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*Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats*

ACNE
9 Ways to Soothe the Skin

Sure, you won't find your Siamese staring moodily in the mirror, tube of Clearasil in paw. Your Doberman won't have to cancel a prom date or swear off french fries because of skin eruptions. But pets can develop acne that's as uncomfortable and unsightly as any tenth-grader's.

Located on the chin or around the face, acne in pets is typically caused by a bacterial infection inside a blocked oil gland, says Bernadine Cruz, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Laguna Hills, California. It may occur when normal scratching irritates hair follicles and causes inflammation of the glands. It can also be caused by allergies or hormones that are out of balance. In cats, it can be a result of less-than-thorough grooming.

Acne can occur in cats of any age. Among dogs it's most common in the younger set, says Wayne Rosenkrantz, D.V.M., a veterinary dermatologist in private practice in Garden Grove, California. For some reason it's the big breeds - mastiffs, Great Danes and their jumbo peers - that seem to suffer the most, he says.

While acne in pets isn't the social liability it is in humans, it can be uncomfortable, Dr. Cruz says. Here's what experts recommend:

For DOGS and CATS

Clean it daily. Gently washing your pet's face with soap and a washcloth will remove surface bacteria and help break down material that may be plugging the oil glands, says Dr. Cruz. To be most effictive, the washcloth should be "a little warmer than a baby's bath, but not scalding," she says. Scrub gently, then rinse well with warm water to remove the soap.

You can use any mild cleansing soap, or you can buy an antibacterial pet shampoo at the pet store. Don't use human deodorant soaps, which can be irritating, adds Dr. Cruz.

Add some heat. Another way to help open plugged glands is by holding a hot pack to the area, says Dr. Cruz. She recommends wetting a washcloth with hot (not scalding) water. Then wring it out and hold it on the affected area for about five minutes or until the cloth is cool. Do this once a day until the acne goes away, she advises.

Reach for echinacea. Given orally, this infection-battling herb, which is commonly sold in health food stores, may act like a mild antibiotic, stopping acne from the inside out, says Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Sherman Oaks, California.

Echinacea is usually sold in tablet or liquid form. Dr Scanlan recommends giving one-half the human dose to a large dog, one-quarter the human dose to a medium-sized dog and one-eight the human dose to a small dog. But don't give echinacea to your cat without checking first with your vet, she adds. Some cats may have trouble digesting it.

Put calendula on your calendar. A concentrated tincture made from marigolds, calendula may help quell the skin infection and speed the healing, says Stephen Blake, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in San Diego. He recommends mixing six drops of the tincture in an ounce of warm water. Using a clean cotton ball, apply the solution to the area twice a day, he advises.

Raid the planter. Applying a thin layer of gel from an aloe vera plant will help ease discomfort caused by painful acne, says Michael Lemmon, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Renton, Washington. If you don't have an aloe vera plant, you can buy the gel at most health food stores.

Don't swap medicines. Drugs made for people are unlikely to be helpful when given to pets, says Dr. Rosenkrantz. "Using any acne products formulated for people would probably justworsen the problem," he warns.

Avoid the squeeze. When a serious outbreak is making your pet uncomfortable, you may be tempted to squeeze the pimples yourself. Don't do it, advises Dr. Rosenkrantz. Squeezing pimples can be painful and in some cases will cause infected material to spread beneath the skin, causing a deeper infection.

Look at the big picture. While most outbreaks of acne will stick around a few days and then disappear, sometims it's a constant problem. It may be that there's something in your pet's environment - a certain type of flea collar, for example, or the presence of househould pesticides - that's causing the problem. Try sustituting a herbal flea collar for the chemical kind suggests Dr. Blake.

Go to the source. As in people, acne in pets may be caused by hormonal surges or inbalances. If it's an ongoing problem, you may want to have your pet neutered. "That can do a lot to help," says Dr. Scanlan.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Stephen Blake, D.V.M., is a veterinarian in private practice in San Diego.
Bernadine Cruz, D.V.M., is a veterinarian
in private practice in Laguna Hills, California.
Michael Lemmon, D.V.M., is a veterinarian in private practice in Renton, Washington.
Wayne Rosenkrantz, D.V.M., is a veterinarian dermatologist in private practice in Garden Grove, California.
Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., is a veterinarian in private practice in Sherman Oaks, California.

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