Different dog skin conditions and problems are among the most common reason for dog parents paying a visit to the vet.
Skin problems can cause a lot of discomfort, distress and even pain to the dog if left unmanaged. Plus, in some cases, a problem with the skin is a sign of a more serious underlying health issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Usually, the most common cause for skin irritations and problems in canines are allergies to foods, flea bites or environmental allergies. Parasite infestations, bacterial or yeast infections or other underlying health problems can also cause skin problems in dogs.
In order to treat the skin condition properly, you need to know how to recognize what the problem is, which is why it is always advisable to go to the vet for a proper diagnosis.
Rarely are skin conditions in dogs an emergency, but in order to alleviate the itching, pain or other discomforts of the dog, and so that you won’t be bothered by the incessant biting, licking or scratching, it is a good idea to go to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
There are more than 160 different types of skin disorders in dogs, some of which are acute and others are chronic.
Sometimes, finding the exact cause and disorder can be a challenging task, but thanks to the advancement of veterinary care, with patience and consistency, you and your vet should be able to work out the problem and find the best way to treat or manage the condition.
Read on to find out more about the most common dog skin conditions, what causes them, and how they are treated, prevented or managed.
What does normal and healthy dog skin look like?
Since all dogs are different, the skin of your dog is unique, just like its personality. But there are some general factors and characteristics which are typical of the skin of healthy dogs.
The skin shouldn’t have sores, itching, crusting, inflamed with hot spots, infected or have white or black spots.
The coat of the dog should be shiny, with no bald patches, fleas or dandruff.
Depending on the dog, the coat may shed all year round or may shed profusely only during the spring and fall shedding season. Some dogs are low-shedding, and may shed very little or do not shed at all.
The color of the skin of your dog depends on the dog breed or crossbreed, and it can be pink, black or have pigmentation depending on its genetics.
Your dog’s skin is unique, just like their personality, but there are lots of general things that should be the same for all dogs with healthy skin.
All dog parents are urged to inspect the skin and coat of their pup thoroughly at least once a week and to watch for any worrying signs such as insect or parasite bites and infestations, sores, rashes, hot spots, or others.
Anything out of the ordinary could be a sign that your dog has a skin problem which needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.
What are the symptoms of the most common dog skin conditions?
The best way to make sure that Fido’s skin and coat, as well as its ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and paws, are healthy, is to inspect them while brushing or grooming the dog, or at least once a week.
You should look for worrying signs such as:
- Excessive scratching, licking or biting on the paws, or any other part of the body
- The dog pulling out its fur
- A poor coat which is dull or has scales on it
- Redness, inflammation or discharge from one or both ears
- Dry skin
- Rashes on the skin
- Lumps or bumps
- Hair loss in patches or on the whole body
- Flea eggs, fleas or bites
- Tick bites
- Hot spots
- Other unusual symptoms on the skin or the coat
Remember that the more information about the symptoms you can discuss with your vet, the easier it will be for him or her to properly diagnose the underlying problem.
Curable and incurable dog skin conditions
While there are over 160 known skin conditions or diseases which can cause problems with the skin and coat of the dog, they can all be divided into two basic types of dog skin conditions – curable and incurable.
The vet will need to perform all the necessary tests and examinations in order to determine the exact condition causing the problem so that the proper therapy can be employed.
With curable conditions, it could take several weeks and up to a month for the healthy skin cells to mature and repair the skin. As for the incurable ones, most of them can be managed by diets, medicaments, topical treatments, shampoos, vitamin supplements, and fatty acids.
Managing a chronic skin disorder in dogs depends on the diagnosis, and the treatment may need monitoring and adjustment until the dog’s skin is back to normal and the dog is out of distress and doesn’t itch or hurt.
Some chronic skin conditions are curable, and others may need to be managed for the rest of the life of your pup.
As mentioned earlier, diagnosing some skin conditions in canines may be quite tricky because many times the symptoms of the different causes overlap. So, make sure you find a reliable vet who is ready to take matters seriously and explore each and every option until a proper diagnosis is made.
Curable chronic dog skin conditions
One of the most common reoccurring skin problems in dogs which can be cured is bacterial dermatitis. Its symptoms are circular patches without hair, covered in crusts and scales, and with small inflamed spots on the crust.
