Locally Family Owned & Operated Since 2010
Skin Health And How To Prevent And Manage Skin Outbreaks
Skin Has A Microbiome?
Think of the skin as an intelligent platform where your dog's "army" is fed and nurtured. Avoid viewing it as a passive surface that needs to be cleaned.
It turns out this cleaning process has a negative effect on dog skin health (and your dog's immune system!).
The skin is the largest organ in the body, protecting your dog from everything in the world outside of her.
The skin acts as a supplemental filter to the kidney for removing wastes from the blood, it is the organ of elimination. The condition of the skin is largely related to inner health and diet. Skin problems can be traced to digestive issues and an overload of toxins, which include vaccines, heartworm/flea & tick medication and pharmaceuticals. Breakout of tiny pustules, eczema, hot spots and dry skin... are all signs the body is toxic. The appearence of the skin is a good barometer of the general health of the body.
The biggest player in guarding against chemicals and the environment is the skin microbiome. This is the accumulation of bacteria, yeasts and parasites ( Yes, yeast plays a very important role in the microbiome when its in balance!). We all know the importance of a healthy ecosystem in the gut, containing 80% good bacteria and 20% bad bacteria.
Science is now realizing the role of that same ecosystem on the skin. We've discovered that, like gut flora, this ecosystem is paramount in preventing allergies, skin disease and autoimmunity, protecting against infection and inflammation.
Skin And Its Relation To Microbiome Health
We used to think the skin microbiome only existed on the surface of the skin. That the deeper layers were sterile.
We now know these organisms go all the way down to the subcutaneous fat layer.
Even more fascinating is the fact that the skin microbiome and the skin immune system communicate with each other to:
- decrease inflammation
- aid in wound healing
- limit exposure to allergens and UV radiation
- derail oxidative stress
Immune cells called Skin Associated Lymphoid Tissue
(SALT) "talk" to the lymph nodes within the body. These distribute signals to the immune system - pretty important stuff!
imbalance of the skin microbiome can lead to:
- skin allergies
- hot spots
- atopic dermatitis
- poor wound healing
- overgrowth of yeast
- fungal infections
Diseases like Malassezia (a particular type of yeast) and Demodex are all a natural part of the skin microbiome. When the skin's ecosystem is compromised, the bacteria that normally keeps these guys at a healthy level become destroyed. That's when the trouble starts.
How Conventional Medicine Can Contribute To Skin Disease
looked at the difference in community and diversity of the microbiome living on the skin of healthy dogs compared to allergic dogs.
The study found that allergic dogs had lower species richness of microbiome compared to the healthy dogs. This demonstrates that the skin supports a much more bio-diverse ecological system of
friendly health-supporting bacteria
fungi and viruses (microbiome) than had been thought before.
It also showed that the diversity of the skin microbiome in atopic dogs is reduced compared to healthy dogs.
Many times we see dogs visit Bark Avenue with skin imbalances. Anywhere from dry, flaky skin to red inflamed skin or constant itching. 9 out of 10 times these pets have been treated with steroids and/or anti-biotics and have continuously been over vaccinated. This entirely wipes out the microbiome externally and internally, leaving room for imbalances to occur with bacteria.
Things To Help Support Skin Health
Feeding A Species Appropriate Raw Diet
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in various parts of your dog's body, including the gastrointestinal tract, the oral cavity, vagina, nasal cavity, respiratory organs and even on the skin. The term probiotic literally means "for life."
The word comes from the Latin preposition pro meaning "for" and the Greek word bios meaning "life". Probiotics are often called "good bacteria." Keeping a good balance of good (vs. bad) bacteria is vital for your dog's health, hence the meaning of antibiotics which translates to anti life. Antibiotics job is to kill all bacteria good and bad, it does not discriminate.
In our world today we tend to always go to antibiotics for minor issues. This creates many problems in the future. If there is no good bacteria in the body to keep the bad at bay, inevitably the bad bacteria always comes back first and stronger than before.
Many times we see dogs riddled with allergies and skin inflammation due to the overgrowth of bad bacteria such as yeast and/or candida etc. Pet parents rush to antibiotics as a temporary solution, but soon find they are left in the same situation they started in and sometimes worse than before.
This is why it is crucial to supplement your pet with prebiotics ( found in raw foods such as produce, really anything that contains fiber) and probiotics which can be supplemented with a powder or found in products such as raw goats milk, fermented foods like kefir or kombucha and raw cheese, which you can find locally with us at Bark Avenue.
