*Home Remedies for
Dogs and Cats*
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.
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.
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.
acne in pets isn't the social liability it is in humans, it can
be uncomfortable, Dr. Cruz says. Here's what experts recommend:
DOGS and CATS
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blake, D.V.M., is a veterinarian in private practice in San
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.