Vets can prescribe an antibiotic which is based on the results of sensitivity tests of the cultures from the skin. The treatment may continue from 8 to 12 weeks, but it will usually prevent the reoccurrence of the problem in the future.
Yeast infections (Malassezia) which are quite common in West Highland White Terriers and in Cocker Spaniels which cause smelly and greasy skin is also a curable chronic skin disease in canines.
So are seborrhea, fungal (ringworm) infections and alopecia or dermatitis caused by mites and fleas.
These conditions need to be properly treated and managed in order to prevent them from becoming incurable and chronic conditions which will continue affecting the health of your pup.
Incurable chronic dog skin conditions
Chronic skin problems which are incurable can turn into a nightmare both for the dog and for the dog parent. This is why, these need to be identified correctly by the veterinarian so that they can be managed as well as possible to prevent outbreaks.
Some of the incurable chronic health problems which affect the skin include hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease or other hormonal imbalances. Although these may not be curable, they can be managed with the appropriate medication and care.
Allergies in dogs too are not curable, but if the allergen is identified, it is possible to limit the contact of the dog to it, and thus prevent the allergic reactions which often affect the pup’s skin.
Unless it is causing serious discomfort to your dog, dry skin is usually not considered a serious dog skin condition.
In many cases, dry skin can be caused by your home environment, especially when the heating is on at a high temperature in the winter.
There are special moisturizers and shampoos which can help restore the moisture of the dog’s skin.
You can also use a humidifier in your home to make the environment more comfortable for your pup and healthier for you too, especially when the heating is on.
Pruritus – itchy Skin
Itchy skin is one of the most common symptoms of skin and health conditions in dogs and is one of the most common reasons for pet owners taking their dogs to the vet.
Persistent scratching can be bothersome both for the dog and for the dog parent.
Apart from being disturbed and miserable, the itchy skin and the scratching and biting associated with it can cause sores, lesions, hot spots, hair loss, traumas of the nails, teeth and the skin, which can lead to infections.
Since pruritus can be a symptom of a wide variety of underlying health problems, your vet will need to examine the dog, look into its medical history, take the environmental factors, the dog’s diet and do various tests to determine the exact cause.
Once the cause is determined, the itching as well as what causing it can be treated and managed.
Your dog could have itchy skin due to an allergen in the air, in its food, or anything it comes into direct contact with.
The allergen causing the distress for the animal and for you is treated as a foreign object and a threat by the dog’s immune system, which acts to fight it off, and which often causes vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and other adverse allergic reactions.
Determining the exact allergen causing the adverse reaction of the dog’s immune system is crucial in order to manage all of the symptoms of the dog’s allergy, including the skin problems.
This can be done through a series of tests, or via elimination diets, lifestyle changes, and others.
By eliminating or limiting the contact or exposure of the dog to the allergen, the symptoms can be alleviated and avoided altogether.
In some cases, when the complete elimination of the allergens is impossible – such as with allergies to pollen or dust, the vet may prescribe antihistamines, hydrocortisone, and other medicaments or topical treatments to control the adverse reactions, especially during the hay fever season.
Canine atopy – environmental allergies in dogs
Canine atopy is an environmental allergy which can cause adverse reactions including skin problems as a result of the dog inhaling a specific airborne allergen. Some of the common environmental allergens include pollen, mite dander, and dust, mold or certain fumes or smoke.
Canine atopy is usually seasonal and is more common among dogs aged up to 3 years.
The condition is usually genetic and can cause intense itching of the skin on the face, ears, feet, chest or abdomen of the dog. The skin irritation usually occurs suddenly, after the dog has inhaled the allergen.
The allergens causing these reactions are usually determined by the method of elimination, or by skin or blood tests for allergies.
Since completely eliminating the exposure of the dog to some common environmental allergens is impossible, especially during allergy season, your vet may prescribe special shampoos and washes, injections or tablets which will make life easier and better for the pup during hay season.
Food and drug allergies
If your dog has been scratching, biting or licking its feet, face, ears or anus incessantly, this could mean that it has a food allergy.
Dogs can develop or inherit allergies to just about any ingredient in their food. Some common food allergens in dogs are wheat, poultry, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, gluten or others.
The problem with food allergies in dogs is that determining the exact product causing the adverse reaction can be a timely process.
Your vet will probably advise you to put your dog on a limited ingredient diet, and then gradually start reintroducing new ingredients to the food one by one. Or do the reverse, and start removing one ingredient at a time from the regular diet of your dog and looking for improvement of the symptoms.
