been subject to fleas or lice
- Allergic - They may be having an external reaction to something
- Neurogenic - They don’t have sensitive skin at all, but they’ve bitten and itched themselves raw!
- Infectious - Caused by yeast or fungal infections
The most common of these would be environmental - when you’re standing in the winter chill all day or sticking it out under the sun, you’ll notice your hands will either become cold and callous or warm and sweaty. It’s the same for dogs. While it’s true that they perspire differently to humans, they are still not immune to the weather. In humid environments their skin will not only become dried out, these temperatures are more conducive for the habitation of parasites. For dogs living in this type of climate it’s important to ensure they’re getting the right sort of nutrients in their shampoo to avoid skin damage.
Treatment and prevention
Calming or soothing irritated skin is easier than you think. Simple changes to your grooming routine and in some cases, changes to their diet will help nourish their skin. Check out our list of ideal shampoos and conditioners to assist with doggy skin damage or sensitive skin.
Using only 100% natural ingredients, you can trust that Natural Animal Solutions Sensitive Shampoo is ideal for dogs with sensitive skin. Free from artificial colours and perfumes, this shampoo is enriched with natural cleansers and moisturisers. Made with apple cider vinegar, chamomile, elder-flower, rosemary and lavender, the shampoo is really aromatic. Developed by animal naturopath, Jacqueline Rudan, Natural Animal Solutions will leave your dog with a silky smooth coat, naturally.
We love it because: It leaves your dog with the smoothest coat ever.
Epi Soothe Sensitive Shampoo contains active ingredients to soothe and nourish dry or reddish skin. With colloidal oatmeal to cleanse the skin and remove dirt, spherulites to improve the skin’s health and chitosanide to minimise dryness, this shampoo will give your dog much needed relief. Best of all it leaves them with a sweet apple smell so your dog will smell great and look even better!
We love it because: The Epi Soothe Shampoo is like a natural moisturiser with the added benefits of oatmeal.
The Paw Sensitive shampoo is ideal for dogs with fragile skin and fur. It’s a nourishing conditioner and a gentle cleaner that won’t irritate your pet’s skin or clump up their fur. Many shampoos have a tendency of stripping your dog’s coat of natural and essential oils but Paw Sensitive Shampoo is different – it nurtures skin so it can gradually repair itself.
We love it because: It keeps their skin nourished, no matter how dry or fragile their skin is.
In a funky, purple no-slip bottle, PetHead Feeling Flaky Shampoo is great for dry and irritated skin. With Yucca and Chamomile extracts, the formula works to soothe and nourish the skin gently. Best of all it has a very unique strawberry yoghurt scent so your dog will smell great and feel refreshed.
We love it because: The sweet strawberry yoghurt scent that keeps your dog smelling fresh for days.
The Vetex Shampoo is the ideal addition to grooming time for pets with sensitive skin. Did you know that Vetex can be used on horses as well as cats and dogs? It’s true! Vetex will wash away the dirt, debris and dry skin on your pet while gently nourishing their skin. It contains Australian natural Tea Tree Oil which provides a mild medicated effect that relaxes and restores itchy or flaky skin, leaving them with a glossy coat and healthy skin.
We love it because: It contains quality Tea Tree Oil for rejuvenating skin naturally.
Dermcare Natural Shampoo is a hypo-allergenic formula made to be gentle on skin during bath time. Unlike some shampoos which are too gentle to be effective at cleaning, Dermcare Natural gets them squeaky clean and leaves them with a coconut aroma because of the natural coconut oils used. If your dog has a serious skin condition and your vet has recommended daily washing, you can use Natural Shampoo Dermcare on a daily basis. It’s safe to use because of its natural moisturising properties.
We love it because: It can be used on a daily basis if need be or if recommended by your veterinarian.
A shampoo and conditioner in one, Aloveen Oatmeal Shampoo is hypoallergenic and ideal for pets with atopic and contact dermatitis. Using cooling Aloe Vera gel, this shampoo unlocks the benefits of soothing oatmeal on itchy, dry or red skin. This is the best remedy for owners who prefer natural solutions to grooming and bath time.
We love it because: It’s made with wholesome, skin replenishing oatmeal.
Everyone knows that aloe vera becomes your best friend when you’re looking for something to soothe burns or dry, cracking skin. A natural remedy, aloe vera contains plenty of skin enhancing elements, so you can trust it treats your dog’s sensitive skin gently. Fidos Aloe Vera Shampoo is also compatible for use with long term flea control treatments.
We love it because: It can be used in conjunction with other skin treatments.
If you're unsure about which shampoos will work best for your dog, don't hesitate to ask! Shampoos come with so many different benefits, so if you're looking for something to treat a more serious skin condition, it might be a good idea to seek veterinary advice before selecting one.