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How to Build a Skincare Routine for Your Dog

It involves a lot of discussion with your vet, apparently

We’ll do almost anything in the name of skincare. Snake venom? Put it on my face. Snail slime? Gimme, gimme. Nine-step Korean skincare routine? Yaaass!

Meanwhile, we shampoo our dogs whenever Halley’s Comet passes by Earth and call it a century. C’mon, our pups deserve better. Here’s what skincare for dogs should really look like:

Wash Them More

Austin Richman of Veterinary Skin & Ear suggests washing your dog as frequently as “weekly” to preserve their skin and coat, and his favorite shampoo for itchy dogs is BioHex from VetBiotek, which can help treat bacterial and yeast infections that cause itchiness. That said, how often you wash your dog largely depends on their individual needs and lifestyles. “Your dog should be groomed — brushed, combed, bathed — based on its breed or type, age and level of dirtiness,” says Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club. For instance, an active dog that spends its time running around in the mud obviously requires more bathing than one that prefers lounging on the living room couch all day.

While you wash your dog, make sure to rinse them well and check for any adjustments to their skin and other areas. “All shampoo should be rinsed, rinsed and then rinsed again to prevent residue making your dog’s skin dull, scaly and possibly itchy,” says Klein. “While grooming your dog, always be on the lookout for any changes in your dog’s skin that might indicate a medical concern, such as redness or inflammation, insect bites or cuts. The sooner you recognize and address these issues, the easier it will be to prevent them from causing a bigger problem, like excessive scratching, matting and unhealthy skin and hair.”

Protect Them from Pests

Rusty Muse, medical director of the Animal Dermatology Group, says “exercising flea control” is a must for maintaining a dog’s skin, and that you really should be using flea prevention year-round. Similarly, Klein adds, “Your dog should be checked regularly by your veterinarian to make sure he or she is rid of any parasites that would rob him or her of optimal health and nutrients. Dull coats can often be the result of this.”

Feed Them Well

“Just as we ‘are what we eat,’ so too for our dogs,” says Klein. “The foundation of healthy skin starts with nutrition. Feed your dog the best, complete and well-balanced diet, as listed by the AAFCO seal of approval, with the finest, most utilizable and digestible ingredients. Best doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive or most exotic or boutique brand. It’s the diet that best fits the need of your individual dog, often recommended or guided by your veterinarian.”

Muse mentions that dogs with dry or scaly skin may benefit from diets high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are incorporated in the barrier layer of the skin and protect it from being colonized by unwelcome organisms. But again, your vet is the best resource when it comes to choosing the right food for your pet. Speaking of which… 

Above All Else, Talk to Your Vet

For humans, the best skincare routine is usually an individualized skincare routine, and the same can be said for dogs, especially if they’re doing a lot of itching or displaying redness and irritation. “Recommendations for a dog with significant allergies are going to be different than recommendations for a dog that has no skin disease, typically, versus dogs that have other metabolic problems,” Muse says. “It’s important to talk to your veterinarian, or see a dermatologist, regarding options.”

Now ask your pup to give you its best Blue Steel.

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