What is Dysbiosis? 5 Signs your Dog’s Skin Biome is out of Whack.

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:

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

GQ.com: For Healthy Skin, Just Add…Bacteria?

There is more bacteria on our skin than inside of our body!

Just like your gut, your skin can benefit from the right balance of bacteria. Marketing for soaps and hand sanitizers typically uses scorched-earth language, stuff like “Kills 99.99% of germs!” The idea being: Destroy all bacteria. But that might actually be bad for you—the way antibiotics disturb your body’s chemical makeup. Like your stomach, your skin has a delicate balance of bacteria called a “microbiome.”

“Our bodies are a symbiotic organism that rely heavily on their relationship with bacteria, inside and out,” says Julie E. Russak, MD, founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic. “We have more bacteria on our skin than we do in our body.”

Russak says that the skin microbiome protects us from invasive virus-causing pathogens and maintains the pH function of the skin. (That is, it prevents skin from getting too dry or too oily.) So how can we thwart the bad bacteria without offing the good stuff?

Apparently certain brands are rolling out “biome-friendly” products that specifically work to fortify the skin’s microbiome—like Mother DirtTULA, and even Clinique. They don’t necessarily contain live bacteria (though some do); instead, most contain “pre-biotics,” which stimulate the good stuff. Russak names lactic acid as one example: “It helps against acne and decreases inflammation in sensitive skin, thus restoring the barrier function of the skin, which helps with sensitive skin and eczema,” she says.

Here’s another way to look at it: Instead of an antibacterial approach (“Kill everything!”), these brands buttress the good stuff so that it’s strong enough to fend off the bad stuff on its own. (“Organize and resist!”) Another way to support your skin’s microbiome is to eliminate ingredients that kill the good microbes in the skin—these are typically the ingredients that preserve a product and thus give it a longer shelf life. So while you might sacrifice longevity on that cleanser, you make up for it by not sacrificing the healthy ecology that has effectively sustained humans for, I dunno, hundreds of thousands of years.

Your scalp and hair can benefit from a probiotic approach, too. A microbiome-friendly shampoo helps balance the oil production up top, meaning your hair gets less greasy…meaning you don’t have to shampoo as often. (This is a good thing, since shampoo strips your hair and scalp of its natural, healthy oils that keep them strong.) So, yeah, it’s a shampoo you buy so that you ultimately use shampoo less. Weird, I know, but it’s the same theory as a probiotic approach: Don’t kill the good with the bad! Preserve the good oils and increase your dependence on them, instead of stoking your repulsion to oil as a whole. You’ll have more good hair days because of it.

You can further benefit your skin and body’s microbiomes by maintain a pro-probiotic diet. “Include a wide variety of fresh, whole foods that will activate, replenish, and nourish your body,” says Russak. “And as long as you avoid common irritants such as processed foods, sugar, gluten, and dairy, your skin will thank you.” She also suggests eating foods like fermented organic veggies and fruits, as well as fermented yogurts (with live or active cultures) in moderation, though goat’s milk yogurt, coconut yogurt, and almond yogurt are good alternatives. And here’s one curveball: Russak “prescribes” sauerkraut as a source of many healthy live cultures, in addition to microbiome-friendly vitamins A, B, C, and K.

Bottom line: “A strong, balanced microbiome is essential for a glowing, healthy complexion,” Russak says.

Even if it means rubbing bacteria on your skin.

(Reposted from a Skincare GQ.com article – August 2017 – by Adam Hurley)

CURIOUS ABOUT PROBIOTICS & HOW THEY CAN BENEFIT YOUR PET’S SKIN HEALTH?  Click here to find out about Skout’s Honor’s Probiotic Skin Care line — FOR PETS!  Shop our probiotic skin care line!