With these 10 most common dogs skin issues, you will understand that canine skin conditions are one of the main causes of treatment in most clinics. Skin problems can cause your pet significant discomfort, from itching to soreness.
Dogs Skin Issues
Skin problems in dogs are more common during the warmer months when seasonal allergies and other allergic symptoms are more likely. It is important to pay attention to any skin conditions your dog is suffering from, as they may indicate an underlying condition that has not yet been diagnosed.
Dogs skin issues can grow from mild to severe skin conditions, many of which require professional treatment to keep them from getting worse. In fact, if a skin condition is left untreated for some time, it can often become more complex and significantly aggravated.
For example, an allergic reaction can lead to a secondary infection with bacteria, or a bacterial infection can also become infected with yeast. Some of the most common dogs skin issues include bacterial skin infections, environmental allergies, and parasite allergies.
To help you understand the spectrum of dog skin problems and identify the more obvious symptoms commonly associated with each problem, we’ve summarized the 10 most common dogs skin issues.
Symptoms of dogs skin issues
Itching is one of the most obvious symptoms if your dog has a skin condition, but without a full veterinary examination it is difficult to determine what exactly is irritating your dog.
While it is quite normal for a dog to scratch at times, just as a person may scratch their skin occasionally, frequent or prolonged itching is a telltale sign that something more serious is going on.
Dogs can relieve itching by rubbing their head on an object or scratching the irritated area with their paws. You can also see your dog licking their paws or other body parts to soothe irritated skin.
Other signs that indicate a problem with the skin condition include the following symptoms:
Check your pet regularly to identify any of these symptoms and pay attention to how and when your dog is reacting. You may notice that your pet itches especially after eating, at certain times of the year, or if you’ve recently done any household chores, all of this could indicate an underlying skin allergy or atopic dermatitis.
The more information you provide (by watching your pet for signs of irritation or allergic reactions), the better for the veterinarian to make a complete and accurate diagnosis of an allergy or skin infection.
The most common types of skin conditions in dogs
The most common types of skin conditions in dogs include contact allergies; bacterial infections; fungal infections and parasite allergies.
1. Environmental allergy
A sudden onset of itching – especially on the face, legs, chest, and abdomen – may indicate an environmental allergy that occurs when your dog comes in contact with the irritant.
This special type of allergy in dogs is called “atopy” and is similar to how people get hay fever, except that dogs show it on irritated and itchy skin rather than tearing and sneezing.
Some of the most common dog allergens are grass, dust mites, and pollen. We will do a blood test to determine if your pet has a reaction. Treating environmental allergies can sometimes be difficult, and in the most severe cases, shampoos, pills, and injections are required.
Several new medications have been developed over the years that have revolutionized allergen care, and at Animal Trust, we can offer a combination of treatments to help effectively relieve your pet’s symptoms.
2. Food allergies.
Increased itching, often affecting the face, feet, ears, and anus, is a sign of a potential dog food allergy. Dogs can develop food allergies due to the type of protein consumed in their diet, such as beef, eggs, chicken and dairy products, although some dogs are also allergic to wheat or even vegetables.
Like people with food intolerances, pets must go through an elimination diet for 8-12 weeks to rule out various causes of allergies. Your veterinarian will advise you step by step on this type of treatment and how best to carry it out.
It is imperative that you do not feed your dog any of the suspected allergens during the elimination process in order to get a clear result and ensure that the veterinarian can prescribe an effective treatment process.
Folliculitis means inflammation of the hair follicles and often occurs when your dog experiences another skin problem, such as scabies or allergies, as the hair follicles become infected with an underlying skin condition.
It appears on the body as sores, bumps and crusts on the skin. Your veterinarian will prescribe shampoos, oral antibiotics, and antibacterial ointments to treat and relieve the infection.
Puppies are more prone to impetigo, which can also indicate an underlying skin condition. As with any condition in young animals, specialist treatment is recommended as soon as you suspect something is wrong.
Impetigo lesions may appear on the dog’s belly as blisters that may burst and crust over. Dogs can be treated for impetigo with antibiotics or washing, and your veterinarian can run several tests to diagnose the problem.
