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Hairless Pets: Do They Need Special Care?

Hairless Pets: Do They Need Special Care?

               Hairless pets are a bit of a curiosity. There are multiple breeds of hairless dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters and others.  The lack of fur is usually due to some genetic anomaly of the hair follicles, but most of these animals are now bred for this trait. Some, like the Chinese Crested or the “skinny pig” guinea pig have tufts of hair, while others like the Mexican Hairless (Xolo) dog have virtually no hair at all.

               These unique pets can be great choices for people with allergies, with the exception of hairless cats whose saliva still contains the Fel d1 protein that causes allergic reactions in people. They also tend to be quite friendly, though maybe they’re just seeking to share our body heat!

Hairless pets of all species have sensitive skin and often require special care.  Since they don’t have fur to insulate them, they can get cold easily and may need coats or warm habitats in winter. They are also sensitive to the sun and can be prone to sunburn and skin cancers, so if your hairless pet spends time outside (we’re talking about more than just a few minutes to go to the bathroom), he or she should be slathered with a pet friendly sunblock. Hairless pets other than dogs really should spend their time solely indoors and make sure small mammals are in a warm, draft-free environment.

Furless critters have sensitive skin and can have problems with being both too dry or too oily.  Hairless cats and dogs should be bathed every one to two weeks with lukewarm water, a mild shampoo and avoid vigorous scrubbing.  Hairless small mammals generally don’t require routine bathing but they may have dry skin.  Applying a gentle unscented lotion, mineral oil or coconut oil to dry patches will help keep the skin healthy. Of course, since they have no hair, there is no need to brush or groom them!  Hairless pets also tend to have high metabolisms so they may eat more food than their furred counterparts.

Hairless pets are a bit of a novelty, but if you’re willing to take the time for proper skin care they make wonderful companions.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.