Hair And Skin


The dog's hair and its condition is very important to his well-being. It serves as an insulator against both heat and cold. If the dog's hair is in poor condition—thin, patchy or dry—it cannot perform its function as insulator. Therefore, it's imperative that you keep your dog's hair in top condition. A fancy trim, while it may be stylish, is of no value to the dog if his hair is sparse and unthrifty, exposing him to cold or heat.

Normally, the dog sheds his hair twice a year, in the spring and fall. During shedding, the old hair is replaced with new.

Nature does this to keep the dog in a more or less standard coat, protecting him at all times. Excessive shedding of hair, caused by disease, parasites or faulty diet, defeats this purpose. The result is the dog is uncomfortable.

The dog's hair has another protective function besides serving as an insulator. When angry or aroused, the dog's hair "stands on end." This rising of the hair or feathers is a very common reaction in animals and birds. It's also found in certain reptiles. The puff adder snake, for instance, will puff up or elate when aroused. It's all done to scare or impress the enemy. Watch your dog the next time he's aroused or frightened. His reaction to being startled or sensing a strange person or animal is to growl and raise the hairs along his back. The reaction is controlled by many small muscles along the dog's back. Human beings sometimes experience a. similar reaction when faced with the unknown or eerie.


There is a wide variation in the color of the skin among dogs. Some dogs have pink skin, some dark and others mottled. But the color of the dog's skin has no bearing on its function.

The dog's skin can be visualized as a binder or wrapper to cover the skeleton, muscles, nerves, viscera, etc. It has more or less the same glands as human skin. But the dog's skin glands do not function the same as those of human beings. Take, for example, the dog's sweat glands. At one time we were told the dog perspired only through the pads of his feet and his tongue. He does use these outlets for cooling, but his skin also helps out. His sweat glands help to some extent, but not as much as those of human beings. Instead of regulating the internal body temperature—as our sweat glands do—the dog's cooling system regulates only his skin or surface temperature.

When heat builds up in the human body, the sweat glands

168 your dog's health go to work and cool the body by evaporating the perspiration given off by the sweat glands. Not so with the dog; he cools off by radiation, without any evaporation. Thus, only the surface of the dog's skin is cooled. This is a big reason why the dog often has difficulty adjusting to overly hot days. It's also a reason why dogs become heat-exhaustion victims when locked up in automobiles with little or no ventilation on a hot day. In a hot car, there is simply no place for the dog's heat to go—and without any evaporation, he is in trouble.

Dog skin has great powers of regeneration. It can quickly repair damage to tissues. Minor cuts, tears or abrasions usually heal with little trouble. The dog has an additional healing aid in his saliva. The saliva contains a "built-in" germicide. If the dog has an opportunity to lick his cuts or wounds, he speeds up the healing process. But there is always the possibility of infection and it's best to apply an antiseptic, especially to deep or large wounds.

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