with Lisa Peterson
Dear Lisa: My 18-month-old Boston Terrier has very dry skin lately. He scratches at himself and leaves dandruff all over the place. His coat is dull and lost its shine. Is there something I can put on his coat or feed him?– Dand“Ruff” Dilemma
Dear Ruff:Anytime skin symptoms arise, you need to look at possible internal or external causes. There could be several problems relating to dry skin including food allergies or intolerances, parasites - especially fleas – or worms, or some overall immune issue like Thyroid disease. Always consult with your vet if the problem worsens or persists.
But your description sounds like a simple case of cold weather dry skin or with the days getting longer he is beginning to shed and has an abundance of “dead coat” causing dandruff. The best way to help your dog’s coat regain its lost luster is to give him a good brushing. Do it daily. Start with a rubber mitt with little nubs on it and rub the coat in a circular fashion to remove any loose hair and caked on dirt, sweat, slobber, or whatever had stuck to your dog on his daily walk or romp.
Brushing & Rubbing Secrets
By using long sweeping strokes with the lie of the coat, you will not only pick up dirt and debris, which causes dullness, but also stimulate the oil glands in the epidermis (top layer) of the skin. Bushing releases these oils, which adds a shine to the coat. When brushing, use one hand for the brush and, ideally after each stroke, run a comb through the brush to remove the dead skin and flakes out of the brush. This way dirt won’t get ground back into the coat.
Start with a coarser brush first, then add a softer “finishing” brush followed by a towel or rub rag. Reducing the bristle size each time removes smaller and smaller particles of dirt. By the time you get down to the rub rag (an old cotton diaper works wonders) you are literally just picking up surface dust and stimulating oil glands onto a nice grit-free coat. All this rubbing promotes better blood circulation which aids in the growing and shedding cycles.
After grooming, to keep dirt from adhering in the first place, try adding a little tea tree oil spray to act as a repellant. This spray will also condition the coat and add luster after the rag rubbing. Another option for this cold weather dry skin is to add a touch of fish oil with Omega 3 and 6 to his diet.
Dear Lisa: Recently, two bats came into my house from the attic. There was a large one and a small one which flew around and landed in a few places and then disappeared. Later, I found my cat playing with one of them and it was still alive. The other bat then flew out and landed on me. Then my dog came up and jumped on me where the bat was. I keep the dog up-to-date on her rabies vaccination. Would she be at any risk to rabies if the bat had tested positive? – Up to Bat
Dear Bat: If your dog is up-to-date on her vaccinations then she should be okay for any exposure. However, if it’s been a few years since you got a three-year shot you may want to have your vet give her a “booster shot” just to up the protection. You can check your rabies certificate for the expiration date. Your vet may advise you to get a booster just to be on the safe side.
I’d be more concerned if the dog had the bat in her mouth. Rabies can be transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, through its saliva or through an open cut or wound. Rabies is very unstable outside the host and once the saliva dries its transmission rate drops rapidly. It sounds like you already got a negative test back from the health department. But should you have another visit from the leathery little creatures, there are outfits that can come and capture the bats and sent them off to the health department for you.
Prevention is the Best MedicineIf your dog was bit and you suspect rabies you might notice some symptoms such as disorientation, running in circles or aggression but that might not show up until a few weeks later. The best medicine is prevention. Rabies does exist in many other wildlife species such as foxes, skunks and raccoons, so keeping the dog within eyesight during walks in the woods will limit exposure as well. Eating a newly killed or dead, rabies positive animal can also cause problems for your dog even if she is vaccinated. Remember that the vaccine your dog gets whether it is a one-year or three-year booster is the same shot. The only difference is what the vet marks on the certificate as dictated by law. If you allow the rabies certificate to expire, then your dog is only eligible for a one-year renewal. If you renew your shot before the expiration date you can get a three-year certificate. The only exception is with young puppies, their first booster is always a one-year certificate.
Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at email@example.com and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses.© 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.