During this elimination diet, you should monitor the dog for any adverse reactions such as itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms, as well as for the improvement of the condition of the skin and the digestive problems.
You will need to be patient and persistent during those 8 to 12 weeks of the elimination diet, in order to find out the exact ingredient causing the allergic reactions.
Once the food causing the troubles for your pup is determined, it is very easy to prevent future allergic reactions by simply eliminating the ingredient in question from the dog’s diet altogether.
Food allergies in dogs are not the same as food intolerances. With food allergies, one of the most common symptoms is itchy skin, while food intolerance usually results in vomiting and diarrhea.
Thankfully, eliminating the allergen causing the skin problems of your dog is relatively easy, even if you don’t cook your dog food at home, since there is a wide variety of hypoallergenic foods and limited ingredient diet dog foods which can help you make sure that your dog is not eating the food causing the adverse reactions.
Dogs can suffer from contact allergies, which cause negative reactions of the body including skin irritation when they come into direct contact with a specific allergen.
Some common allergens which cause contact allergies in dogs include chlorine (from the swimming pool), certain flea or tick treatment products, shampoos, the bedding, and others.
It is essential to keep your pup away from the allergen, and in case of contact and an allergic reaction to rinse off the allergen with allergy relief shampoo or use the medication or topical treatment prescribed by your vet.
Hives are also a type of allergic reaction in dogs which look like raised itchy bumps on the skin. The hives can cause the coat on top to stick out. They can occur anywhere on the pup’s body and are often accompanied by swelling of the eyelids or face of the dog.
Hives usually appear very rapidly after contact or exposure to the allergen.
As with us humans, hives can appear suddenly as a result of certain medications, insect bites topical applications and others.
Usually, the hives will disappear within the next 24 hours.
The fact that hives appear so rapidly makes it pretty easy to pinpoint the exact allergen causing them.
The treatment of hives depends on the reason causing them. In some cases, the vet will prescribe the application of an antihistamine on them to sooth the itching and swelling.
It also helps to wash the dog or the affected area with allergy relief shampoo, and rinse it off completely so you get the allergen off.
You should be careful about hives appearing due to a specific dog shampoo or other product you use for grooming or parasite prevention and simply switch to another product.
Bacterial Skin Infections
Bacterial skin infections most commonly occur as complications to another skin condition. They can happen when the dog scratches and bites its skin so much that it damages it. An open wound or sore can easily become infected by bacteria.
Your vet will determine what type of bacteria is causing the infection and will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic to treat it.
Yeast infections can display themselves with constant scratching of the ear or biting of the toes. The other symptoms are discolored, thickened and irritated skin as well as a foul smell from the infected area.
Yeast infections usually occur in the ears of the dog, between the toes of its paws, on the groin or perineum.
They are generally pretty easy to diagnose and most of them respond well to treatment with topical medicaments. In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe oral medications, ear ointments or special medical baths to alleviate the symptoms and to resolve the yeast infection.
These infections usually happen on the warmer body parts, and when there is high humidity, but they can also be secondary reactions to allergies or other skin conditions.
Superficial bacterial folliculitis in canines is an infection and inflammation of the hair follicles which can cause scabs, bumps, and sores on the skin. These are usually easier to spot on dogs with shorter hair. In longer haired pups, the symptoms may include a dull coat with scaly skin underneath it.
Folliculitis usually occurs along with another skin or health problem such as allergy, mange or after an injury.
The treatment usually includes oral and topical antibiotics and shampoos.
Impetigo most commonly occurs in young puppies. The symptoms are puss filled blisters on the skin, which form a crust on top when they break.
These blisters are most common on the part of the abdomen without hair.
This condition is usually not serious and can be resolved with the application of a topical solution on the affected skin.
Only rarely is impetigo more persistent and can spread to other parts of the body.
Usually, impetigo is caused by another underlying health condition, so it is essential to get the pup to the vet so that the cause is identified and treated as well.
Seborrhea – dandruff
Just like with humans, seborrhea in dogs causes the skin to become greasy and to develop dandruff (scales). In some cases, seborrhea is a genetic condition with which the dog is born and which lasts through all of its life.
But more often, dogs can develop seborrhea as a complication from another health problem such as a hormonal disbalance, allergies or others.
