1. Skin Allergies
Common environmental allergens are pollen and dust mites.
When running around in long grass the seeds can lead to irritation on a whippet’s chest, under arm and legs, resulting in sore infected spots. This is usually seasonal, spring and summer time. It can be tricky to identify but keeping a note of when the spots appear – eg, after a walk in long grass on a sunny evening – will help with a diagnosis.
We have used natural skin balms developed for dogs with great effect – ingredients like Calendula soothe the itch and bring down inflammation.
Wearing a tee shirt can be a good solution to this problem, preventing the seeds from contacting the skin, and stopping the urge to lick the irritation once there. A long leg Tee made from cotton will give extra protection in the under front leg area.
Tip: It’s important to give your dog some time off from wearing a tee shirt, even if they like the comfort and seem happy to wear it! letting the air get to the sore skin will help to move the healing process along.
2. Fleas and Tick Bites
It’s important to keep your whippet flea and tick free as both can have unpleasant consequences for our dogs. There are alternatives to the chemical spot on dog treatments which are worth considering.
Prevention of flea and tick bites is key. If your whippet has healthy gut health, their natural immunity will be higher and they will be less susceptible to these pests. We use a Garlic and Fenugreek supplement year round for George and Winnie and it works. Just one table daily in their dinner. Citronella, Rosemary and Lemongrass are all flea and tick repellents – often found in good dog shampoos and you can pop a few drops of essential oil onto a bandana or tee shirt to repel them too.
Tip – if your walks are close to where sheep graze, be vigilant about ticks. They appear as a dark spot and are easily seen on a whippet. A tick fork can be used to remove a small tick but if it has got a hold and you see any bruising or swelling, best to visit the vets.
3. Food allergies or intolerances
Diet is the most important factor in dog health – just as it is in humans. Whippets thrive on a top quality diet of gently cooked food or raw prepared food. Neither is the cheapest option, but superior to feeding a highly processed diet.
Most food these days is grain free as ‘fillers’ such as wheat and barley – containing gluten - are common allergens. The trend for grain free dog food started around 20 years ago when it was popular with human diets, and pretty much every dog food is now grain free. Chicken is another food many whippets don’t tolerate. Food intolerance can be extreme and will usually need a vet and an extensive diary of food intake to diagnose and treat. Food intolerance can manifest in red, sore and itchy skin.
Tip: less processed is best and a diet of varied raw or gently cooked food will bring benefit to your dog for life.
We feed George and Winnie Butternut Box. They have a variety of flavours and all are grain free.
4. Thyroid Problems
If your whippet has dry skin and hair loss, with other signs such as bald patches, cold intolerance and fearfulness, it could be a condition known as Hypothyroidism – where the thyroid gland is not producing enough of the hormone thyroxin. This hormone facilitates the smooth transition of food to fuel. It’s easily diagnosed, often occurs between 4-6 years old and can be treated orally with a hormone replacement.
If you think your whippets skin problems might be Thyroid related let your vet assess and diagnose, it’s not a condition that will right itself without help and will need lifelong treatment.
Tip: Weight gain can be a sign of thyroid issues and it's fairly easy to spot in a whippet, keep an eye out and if a reduction in treats isn't working and there are other signs like lethargy, have a word with your vet.
5. Dry skin
If thyroid and other medical issues are ruled out, there are natural ways to relieve dry skin.
The addition of a fish oil supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids might help relieve dry skin.
This often occurs as your whippet gets older. Regular baths with a gentle shampoo containing soothing ingredients like aloe vera will keep the skin moisturised and nourished.
We love Wildwash products and they do a Hydrating shampoo with Manuka, Lavender and Aloe Vera.
Keepers Mix supplement from Dorwest Herbs contains Kelp Seaweed, an ingredient rich in iodine which will help with your whippets coat, promote shine and deepen pigmentation as well as encouraging fur re-growth. We use this daily.
Tip: use a rubber hand mitt to brush your whippet, this will be relaxing for them and help distribute natural oils through the coat.
Don't ignore the signs of your Whippet’s skin issues
The skin is more visible on a whippet than many long haired dogs so don’t ignore signs of skin issues – scratching, soreness or sudden rashes. Remember that diet is key and natural is best. Always seek veterinary advice if you’re worried about your Whippet.
Join our Redhounders Facebook group and be part of a supportive community.