When pollen levels rise and your eyes start itching, you know allergies are in effect, but can you recognize allergic reactions in the family dog? Dogs, like people, are subject to environmental allergies, and it's often the same things setting our noses running that make dogs itchy and uncomfortable: mold, pollen and dust spores get trapped in fur and need to be removed regularly. Hypoallergenic conditioners can provide man's best friend with some much-needed relief.
Think about this next time you rub a handful of conditioner onto your scalp: your hair occupies just a small fraction of your body, while a dog's fur covers almost every inch of his skin. While frequent shampooing removes offending allergens from a dog's epidermis, baths can also dry out canine skin; a little extra love in the form of a post-wash conditioner will give your furry friend that extra level of protection against the maddening effects of itchy skin. In addition to providing hypoallergenic moisturizers appropriate for sensitive skin, dog conditioners improve fur shine and brushability for a happy, attractive dog.
Colloidal oatmeal is a popular skin conditioner for humans, but it's also an effective tool for relieving dogs of irritated and itchy skin. The substance is, as the name implies, comprised of oats ground so finely that they stay suspended in water. Oatmeal provides both protection against irritants like mold, and vitamins that moisturize and soften skin. Many dog conditioners contain colloidal oatmeal, or you can add it to the conditioner you make at home.
If you've ever had a sunburn, you likely know the soothing properties of aloe vera. Derived from a succulent plant of the same name, the gelatinous pulp has a long history of calming irritated skin cells. Both rich with anti-inflammatory properties and an effective natural moisturizer, a conditioner containing aloe vera will protect your pup's skin against drying and calm the effects of his environmental allergies. Make sure the aloe vera conditioner you purchase is hypoallergenic to avoid additional oils and compounds that might bother your friend.
A myriad of commercial medicated dog conditioners are designed to give dogs relief from skin allergies. Usually a solution for dogs with allergies so severe they don't experience relief from natural conditioners like oatmeal or aloe vera, medicated conditioners deliver powerful antihistamines or corticosteroids to affected skin. Medicated conditioners are available through online resources, but pet owners should consult a veterinarian before placing an order—a vet will provide invaluable advice about products' effectiveness and safety.
Rodney Wilson is owner and manager of Goldfinch Farm in central Kentucky, where he oversees veterinary and management practices for a diverse group of animals, from dogs and cats to pigs and chickens. He's written professionally since 2001, with articles appearing in such publications as The Cincinnati Enquirer, CiN Weekly, Baby Guide and Akron Life.