Once again, it is essential that the vet finds the underlying cause for dandruff, so that the condition is treated or managed to prevent the reoccurrence of the seborrhea.
The skin itself can usually be treated with medicated shampoos.
Also, feeding the dog with foods rich in omega fatty acids, B vitamins and zinc or providing it with these supplements can help keep the skin and coat healthy and protected from allergic reactions and new occurrences of the problem.
Even though it may sound like it is caused by a worm, ringworm is actually caused by fungus.
The symptoms of ringworm in dogs are round patches of scaly and inflamed skin surrounded by hair loss.
Ringworm can affect any part of the body of your pup, but most commonly it is found on the head, ears, forelegs or paws.
It is highly contagious, and the fungal infection can spread from one puppy to another very easily. It can be contagious to humans as well. This is why it is imperative to contact your vet as soon as possible after noticing these symptoms.
There are various anti-fungal treatments which are very effective for killing the fungus and stopping the infection from spreading further or to other animals or people.
Shedding and Alopecia (hair loss)
Shedding differs among dogs. Some shed all year round, others shed only during the spring and fall, and there are some dogs which almost do not shed.
So what the normal shedding amount and pattern depend on the dog you have.
In some cases though, the pup may begin losing more hair than usual, and even develop entire patches without hair on its body.
Alopecia and excessive shedding can be due to poor nutrition, stress or to an underlying health problem of the dog.
In case you notice that your dog is shedding too much for over a week, or if you see any bald patches on its body, you should contact your vet.
A thorough veterinary examination needs to be performed to determine the reason for the alopecia in the dog. This can include a blood test, a skin scrape examination or others.
Some of the more common health reasons for alopecia in dogs include parasites, such as Demodex mites, ringworm, fleas, ticks, bacteria, or hormonal imbalances due to Cushing’s disease or thyroid disease.
Over-grooming a sore area such as a hurting arthritic joint can also cause hair loss in the area.
Anxiety is another reason why your dog may be losing its hair too.
In order to drop the hair loss, and help it grow back healthy and shiny, your vet should find and treat the underlying cause for the alopecia.
Treatment is assigned depending on the diagnosis. In some cases, flea control is recommended, in others – antibiotics may be prescribed.
Hormonal conditions and arthritis may need long-term medication and care.
In any case, treating what is causing the alopecia is the only way to stop it from spreading, and to ensure that the coat and skin health is restored.
Mange is a dog skin condition caused by microscopic mites. There are several types of mange in dogs, caused by different types of mange. Sarcoptic mange known as scabies is contagious and easily spreads from one dog to another, and even to humans, even without direct contact.
Thankfully, these mites cannot survive on human skin, so even if you do get infected, the parasite will die out on it’s own very soon.
The symptoms of scabies are intense itching, sores, hair loss, thickening of the skin, yellow crusts and red skin. The parasite most commonly infects the skin on the ears, legs, and face.
Demodectic mange (Demodicosis) is a rarer type of mange caused by an infestation of Demodex mites which inhabit the dog’s hair follicles normally. The dogs which are affected by an overpopulation of these mites are usually the ones with weak immune systems such as young puppies, senior dogs, or sick or neglected dogs. The symptoms are usually bald spots, sores and hair loss.
There are other types of mange in dogs including cheyletiellosis and notoedric mange (feline scabies)
The different types of mange are treated with different medications and topical treatments. Also, if there is an underlying condition which has weakened the immune system of the dog, this is addressed too.
The vet will prescribe oral and topical medications to soothe the itching, and also kill the mange. The dog may require weekly dips in special medicated solutions once a week until the infestation is resolved.
Fleas and flea bites can cause intense scratching, licking or biting, scabs, hot spots, and other skin irritations. These are especially intensive when the dog has a flea allergy.
Even though you may not see the fleas themselves, it is most likely that you will be able to spot the eggs and droppings of these parasites on the coat of your pup.
In severe infestations, the dog may suffer from extensive blood loss and anemia, and flea bites can even cause tapeworm or other parasite infections.
Treatment includes an oral and/or a topical flea killer, as well as thorough cleaning of the bedding, kennel, home or yard.
Thankfully there are topical and oral preventive products which will keep your dog protected from fleas, especially during the warmer months. You should make sure you keep up to date when giving or treating your pup with these products in order to prevent infestations and bites which can cause mild to severe skin and health problems.
