THE ITCHY POOCH:
With Singapore’s humid climate, most skin irritations in dogs are more likely to be caused by diet or allergies rather than the weather. Dealing with dry, itchy skin is a lot more complicated than simply increasing your pooch’s water intake. If Fido’s skin remains dry despite having sufficient fluids, it is probably due to an imbalanced diet.
In addition to ensuring well-balanced meals, there are many ways to help ease the itch. Many users on online pet forums swear by natural remedies such as fish, olive, coconut and vitamin E oils—all of which are readily available. Dr Grace Heng, veterinarian at the Joyous Vet, explains that they all work the same way: “These oils act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. They vary in taste, absorption rates and nutritional content, but are all helpful for flaky skin.” However, such oils should be fed in moderation. This is especially so for well-metabolised oils like coconut oil, because they tend to cause unnecessary weight gain. For extremely reactive and sensitive skin, avoid foods with colouring, preservatives, and high levels of grain (carbohydrate).
THE STINKY KISSER:
We all love receiving doggy kisses, but it’s only welcome when Fido’s breath is nice and fresh! Dental disease is commonly found in dogs, and yet, it often goes unnoticed. Nasty odour is the main indicator, and it could signal changes in liver, kidney and cardiac functions. If your pup is healthy, the smell is likely to be due to a build-up of food debris, leading to the growth of bacteria.
Popular herbs like parsley, dill and mint supposedly improve canine breath, but Dr Heng explains that they only mask bad smells. “These herbs deodorise the dog’s mouth, but they may not be effective in tackling the bacterial problem,” she says. No specific food will be able to wipe out the odour-causing bacteria, but adding antioxidants like vitamins C and E, green tea, pine bark extract, grape seed extract and milk thistle will boost Fido’s immune system, thereby helping his body to combat gum disease.