This will help clear toxins from his gut, liver, lymphatics and kidneys. Here is the best way to detoxify and support your dog's gut and immune system:
- Feed a clean, raw diet (it's worth repeating a million times)
- Detoxify your dog using Animal Essentials Detox Blend or Body Cleanse which includes the following organic herbs:
Detox The Liver:
Milk Thistle is the go-to herb for cleaning out the liver. If you're using human capsules, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and give your dog an amount based on his body weight.
It is not advised to take milk thistle long-term ... give it only for 2 - 4 weeks at a time and then continue every month or two.
Detox The Kidneys:
Detox the kidneys using Animal Essentials Detox Blend which contain these herbs as well.
Detox The Lymphatic System:
The lymphatic system does not move on its own, it requires regular
, massage and bodywork.
Raw Goat Milk
Raw milk (unpasteurized) is one of the most nutrient rich foods around. Just take a look at the nutrient profile:
- Fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2
- Healthy fats: Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) and Omega-3s
- Probiotics and digestive enzymes
- Protein/amino acids
- Minerals and electrolytes: calcium, magnesium, potassium
There are many health benefits of raw milk. It's been shown to strengthen the immune system and reduce allergies. Thanks to the probiotics and digestive enzymes it's great for gut health. It can even help to repair leaky gut and promotes better skin health.
Medicinal mushrooms are magical. The effects they have on the body are
astronomical. They are deemed by
medicine to be the ultimate source of healing.
Mushrooms are one of our favorite foods that can be offered on a daily basis. Mushrooms contain some of the most unique and potent natural medicines on the planet.
They've been used in Chinese herbal formulas for centuries because they provide such powerful health benefits. Medicinal mushrooms are packed full of vitamins and nutrients including beta glucans, flavonoids, pre-biotics, digestive enzymes and antioxidants, which all provide support to your pets skin.
One of the most well-known benefits is the amazing boost to the immune system. Digestive health and anti-cancer benefits are also good reasons to add them to your dog's diet.
Unique Ways To Help Your Dogs Skin
Let your dog Get Down, Get Real and Get Dirty! Take her to as many different dog parks, parks, wooded trails, beaches, farms as you can - the more diverse the dirt the better.
Get a kiddy pool. Then buy different organic soils and composts and put them in the pool. Let your dog roll, dig and play in it. You can sometimes add water to make mud and let her play in that too. Let it sit on her skin, then hose her off with just water and NO soap or shampoo. If you live in an apartment you can even do this with flat flower planters if you have a balcony or moppable floor surface!
Make a yogurt or kefir mask for her skin and coat.
Use three tablespoons of organic yogurt or kefir and add half a teaspoon of a
with at least 10 strains and 30 billion CFU. Increase the amount of yogurt or kefir as needed for the size of your dog and cover her in the mixture. Leave it on for at least half an hour and rinse with just water. If you have to use any soap, use liquid Castile soap (it's great as a household cleaner too).
Mutualistically Cross-Species Seeding
This means touching your dog!
have shown that children raised with dogs in their homes are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune issues. But what about the other way around? Touching our dogs, especially if we're dirty and sweaty, allows for cross-species diversity and "seeding." This creates a diverse ecosystem of microbiome for your dog and you! If your dog is really suffering from skin disease, try rubbing your body all over with a dry cotton towel BEFORE your shower. Then wipe your dog with it, or lay it across her bed. To me hugging and cuddling is even better but if you're apprehensive about doing it with a dog who has severe skin disease then this is an alternative.
One of the saddest things can be when a family stops touching their dog because she's smelly or looks "diseased," causing her to become emotionally isolated. Add a plastic cone to the mix and now you know why it's a huge passion for us to try and get to the bottom of the epidemic of skin problems in dogs.
How We Damage Our Dogs Microbiome Without Even Knowing It!
- "Hygiene hypothesis:" fear tactics make us believe we need to live in a sterile world to stay healthy. In fact it's not only causing the destruction of the body's natural ecosystem (our main source of defense) and life force! We are mostly comprised of bacteria, when bacteria dies, life dies. We are creating drug-resistant super-bugs and viruses.
- Avoid using antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and antibiotics.
- Avoid shampooing her weekly, monthly or even sometimes just yearly. A dog with an intact immune system should only need to be bathed with soap once or twice a year (a water rinse is all that is needed in most circumstances). A bath should be for emergencies - I'm talking about when your dog rolls in something on the side of the road.
- Avoid topical flea and tick treatments, not only are they neurotoxic they are also a problem for skin health. Anything you apply to your dog's skin can harm the natural skin ecosystem and these pesticides will too.