If your dog has had an allergic reaction to a flea bit, your vet may prescribe topical or oral medication to treat the bite and the skin irritation. Usually, these are antihistamines or other anti-itch creams.
Remember that fleas can live on your carpeting, furniture and in the dog’s bedding, so if your dog has found to have fleas, you should take action to clean the home, yard and any affected area as well, to prevent the fleas from attacking your dog or other animals or you yourself too.
Just like fleas, ticks are parasites which feed on the blood of the dog or another host. Ticks are visible with a naked eye. In order to remove a tick from the dog’s skin, you should use tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull the parasite out.
If you twist it or tug it too hard, you can cause the head to remain stuck in the skin, which can cause an infection.
To get rid of the tick, place it in a jar with alcohol and dispose of it when it is dead.
Keep in mind that ticks can cause blood loss and anemia in dogs with severe infestations.
They also can infect the pup with Lyme disease or bacterial infection.
The best way to prevent tick bites is to use preventive tick control products. You may even speak to your vet about giving your pup a Lyme disease vaccine if you live in an area that has a lot of ticks.
Related: Puppy Shots Schedule: Vaccination Plan for Your Pup
Skin color or coat texture changes
If you notice that your dog’s skin color or the texture of its coat is changing, this could be an indicator of an underlying health problem, such as a hormone or metabolic disorder.
Such changes can also be symptoms of another skin disorder or an infection.
Your vet should be able to identify the underlying cause via a physical examination and a blood test.
Make sure you speak to your veterinarian if you notice any changes in the skin or coat of your pup so that any potential skin problems or other hidden health issues can be identified and treated as early as possible.
Your dog may have a dull coat due to a number of health problems, but often it is due to a poor diet, or a diet which doesn’t include enough omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil or other natural sources.
Omega 6 fatty acids help create a skin barrier which protects the skin from water loss and also keeps the skin cells healthy.
Both omega fatty acids help boost the health of the dog’s skin and coat and also help reduce inflammations.
If the food you give to your dog doesn’t contain enough omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, you can add supplements to it in order to ensure that Fido is getting enough of these good fatty acids and that it will have a gorgeous and healthy coat and skin.
Naturally, if the dullness of the coat is caused by another health problem, you and your vet should work on resolving it first in order to restore the shininess of the coat too.
Acral lick granuloma
This condition is also known as acral lick dermatitis and is caused by the incessant compulsive licking of a single area on the dog’s body. Usually, this occurs on the front of the pup’s leg.
The relentless licking of the same area can prevent it healing and can result in even more itching and pain which causes the dog to continue licking it.
This can lead to bacterial or fungal infections and is a very frustrating condition for both the pup and for the dog parent.
Acral lick granuloma can be treated by discouraging or preventing the dog from licking the affected area. This can be done by placing an Elizabethan collar (cone) on its neck, or by using a bad tasting solution to treat it.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream or ointment to help prevent infections and accelerate the healing.
In case you notice that your dog has developed a hard lump somewhere on its skin, you should speak to your vet as soon as possible.
Dogs can develop malignant skin tumor, which is why a biopsy, and eventually the complete removal of the tumor is most commonly recommended by veterinarians.
In case the tumor has not spread, then removing it will resolve the problem. If the cancerous tumor has spread in other parts of the pup’s body, you should speak with your vet for the most appropriate treatment for the dog as well as its prognosis.
Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis are small areas of red, hot to touch, inflamed and irritated skin on the body of the dog. They most commonly appear on the head, chest or hips of the pup.
They can be a result of a number of different conditions causing skin irritation, pain, trapped moisture under matted or thick hair, or can even be due to anxiety or pure boredom in dogs.
Since the hot spot is very itchy, the dog continuously licks, bites and scratches the area. As a result, the skin becomes damaged and a painful open wound appears. This sore can become infected very easily and can become very painful for the pup.
Usually, the skin on top of the hot spot will fall out, and the surrounding skin becomes matted and hard from the dried oozing fluid or puss.
It is essential for the hot spot to be treated by your vet or by you as soon as possible. Also, it is important to determine what has caused the hot spot in order to prevent it from reoccurring again.
Keeping the coat of the dog properly groomed or trimmed, especially in the summer can help reduce the risk of developing hot spots.
Also, drying the skin after a bath, swim or rain is will ensure that moisture doesn’t get trapped.
