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Animal Dermatology: Caring for Your Pet's Skin

Pet's Skin
How to Treat Dry, Scaly Paws

Dry, scaly paws are just as uncomfortable as dry, flaky hands. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep your pet's paws in good condition.

Wash Paws After a Trip Outdoors

Since pets do not wear shoes, they pick up all sorts of things on their feet. During the winter, walking through rock salt can be particularly damaging to paws, while lawn chemicals can cause irritation during the warmer months. Wash your pet's paws thoroughly after every trip outdoors to remove salt and other irritating substances.

Moisturize Dry Paws

Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to your pet's paws to restore moisture. Rub the jelly in thoroughly to avoid greasy spots throughout your home.

Visit Your Vet

If home remedies don't relieve dry, scaly skin, take your pet to the veterinarian. Scaly skin on a dog's toes can be caused by a yeast infection, which can only be diagnosed by examining a small sample of your pet's skin under a microscope. If your pet has a yeast infection, your vet may recommend bathing him with chlorhexidine, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur shampoos and may prescribe an anti-fungal cream that's applied to the paws and skin.

Irritated, itchy or inflamed skin is just as uncomfortable for your pets as it is for you. Although you can complain about the problem, the only way your pets can let you know that they are suffering is by licking or scratching their fur. If your pet suffers from irritated skin, try the following suggestions.

Buy a Humidifier

During the winter, there is less humidity in the air, which means skin tends to become dry and itchy. If your cat or dog scratches more often when the weather turns colder, or you notice dandruff flakes, dry air may be the culprit. Adding a humidifier to your home can increase the moisture level in your home and make both you and your pet more comfortable.

Change Your Pet's Diet

Itchy, flaky, red skin may be a sign that your pet is not eating a balanced diet. Since your pet's nutritional needs may change as he or she ages, you may occasionally need to change the type of food he or she eats. Look for foods that contain ingredients that are good for the skin, such as omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Not sure which food is best? Ask your veterinarian for a few recommendations.

Use Soothing Shampoos

Shampoos that contain harsh chemicals tend to dry skin, which only worsens itching and irritation. Combat the problem by using a moisturizing shampoo when you bathe your pet. During the winter months, cut back on bathing. Bathing your pet too frequently removes natural oils that keep skin soft.

Make Brushing a Daily Habit

If you are like many people you brush your pet when you remember, but do not make it a regular habit. In addition to helping your pet look well groomed, brushing also helps distribute oils through your pet's skin which prevents dryness.

Skip the Chemicals

You may not spend much time sprawled out on your kitchen or bedroom floor, but your pet probably does. Strong chemicals in floor cleaners, carpet cleaning products and room deodorizers can cause skin irritations. Skip those harsh products and look for products that contain more natural ingredients that won't harm your pet's skin.

Vacuum Regularly

Mold spores, mites and dust can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive pets. Vacuuming your home several times a week, or daily when your pet's allergies flare up, can remove some of these allergens. Wash bedding often to remove allergens too. Chances are no matter how clean you keep your home, your allergic pet will still experience some symptoms, such as hair loss due to constant licking, an unpleasant odor, ear infections, and red spots, pimples or scales on the skin. Your veterinarian can diagnose allergies with a skin or blood test. Allergy medications and injections can help relieve symptoms.

Protect Your Pet from Fleas

Fleas quickly reproduce once they invade your home. It's easy to prevent infestations by using topical and oral medications that protect your pet for months at a time. Treat your yard with a flea spray in the early spring to keep the pests far away from your pet. If you do use a spray, don't let your dog or cat outside until the spray has dried completely.

Do you have concerns about your pet's skin? Call us and schedule an appointment today. We will help you identify the cause of your furry friend’s problem and find a solution that will make both of you happy.

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.


    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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