About half of your pet’s bodyweight is made up of microorganisms. No joke! While this may sound gross, it turns out that the bacteria, yeasts and fungus (commonly known as the microbiome) play a more critical role in the health and well being of our fur friends than expected. In fact, the importance of the microbiome is something that modern medicine is just beginning to understand.
When the natural skin biome is out of balance, the resulting condition is known as “dysbiosis.” A recent article by Suzannah Weiss on Bustle.com discussed findings on the widespread affects of dysbiosis in humans, ranging from bloating to chronic depression.
While the gut biome and the need for a diet with probiotics gets plenty of attention in the pet world, current research conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology is finding that regular topical probiotic use in skin care products can prove beneficial to general skin problems associated with “topical dysbiosis.”
Most pet parents are closely in tune with their pet’s health status – but there are also some common symptoms that get overlooked, which could actually be a result of an out-of-whack skin biome.
5 Signs Your Pet is Suffering from a Dysbiosis of the Skin:
- They Itch a Lot
Environmental damage from wind, weather, over-grooming and even the occasional dip in the swimming pool can wreak havoc on a dog’s skin, stripping away the protective layer known as the sebum. The sebum is an oily layer on the surface of the skin that houses the microbiome and acts as the first layer of protection against pathogenic yeast, fungus and bacteria. Oatmeal shampoos and medicated products can provide some symptomatic relief, but do not address the underlying problem, and can often contribute to a relapse.
- They have excessive body odor
The number one cause of excessive odor is yeast. Dogs suffering from allergies or hormonal imbalance are especially susceptible to underlying infection. A lot of the over-the-counter solutions feature anti-bacterial properties, which can actually perpetuate the problem.
- They shed more than normal
All dogs shed, but if things are getting out of control it is most likely due to physical and/or psychological stress manifested in an autoimmune response. Most shampoos advertised as “de-shedding” simply help rinse out unwanted hair. Addressing the cause of stress is the first step and often requires a trip to the vet.
- They take a lot of antibiotics
Antibiotics are good at killing the bad bacteria, but they are even better at killing the good bacteria too – and they have no effect whatsoever on fungus and yeast (which is usually the real problem). Animals that take antibiotics regularly are open to all kinds of opportunistic pathogens and lack the support of their symbiotic community. The best bet is to avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary and actively replenish the beneficial bacteria (through ingestible & topical probiotics) once the drug cycle is complete.
- They have frequent hot spots
Pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly known as a “hot spot” is a common form of pyoderma. Bad bacteria on the skin triggers the immune system to react by creating an itchy, inflamed, bumpy skin rash that can quickly turn into a hot spot. Products that kill the bad bacteria do nothing to prevent it from returning or calm the inflammation, necessitating additional ingredients to help mask the pain.
Supporting a Healthy Skin Biome for Your Pet:
Topical probiotics are a great alternative to traditional solutions. “Probiotic shampoos and conditioners such as Skout’s Honor Probiotic Shampoo Products can help maintain the health of your pet’s skin and luster of their coat,” says Liz Hanson, DVM. “Using a probiotic shampoo has shown benefits to help prevent infection, combat hot spots, rehydrate dry skin, naturally deodorize, and prevent matting and excessive shedding.” Probiotic shampoo and conditioners is on the forefront of natural ways to help restore the health of your pet’s skin and maintain the natural beauty of their coat.