BY LIZETT BOND
Asmooth and vibrant canine coat, coupled with supple, clear skin—minus flakes, bumps, grease and odor—often is the re- sult of optimal grooming and a high-quality diet. However,
factor drying winter conditions or springtime pollens from trees,
plants, and grass into the equation and the skin and coat might be
the first indicator of a health problem.
Itching and hair loss are common complaints, said Melinda J. Mayfield, DVM, technical services veterinarian for Rialto, Calif.-based
Vetericyn Animal Wellness.
“I’ve also noticed an increase in allergy-related skin issues recent-
ly,” Dr. Mayfield said. “And during summer, I see a lot of hot spots
or moist dermatitis cases. Vetericyn products work great for hot
spots, and they have some antihistamine activity, which helps with
“The skin is an excellent signaler of imbalance, and skin and coat
issues are always a result of an outside influence,” said Lorin Grow,
owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif. “The skin is the largest organ,
which also makes it a considerable area of detoxification.”
Dogs can develop allergies or sensitivities to ingredients found
in food, leading to itchy skin, sores and rashes, said Michelle Drnek,
co-founder of a Tobiko in Hampstead, N.H. Yet dog owners have be-
come more aware of the types of foods, such as grains, that should be
avoided to improve canine skin and coat health, Drnek said.
Grooming can remove dirt and debris and promote airflow within the coat; however, synthetic chemicals in grooming and flea and
tick control products also can lead to negative skin reactions, said Jeff
Werner, national sales director for Pet King Brands, the Westmont,
Ill.-based maker of Zymox and Oratene brand products.
“A pet owner dealing with an itchy or allergic pet can attest to
difficulties in providing relief, particularly if the pet is obsessively
licking, chewing or scratching,” Werner said. “If not managed, those
trouble spots can become infected.”
These owners are determined to provide relief to their pets by
seeking safe, easy-to-use options that will work, without the side ef-
fects of antibiotics, Werner said.
Sensitive skin and a dry coat might be the result of the many
unnecessary and harsh ingredients in today’s grooming products,
said Jill Taft, founder of BarkLogic, a brand of New York-based
“Sulfates can be incredibly drying to a dog’s skin, along with other harsh chemicals in the grooming products being used, and, once
[they are] eliminated, pet parents realize their dog was experiencing
a reaction to those ingredients,” Taft said.
Many consumers are demanding natural and organic options for
their own personal care and, in turn, are seeking the same for their
pets, said Janine Ling, owner of Kin+Kind in New York.
“Consumers shopping for skin and coat products tend to be so-
phisticated and discerning,” Ling said. “They look for the same types
of ingredients for their pups that are available in their own skin and
hair care products. Some popular ingredients for skin and hair are
active charcoal, argan, jojoba and coconut oil.”
These consumers will scour labels to ensure products contain the
simplest and purest ingredients, Ling added.
“Buzzwords include sulfate- and paraben-free soaps and preser-vative- and GMO-free supplements,” she said.
At Loyal Biscuit Co., which has stores in Maine, co-owner Heidi
Neal noted that oils and functional treats are in demand.
“We carry coconut, pollock and salmon oils, and the Zymox line
of shampoos and topical treatments,” she said. “My favorite shampoo
line, in terms of overall skin and coat care, is from a Maine company,
Mutt Nose Best. I love their products.”
Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, said that
for hot spots, Wondercide’s Skin Tonic Spray or Skin Tonic Oil are
“It’s very healing and smells good, too,” she said. “I also love
Vetericyn. It helps heal wounds and irritations, and disinfects.”
From Itchy to All Clear
Achieving healthy skin and a lustrous coat requires attention to both diet
and grooming products.