In case your dog is stressed, you should remove the stressor. If Fido is licking and biting and scratching himself out of boredom, make sure you keep him or her physically and mentally active with long walks, exercise, training, interactive games, puzzle toys or other ways to entertain the pup.
Although rarely, some skin lesions or certain infections which cannot seem to heal can be due to an immune disorder of the dog.
The best known such disorder is lupus. This is a disease which affects both people and dogs. It causes the immune system to attack its own cells. Some common symptoms of lupus include skin or kidney problems. Usually, the lesions of the skin are open, take longer to heal and form crusty skin. These are usually located around the nose, paws, and eyes of the pup.
Lupus needs to be treated, or it can be fatal.
Pemphigus is the name of a whole group of immune diseases which can affect canines. Some symptoms include ulcers and crusting of the skin, the formation of cyst and fluid-filled sacs, lesions full of pus, and others. The most typical symptom of this canine autoimmune disease is acantholysis which is a condition in which the skin cells separate and break down due to antibody deposits in between them.
Once again, the disease causes the body of the dog to attack itself. The varieties of pemphigus which can affect dogs are: foliaceus, erythrmatosis, vulgaris and vegetans
Foliaceus causes pustules, crusts, scales, ulcers and itching of the skin, footpad cracking and overgrowth, and others.
Erythematosus causes lesions, scales, itching, pustules, and ulcers which are usually on the face, head, and the footpads of the pup.
Vulgaris is the most serious of all pemphigus autoimmune disorders. It causes deeper ulcers, crusted skin, fever, depression, and itchy and painful skin. The disease affects the skin, gums, and lips and can spread to the entire body – with the groin and underarms most commonly being affected.
Vegetans also causes large patches of lesions and pustules.
Normally, a blood sample, a skin sample, and a biopsy will be required to identify the type of disease, and any bacteria infecting the skin.
The dog may need to be hospitalized in severe cases, and the vet may prescribe steroids to alleviate the condition.
Long term azathioprine and corticosteroid therapy may be prescribed along with a low-fat diet. Other medications may also be prescribed, and the dog will need to go on follow-up checkups to monitor the condition.
The sun usually worsens the condition, so you should keep your dog protected in order to keep the dog in remission.
Ichthyosis is an inherited condition which causes the skin to become thicker, and also develop oily scales and crusts. It appears at an early age and is not curable, so careful management of the condition is required for the rest of the life of the pup with such a genetic disease.
Anal Sac Disease
Anal sac disease occurs when the small sacs located beside the dog’s anus do not empty properly during defecation.
The dog will commonly scoot on its bottom and will lick or bite the anal area incessantly. Also, a foul smell is emitted when the anal sacs are full and inflated.
The vet could express the sacs manually, but in more severe cases, they will need to be removed.
Some preventive steps to protect your dog from skin problems
Although some of these conditions are hereditary and others cannot be prevented, many the dog skin conditions can be prevented.
Here are some tips on how to prevent some of the most common skin problems in canines:
- Feed your dog with a nutrient-rich, and omega 3 and 6 rich diets to keep the skin and coat healthy and to protect it from inflammations
- Always use dog shampoo when bathing your dog, and make sure you rinse it all off thoroughly when you are done
- Reduce the frequency of the baths if the skin of the dog is dry
- Dry the dog’s skin after a bath or swim, especially if it has a long or thick coat
- Use a humidifier at home when the heating is on to prevent the skin from becoming dry and itchy
- Groom the dog on a regular basis, and do not allow the hair to become matted in order to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris
- If your dog has skin fold, make sure you keep them clean and dry
- Monitor the condition of the dog’s eyes, ears, mouth, paws, groin, and anus regularly
- Keep the pup protected from fleas, ticks, and other parasites by providing it with the appropriate flea, tick, and parasite protection on a regular basis
- Inspect the skin of your dog for any telltale signs of a skin condition such as sores, redness, itchiness, bumps, lumps, rashes, inflammations, and others
- Keep the immune system of your dog strong by feeding it high-quality food and taking care of the biome and its gut flora with prebiotics and probiotics
- Avoid exposing your allergic dog to the allergen causing the adverse reaction
- Feed the dog a limited ingredient diet if you suspect it has an allergy to a certain ingredient
- Take action immediately if the dog is biting, scratching, or licking itself continuously and vigorously in order to prevent hot spots, bacterial infections, and further damage to its skin
- Use an Elizabethan collar or a T-shirt to restrain the dog and keep it from causing further damage to its skin
- If you live in a multiple pet household, make sure you quarantine the infected dog if it has a contagious infection or disease which can infect your other pets or you, but then again don’t make the dog feel isolated, alone, or left behind
- Check out the skin diseases which are more common for your dog’s breed, so you can keep an eye on them, and take action to prevent them
- Go on regular prophylactic checkups with your dog in order to ensure that it is healthy overall
- Keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated so it doesn’t resort to destructive and self-destructive behavior due to boredom
- If the dog is stressed or anxious, try to eliminate the stressor, and alleviate the condition
When is it time to see the vet for dog skin conditions
Rarely do dog skin conditions require emergency treatment, but it is still important to get your pup to the vet when the skin problem becomes apparent as is causing itching, pain, discomfort or distress to the animal.