- Lack of dirt: not letting your dog get and stay dirty is probably the most important issue! That's right! Mud, soil, manure, other dogs' saliva ... just plain old fashioned dirt. Dogs and people used to get dirty: we gardened, they dug holes, ran through mud and played in everything.
Okay Great, But My Dog Is Stinky?
We do understand the struggle of living with your furry companion, after bouts of not bathing and just rinsing they do begin to smell like the great outdoors, our recommendation is using only natural ingredients! Products that do not strip our dog of their natural oils and their natural bacteria. Dr. Bronners organic castille soap is a great option, diluting 50% filtered water and 50% castille soap with a dash of apple cider vinegar is a great way to naturally bathe your dog without the negative effects. Young Living Essential Oils also has a shampoo product that works great as well. Be on the look out at Bark Avenue as we will be introducing these products to the store very soon!
Another option is essential oils. Essential oils are wonderful ways to naturally mask the odor of your pet, using them comes with great precaution.
Essential oils are extremely strong condensed forms of plant matter and are considered a strong, potent medicine.
If you do decide to use them we recommend introducing them to your pet first, giving them the option to say no, thank you.
We also recommend using essential oils from reputable brands such as Young Living or Doterra. With Essential Oils being a large trend today there are a lot of companies that press the oils using toxic ingredients or combine with unknown substances to water down the oil. We recommend only using companies you can trust.
Your Pet To Essential Oils:
Your pets may need some time to adjust to the new scents and sensations of essential oils. Use these tips to introduce your pets to essential oils in an easy and comfortable way.
- Wear essential oils throughout the day, so your pets will be exposed to the aroma as you hold them, play, or cuddle on the couch.
- Diffuse essential oils in spaces where your pets like to relax. Keep in mind that dogs tend to stay in a room with their owner even if something is bothering them. Closely watch for signs of irritation-such as whining, sniffing, nervousness, and excessive scratching-while diffusing around them.
- When diffusing essential oils around cats, be sure to only diffuse in areas that allow the cat to leave if it doesn't want to be there.
- Apply an essential oil to your hands and let your pets smell them, so they can explore the scent on their own terms.
- If your pets are jittery or resistant to essential oils, try applying an oil to yourself and staying near the pets for several minutes, so they can get used to the aroma.
Once your pets are used to essential oils, they will better handle topical application. Keep these tips in mind as you experiment with using essential oils on your pets.
- We recommend applying to the back for dogs and cats, being sure to rub your hands together until they are no longer shiny before rubbing the essential oil on the pet.
- For easy and comfortable application, rub oils between your own hands until they are no longer shiny and then apply by stroking the animal.
- For easier application in large or hard-to-reach areas, combine essential oils with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or filtered water in a spray bottle.
So What Is The Next Step?
Come to Bark Avenue! There are an abundance of ways to prevent disease in our animals.
Here at Bark Avenue we truly believe that food acts as medicine. If used properly, it can heal the body and provide the upmost source of health and vitality. We carry many different super foods and supplements. We are always excited to talk with our customers about nutrition and health. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to come talk to us!
Thank you so much for being a customer here at Bark
We are very grateful to be apart of your furry companions health journey.
Kiana & The Bark Avenue Team
Source: Dogs Naturally Magazine, Young Living Essential Oils, Canine Skin Health Article
What's New At Bark Avenue?
Love Bugs - Our new probiotic formula! Glacier Peak Holistics has discontinued their Pro-Bio Complete formula, but fear not! Love bugs is equally as fantastic and offers the same benefits.
Smallbatch Lightly Cooked Food
Smallbatch has introduced a lightly cooked, sous vide (vacuum-sealed and steamed in its own juices) food that even the pickiest pup cannot refuse!
Origins is a premier 5-in-one whole food supplement that adds real nutrition while providing total gut health support to improve overall animal health.
Farmina Dog & Cat Kibble
- $3 Off Small Bag
- $4 Off Medium Bag
- $5 Off Large Bag
- $3 Off Small Cat
- $4 Off Large Cat
Steve's Frozen Dog & Cat
Vital Essential Freeze-Dried Dog & Cat
Bravo Homestyle Complete
Earth Animal Flea & Tick
- Buy 2, Get One Free
- Beef Marrow Bones Buy 1, Get One Half Off
Primal / Zignature
- 20% Off All Freeze-Dried Primal
- Buy 1 Large Bag Of Zignature, Get One Free Small Primal Goats Milk
Dr Will Falconer has written the e-book, "Vital Animals Don't Get Heartworms".