Winter, as we know it brings about dry and often flaky skin. Keep in mind that our pets could also be suffering from these conditions, it's just we don't see them as readily due to their furry covering. Below are some of my tips to best look after your pet's skin and coat this winter.

Start with having a thorough look at your pet's skin
Part the fur in multiple places and really look closely at the skin itself. Is it flaky? Is it red or is it a calm pale, pink colour? Fur often hides what is really going on beyond the surface so take a minute to assess the condition of the skin. Although winter is usually a time where the skin is calm and less reactive to allergens, some poor pets suffer from year-long allergies and need a lot more attention.

Address the problems on the outside from the inside first
We all crave warm, hearty meals in winter time so make sure that your pet is receiving a quality food as well. Outside pets burn extra energy trying to stay warm in winter so invest in a diet that is complete and balanced to keep them fuller for longer and you will also see the difference in your dog's coat quality. This simple change can turn a dry, flaky coat into a shiny, luxe and easily managed one. The addition of omegas 3,6,9 can really help to rebuild the skin surface and many top of the range brands already have these within them, so check the ingredient list and your pet will thank you.

Continue parasite control even during the cooler months
It is a myth that fleas are only active during Summer. If you skip your preventative control during winter fleas will continue to make a home in the environment in which you and your pets live. So that in summer you will have a huge problem trying to eliminate them.. smart little things they are! Our pets are also allergic (some more than others) to the saliva from one flea bite, this reaction can last weeks to months so your pet can continue to scratch even if you don't see a live flea. There are some great, chewable options for your dogs which make preventing an infestation even simpler.

Don't over wash
Frequency of bathing depends on the skin condition of the dog and the breed, however, unless necessary, don't exceed a fortnightly bath. This can disrupt the natural flora and barriers of the skin causing dryness or flakiness. Consider using a natural dry shampoo instead to soak up any odours or surface dirt in between times. For cat and dog owners, brush them regularly not only to eliminate dead skin cells and fur but to stimulate blood circulation, improving the overall skin and coat condition.

Have some fun and indulge in a cute coat or jacket for your pet

Not only are there some great designs that mimic high-end fashion, some are really functional with insulation and waterproofing. These help to retain body heat and prevent the skin from drying out, especially in breeds that have very fine or short coats.

Lastly, nothing beats a good snuggle with your pet during the winter months! So take these moments not only to enjoy the warmth they provide us but return the favour and take a closer look at their skin too.

Dr Andy