Proper Pet Hygiene
Like humans, pets can experience skin conditions that may cause redness, itchiness, odor, and even wounds. Fortunately, many skin conditions can be prevented with routine bathing and grooming. Dr. Alison Diesel, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the importance of pet hygiene for both dogs and cats.
On one hand, most cats do not usually require a bath to maintain a healthy skin and coat, Diesel said. However, she added that older or obese cats may benefit from bathing to help keep their coat and skin healthy. On the other hand, dogs require regular bathing and grooming with a frequency that depends on their skin and coat health.
“Dogs without dermatological abnormalities benefit from a bath a couple of times a year or when they get dirty,” Diesel said. “However, dogs with skin problems often require more frequent bathing and sometimes benefit from specific kinds or medicated shampoos. If your dog has a skin problem, you should discuss bathing recommendations with your veterinarian.”
Though your veterinarian can examine your pet’s skin during a routine check-up, sometimes skin abnormalities can develop between appointments. If you notice any abnormalities while bathing or grooming your pet, you should have your pet examined by a veterinarian. Some noticeable changes might be increased odor and dander and may result in discomfort or itching in the animal. In addition, animals with long hair coats are prone to matting. This can irritate the skin and result in wounds when removed or clipped out, Diesel said. Furthermore, pets with long hair coats are at higher risk for fly strike and acquisition of maggots hidden within the mats and under the hair coat. These creatures can further damage the skin, causing wounds, infections, sepsis and potentially death, Diesel explained. More severe or persistent skin conditions may benefit from examination by a boarded specialist in veterinary dermatology.
Another important part of proper pet hygiene is keeping your pet’s ears clean. Most pet owners regularly bathe their pet to maintain their coat, but clean ears are just as important and should be part of your pet’s normal hygiene routine. When cleaning your pet’s ears, Diesel recommended saturating a cotton ball with a veterinarian-approved ear cleanser.