How to manage the golden retriever’s skin problems

They are prone to skin problems Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds for pet dogs here in New Zealand and it’s not hard to see why.

They have great, easy-going temperaments, they’re smart making them easy to train and they’re very amiable making them the perfect family pet.

However, whilst their distinctive glossy golden coat makes them look beautiful, this breed can be more predisposed to some health conditions when it comes to their skin.

Why are Golden Retrievers more prone to skin problems?

There are lots of contributing factors to why Golden Retrievers are more predisposed to skin problems, some are environmental, and some are genetic.

Golden Retrievers are double-coated, the have a dense undercoat and a long outer coat. In the wild this is a great advantage; it means the topcoat can stop too much heat from getting in when it’s warm and the undercoat traps in their body heat when it’s cold and provide some water resistance.

As a loved pet it means it can be easier to trap grass seeds, fleas and ticks and water. If your Goldie loves going for a swim or a walk in the rain and its coat is soaked, it’s important you make sure they’re properly dried as too much-trapped water in their undercoat can lead to hot spots and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

That lovely long coat is also the perfect hiding hole for a myriad of things they can collect out and about. Ticks will often wait at the end of a blade of grass and a large passing dog with long fur is the perfect host for them to bury into. Because of their double coat, you might not see any ticks straight away so make sure you give them a good rub down after any walks through the grass.

The same goes for grass seeds and pollen, double-coated breeds will always be more susceptible to collecting various grass seeds in their coat and once they’ve worked their way through to your pet’s undercoat, they can be harder to see and easier to bury into their skin. If a grass seed or piece of pollen starts working its way into your Retriever’s skin it can cause infections and become very uncomfortable.

What are hot spots?

Hot spots are a patch of skin that’s become inflamed or even infected. This can often begin from something as easy to overlook as increased scratching or an insect bite. The more your dog scratches, licks or rubs this skin, the larger and more inflamed it can become an even result in a sore or scab which can end up infected.

If something has aggravated your Goldies skin enough to cause a hot spot, it’s advisable you contact your vet. In the meantime, you must stop your dog (or any others in the house) licking or scratching it. Your vet will decide if the fur needs to be clipped to allow air to circulate, whether it just needs cleaning or if further treatment is needed.

How can I take care of my Golden Retrievers coat?

Golden Retrievers are very friendly dogs and love human contact. By making a brush with a good quality dog brush part of your daily routine, you can help keep their coat clean and healthy. If you’ve come back from a long walk in the spring and summer, give them a gentle massage, rubbing your

fingers through their coat, they’ll think they’re getting an extra special fuss whilst you’re checking nothing has worked its way into their coat.

If you notice any ticks make sure you’re using a proper tick remover to twist them out and never pull them out with a pair of tweezers. If you pull the tick’s body off but leave the teeth in your dog, they could still become infected. Twist the stick out, wrap it in some tissue and flush it down the toilet as they can still escape from a bin.

Bath time will depend on the season, where you live and your dog’s personality. If you’ve got a Retriever who never passes an opportunity to jump in the mud, swim in the water and generally get as messy as possible, you’ll need to make sure they’re properly rinsed down after a walk. Never use human shampoo or conditioner as this can damage your dog’s coat (or even be toxic to them) but remember, even dog shampoo will strip away natural oils they need to keep their coat healthy. If your Goldie has mucky legs or tummy, rinse them down with warm water and keep the shampoo for occasional use. Don’t forget that double coats will trap water and body heat so make sure they’re dried properly.

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