By Dr. Becker
Hello! I’m back in my kitchen at home this morning with my senior Boston Terrier, Rosco. Rosco will soon be 15 years old. He’s deaf and can’t see very well anymore. He also has Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism.
Two Things That Don’t Age Well in People and Pets
To be completely honest, if pets and humans live long enough, two things on their bodies turn pretty gross -- fingernails/toenails, and skin. It’s just a fact of life.
Even though Rosco has been a raw fed dog since we rescued him at about a year of age, and his dietary fatty acid profile is perfect, both the Cushing’s and hypothyroidism affect the health of his skin. But beyond that, Rosco is simply an old man, so his skin is flaky, and he also has age-related alopecia, which causes bald spots on his body. He has several thick, crusty spots that recur on his skin and make him a little itchy.
How I Treat Rosco’s 'Old Man' Skin and Nail Issues
In addition to bathing Rosco regularly to prevent any sort of skin infection (he gets a bath about once a week, which is more frequently than my other dogs), I’ve discovered that doing a coconut oil treatment on his skin is also very beneficial.
The treatments help reduce flaking and improve the integrity of his skin. They also support the lipid barrier, which makes his skin healthier and more resistant to pathogens like yeast and opportunistic bacteria.
(Please pardon my parrot who has decided to chime in from another room!)
I decided to film Rosco’s coconut oil treatment this morning and share it with everyone here at Mercola Healthy Pets. I hope it comes in handy for those of you who also have a four-legged family member who could benefit from the treatment.
Rosco’s Coconut Oil Skin Treatment, Step-by-Step
I’ve already bathed Rosco – it’s important to do coconut oil treatments on clean skin. I use 100 percent organic, cold-pressed, human grade coconut oil, which I buy by the half-gallon tub because I use a lot of it.
As you can see, Rosco likes to lick the oil while I’m doing his treatment!
So I’m going to apply the coconut oil to his body like a mask. Those of you familiar with coconut oil know that below a certain temperature it’s solid, and at warmer temps it becomes liquid. Right now at my house, it’s kind of half-and-half.
I’m scooping out the coconut oil and applying it everywhere – from the tips of Rosco’s ears right down to his toenails, which are flaky. He has one dystrophic nail, which means it’s thick and curled under. I’ve cultured the nail to check for fungus and there is none, but the nail is still kind of scary-looking and it irritates him. So I apply coconut oil to that nail in particular.
When I do this treatment with Rosco, he thinks I’ve turned him into a big sucker. He loves to lick himself during his treatment!
Now, I’m applying coconut oil to Rosco’s front legs and chest and his unhealthy nail which you can see right here. I handle the nail very gently because Rosco doesn’t like to have it touched.
This treatment not only keeps his skin soft, but also does a great job improving the natural defenses of the skin. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a fabulous immune builder, both orally and topically.
For whatever reason, Rosco’s armpits are excessively flaky, so I make sure I do a good job getting plenty of coconut oil under there. We spend just a few minutes – about five minutes -- letting the coconut oil absorb into Rosco’s skin. I do one more bath after the five minutes is up, and a very light rinse. I don’t lather him up too much. I just don’t want him to be greasy, so I remove the excess oils with a light application of shampoo and another quick rinse.
The treatment leaves Rosco’s skin not only incredibly soft, but also in a healthier condition. I do a coconut oil skin treatment on him about once a week and it has made a big difference in the health of Rosco’s skin and nails.