My name is Marienna, and after years of toying with the idea, I decided that blogging was the perfect creative outlet to blend my interests as occasional writer, frequent photographer, dedicated veterinarian, and 24/7 dog owner. It is rewarding to share my expertise with loyal animal lovers. This is my first post 🙂
This specific topic arose from one of my pets, RORA, showing symptoms several dogs display. When you see animals on a daily basis, you begin to develop a keen eye, and notice when something is amiss. My pup began to feel dry and have less vibrant skin color and fur, naturally drawing my concern. Having cared for hundreds of dogs on my watch, I instantly knew the problem was hyperkeratosis.
What Is Hyperkeratosis?
Without getting overly technical with my veterinary speak, hyperkeratosis is, at its core, a skin condition. More specifically it refers to the outer layer on various parts of our body that is known as keratin. Keratin is essentially a protein that serves as a shield against cuts, scrapes, and even the outside elements. While it is hugely important to our well being, it can become problematic in more cases than you might expect.
Though the anatomy of a human and a dog vary greatly, hyperkeratosis is not only prevalent in dogs, in some cases it can be worse than that of their owners. It is a common issue that is overlooked because a dog licking their nose can actually cover up the damage it causes momentarily. Almost every dog experiences hyperkeratosis, but so few people understand how harmful it is. Since the keratin levels are compromised, occasionally the skin will produce too many cells, and negatively disrupt the immune system.
What Causes It?
When anyone asks me about hyperkeratosis, I tell them the best way to explain it is if you go an extended period without sunscreen. As humans, our skin appears strong, but in reality weakens daily from outside exposure like sun rays and temperature. This includes what we walk on, which is why your feet burn after a day on a sandy beach. Skin deterioration kills literally thousands of people yearly, so it is a hugely important condition that merits care. Exposure dries out the keratin and pores in your skin, increasing the likelihood of infection. All of these scary components affect dogs as well.
Where Should You Look For This Condition On Dogs?
Anywhere you begin to notice dryness on a dog’s face, back or feet, you are likely witnessing the onset of a keratin related deficiency. You should especially be on the lookout in hotter climates with limited precipitation. Dogs have a natural moisture throughout their bodies that should maintain its consistency to always be healthy.
Why Is Preventing Hyperkeratosis Important?
While plenty of different forms of hyperkeratosis exist in dogs, luckily narrowing down which affliction you are dealing with is fairly easy. That said, it is something that left unchecked, will almost assuredly get worse. Senses are crucial to how we function every day, and they matter even more to dogs. A dog uses their sense of smell for simple things like food, but also sensing danger and acquainting themselves with other pets.
Snouts also trigger memories and grant dogs a sense of direction. Every one of these integral attributes is put in jeopardy by cracked, flaky noses. A wet snout typically signifies good health, and at worst, adequate hydration. When a dog nose is dry their ability to pick up a scent weakens. It is also harder to ward off infection. Cracked paws and damaged skin in general can occasionally be precursors to extremely serious ailments like cancer.
Where Does Hyperkeratosis Cause The Most Problems For Dogs?
An animal’s paws and nose are the two primary trouble spots relating to this condition. Both areas on a dog are highly susceptible, but interestingly for different reasons. Paws obviously do not routinely have exposure to the sun, instead having frequent contact with the ground. Hot surfaces, particularly pavement, dry feet dramatically and far more quickly than you would assume.
The other blogs also refers to affected pads as hairy feet. My dog RORA experienced a dried out nose and rough paws. You can tell as a pet owner when hyperkeratosis is getting out of control when your animals feel tough and coarse to the touch.
How Do You Beat The Condition?
I am a trial and error type of personality, and as such, personally attempted a minimum of ten treatments to stop hyperkeratosis in its tracks. The most effective (and cost efficient) remedy was Paws and Snout premium by happiestdog.com. The solution was a lifesaver for RORA for a multitude of reasons.
It was the most successful at trapping moisture on the snout and paws, and replenishing their exterior with vitamins and cooling properties. Most impressively, it serves as a year round remedy to guarantee damaged skin doesn’t return. It’s important to note that hyperkeratosis can and does still surface in cold weather, and even snow. Paws, for example, can crack due to extremely cold temperatures.
Moreover, salt on the ground will generate intense discomfort on tough pads. Paws and Snout by Happiest Dog reinvigorated the immune system, and protects noses and paws by sealing the positive ingredients inside the skin so healthy new cells grow. Remember, over the counter skin remedies for humans like Neosporin or sun block contain elements that are not pet friendly and will exacerbate the problem.
Someone suggests to put socks or booties on crusty paws until you get your hands on a balm. It is essential to battle hyperkeratosis all 12 months of the year.
Personally, I love being a vet, but the most rewarding aspect of my job is to share with people dog issues they can solve at home. My hard work pays off when I know my knowledge has been used to make your pups healthy and the most jovial they’ve ever been.