Finding the underlying cause for the skin problem is crucial not only for treating it but also for the overall health of the dog, as well as for preventing of the reoccurrence of the skin issues.
Usually, when the condition is diagnosed correctly, the skin will respond to the treatment pretty quickly.
Going to the vet and insisting on a proper diagnosis is a must if your dog has reoccurring skin problems without an apparent reason.
If the pup has chronic dermatitis you may want to consult with a dermatologist as well as with your vet too.
The problem with dog skin conditions is that they can be hard to diagnose, but the good news is that if the diagnosis is right – they can get much better quite fast.
When you are preparing to go to the vet for your pup’s skin problems, remember to take note of what it has eaten, where it has been, what the other symptoms are, and whether it has been bathed, or in contact with a new setting, dog or person.
Every little detail could be helpful for the proper and faster diagnosis of the reason for the dog’s skin problems.
Be wary that the cortisone drugs which are commonly prescribed to treat skin problems in dogs, such as prednisolone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone, or long-acting injections can have an adverse effect on the health of the dog if used for too long, or in large doses.
Even though cortisones are excellent medicaments to alleviate the discomfort of the dog, they could mask or worsen the underlying cause of the problems.
Plus, too many corticosteroids can cause a hormonal disbalance like Cushing’s disease which can cause various other health problems for your pup.
Diagnosis of dog skin conditions
The precise diagnosis of the actual cause of the skin condition affecting your dog may not always be an easy and straightforward process.
It can require extensive physical examinations, different diagnostic tests, and lab work on the blood, skin samples, and urine and in some cases biopsies.
Usually, more than one day will be necessary for your vet to get to the solution for your pup’s condition.
The history and information which you can provide the vet can help him or her immensely to correctly identify the problem and to assign the suitable treatment to alleviate your dog’s condition.
Here is a typical list of skin disease history which you will probably be asked when you go to the vet:
- What is the main problem?
- How long has the problem persisted?
- At what age did the problem first start?
- What is the breed or crossbreed of your dog, and do other dogs from the litter have similar problems?
- What is the dog’s behavior? Is it scratching, biting, licking, rubbing, or chewing its skin?
- When did you notice that the problem began?
- How has it progressed since you first noticed it?
- When did new symptoms appear?
- In which season did the skin problem begin?
- On what part of the body was the problem first noticed?
- Has the dog had any previous treatments, and how did it respond to them?
- When was the last bath of the dog, and how often do you bathe it?
- What do you use for flea, tick, and other parasite prevention?
- Are the other dogs and pets with which the dog lives or has been in contact healthy?
- Have you been traveling with the dog in the last 6-12 months?
- Are there any other unusual symptoms such as a change in appetite, behavior, urination, energy levels, panting, and others?
As you can see, the causes of dog skin conditions can vary quite a lot. This is why you should contact a vet when you notice that your pup is being bothered by a condition affecting its skin or coat.
Finding the underlying reason for the scratching, biting, sores, rashes, bumps, lesions, hair loss and other problems affecting the skin of the dog will not only help alleviate its distress but in some cases may even save your pup’s life.
Make sure you take proper care to keep your furbaby healthy and its skin well, and if you notice any worrying signs, make sure you take note of all symptoms, and circumstances when the problems appeared, so you can make the diagnosis of the problem faster and easier.
Whatever the skin problem of your pup is, if you take proper care to get it diagnosed, and to treat or manage it, your and your dog’s life will be much happier!