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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Pet Dermatology: Old Wives Tales, Busted!

Cat scratchingWhen it comes to pet dermatology, don’t believe everything you hear!

Just as with any problem you or your loved ones may have, everyone has a personal experience and lots of advice when it comes to pet health. The trouble is, not all of it is good advice. In fact, there are many old wives tales out there surrounding the health of your pet’s skin, ears, and dermatological health. Before you follow your well-meaning friend’s neighbor’s advice, take the time to talk to us and sort fact from fiction.

Motor Oil Can Treat Mange?

Demodectic mange is a common pet malady. Thankfully we have many safe, effective options for treating it. Motor oil is not one of them.

The notion that bathing your pet in motor oil can cure mange is probably seeded in some degree of truth. Perhaps at one time this was recommended and perhaps motor oil did seem to help. Not long ago toxic chemicals were used in both humans and animals to kill mange and lice. It has only been in the last 10 years that the use of these substances has been replaced by safer treatments. The same thing goes for treatments like motor oil; even though it at one time seemed to be an acceptable option, there are a few good reasons to not give it a try:

  • The motor oil itself could cause skin damage to your pet
  • Your pet’s skin may absorb some of the chemicals
  • Your pet could ingest the oil, resulting in toxicity
  • We have other safe and effective treatment options available now

Don’t Bathe Your Pet

You may have been warned not to bathe your pet often. To a certain extent, this is true… but not always. Bathing a pet with normal skin on a frequent basis, especially with a shampoo that is not designed for an animal’s skin, can be drying and strip the natural oils from the coat.

This, however, is only true for normal skin. Pets who have skin conditions, especially allergies, can benefit from baths on a weekly basis (or more). This is because many allergies that pets have are triggered by allergens on the skin and physically removing these allergens can provide tremendous relief.

Another reason for frequent baths is that diseased skin lacks normal water, oils, and ceramides which good dermatologic shampoos and conditioners can replenish. For normal skin bathe your pet with a shampoo made specifically for animals, or one that has been prescribed by a veterinarian.

Don’t Get Water in Your Pet’s Ears

It is a common misconception that getting water in your pet’s ears while bathing or swimming can result in an ear infection. Typically, this is just not true. The ear’s normal defenses are perfectly capable of clearing water and preventing an infection.

However, some dogs and cats have abnormal ear function that can cause water to become trapped in the canal, which sometimes results in an ear infection. As a rule, it is best to clean your pet’s ears well after swimming or a bath, but know that simple exposure to water is not a common cause of ear problems.

Garlic Can Prevent Fleas

Many people will tell you that you can easily and naturally control fleas by feeding your pet garlic cloves, garlic powder, or pills containing garlic. This is untrue and potentially harmful advice.

To date there is no actual evidence that garlic has any effect whatsoever on fleas. Ingestion by pets, especially cats, can cause toxicity including a low red blood cell count (anemia).  With so many safe and effective flea control options, it is silly to risk your pet’s health.

For the record, feeding your pet brewer’s yeast, although somewhat safer, is equally ineffective for flea control. In fact, biologists who study fleas raise them in incubators and a key ingredient to ensure flea survival is brewer’s yeast.

Let Your Pet Lick its Wounds

There is a lot of folklore about the healing properties of pet saliva. Many people will tell you to allow your pet to nurse his or her wounds. Truthfully, dog and cat saliva is not known to contain any special healing properties. Allowing your pet to lick excessively can introduce infection and cause trauma, preventing healing.

Don’t get caught up in the hype! If your pet is having a skin problem, let us help. We are happy to hear from you any time. Please give us a call to schedule an appointment.