cute dog and cat under blanket in winter.

These cold, dry Michigan months can take a toll on the skin, even for pets. Switzer Veterinary Clinic has some tips and tricks for you to up your pet skin care game and keep that coat silky and gorgeous all year long. 

Healthy Skin

Healthy skin and a pretty coat are about more than just looks for our pets. A pet’s outward appearance can be a reflection of their internal health. 

A pet’s skin forms the largest bodily organ, which makes up about 10-15% of total body weight. It contains the under layer called the hypodermis, the collagenous dermis, and the top layer called the epidermis. 

Hair follicles in the dermis create thousands of hairs, which are constantly being shed and replaced. Cats and dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors are more subject to seasonal shedding influenced by light and temperature, while pets who are mostly indoors may shed less but more often. 

A healthy coat and skin play a big role in pet heath. They offer:

  • Protection from the elements, chemicals, and external harm
  • Immune protection
  • Aid in the regulation of body temperature
  • Help in maintaining hydration
  • A place to store many important nutrients

Maintaining your pet’s skin and coat is an important part of pet care and also helps them feel their best. 

Our Pet Skin Care Tips

The winter months can pose an extra challenge when it comes to care of your pet’s skin. Low humidity, harsh cold wind, and deicing chemicals definitely take their toll. There are definitely ways to help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy, though, even in January in Alpena.

Some of our favorite winter pet skin care tips include:

  • Continue moisturizing baths when needed (be sure your pet is dry before they go outside)
  • Contact us to ask about supplementing your pet with skin supporting supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, zinc, and linoleic acid
  • Maintain your grooming routine—brushing can help to remove mats and support healthy skin oil production
  • Rinse salt from sidewalks off of tender feet
  • Consider moisturizing paw pads with something like Musher’s Secret
  • Ask us about the best diet for your pet to support skin health
  • Consider using a humidifier in your home
  • Don’t leave your dog or cat outside for extended periods

As always, don’t be shy about asking us if you are worried that your pet may be suffering from a skin problem. Winter weather can have negative effects, but problems like environmental allergies, endocrine disorders, and secondary infection occur year round. If there is an issue with your pet’s skin, it is best to have it checked out right away, so an appropriate diagnosis can be determined

Winter months are hard on the skin, but a good pet care routine can keep your dog or cat sleek, shiny, and healthy year round. The skin is an important organ. Give it the attention it deserves.