Ringworm, despite its name, is not a worm, but a fungus that is highly contagious to other animals and humans. A fungal infection appears as round, crusty bald patches and is common on a dog’s head, legs, ears, and forelegs.
Your dog’s skin may also appear sore and red from where they irritated that area from scratching. If you notice any signs of irritation, be sure to see your veterinarian immediately, who can prescribe topical treatments to kill the fungus and prevent it from spreading.
6. Yeast infections.
Warm areas of your dog’s body attract yeast infections, which like to grow in hard-to-reach places, such as the ear canal between your dog’s toes, groin, and crotch. The skin may thicken, causing the dog to itch and bite the infected area.
Yeast infections can discolor the skin and have an unpleasant odor: topical creams, dish detergents, and tablets can help relieve symptoms and heal the infected area.
7. Ticks and fleas
Ticks and fleas infect your dog’s skin by biting and sucking its blood. Flea saliva enters the body and can cause an allergic reaction that irritates your pet’s skin, causing it to become severely itchy.
Pets that are severely allergic to parasites experience symptoms of sore red skin, itching often, and dogs can chew on their fur to relieve itching. In extreme conditions, their fur can fall out in spots.
Fleas are tiny parasites that can survive in our carpets and bedding, which is why it’s so important to regularly vacuum, wash your pet’s bedding and make sure they have modern preventative treatments to kill any insects.
Scabies is a serious skin condition caused by several types of mites that inhabit a dog’s coat and skin.
There are 2 main types of scabies: one caused by the demodex mite, “demodectic scabies”, typically affects dogs under one year of age, older dogs, or pets with a different underlying medical condition.
Sarcoptic mange caused by sarcoptes is severe itching and often first appears on the dog’s ears. Symptoms of scabies include hair loss on the face and legs, and severe itching and redness around the affected areas.
As with fleas and ticks, if your pet has scabies, wash the bedding with it and make sure other animals avoid contact with the pet. Scabies is diagnosed by a veterinarian who examines a skin sample under a microscope.
Treatment includes pills and special shampoos to kill ticks and relieve itching and inflammation – in fact, some of the flea and worm products that veterinarians prescribe can also protect against scabies.
Like humans, dogs can get dandruff or “crusting” and dry skin; this could be a sign of an underlying problem, such as an infection. Some dogs are prone to dry skin, especially in winter, and this may be influenced by their diet; High quality sources of protein, omega-3s and 6 fatty acids can help maintain coat health.
Simple cases of dandruff are usually easy to treat with shampoos, but your vet will want to check to see if there is anything underneath.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Unfortunately for our pets, open, hard sores on the skin that take too long to heal can indicate an immune disorder and are often seen around the nose, eyes, and paws.
Lupus can be very serious if left untreated, so it is very important for your pet’s health that your veterinarian understands the causes of any skin condition that does not improve.
Skin problems are one of the most common reasons dogs end up in the veterinarian.
A dog’s skin condition can have a variety of causes, from external parasites like fleas and ticks to allergies and serious endocrine diseases.
Although some dogs’ skin conditions can be treated at home, any skin deterioration or problem that lasts more than one or two weeks without improvement is a good reason to see your veterinarian.
Here are some of the telltale signs of common dog skin problems and their causes.
Common Signs of Skin Problems in Dogs
Find out what may be causing your dog’s skin condition and what you can do about it.
Rash (usually on the abdomen)
A rash (redness or irritation) can appear on any part of your dog’s skin, but it usually occurs on the belly. Common causes of abdominal rash in dogs:
Contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to contact with something annoying, such as poison ivy, fertilizer, or lawn chemicals.
If contact dermatitis is suspected, wash the affected skin to remove any irritant that may still be present. Here are some basic factors on how to stop your dog from pooping in a cage.
If the insect bite rash doesn’t bother your dog, no treatment is needed. The stains should disappear on their own.
For a rash caused by insect bites or allergies bothering your dog, take a cool bath with a dog shampoo that contains colloidal oatmeal. If the rash persists, see your veterinarian.
Crusts or crusts on the skin can be a major problem or occur after a brief appearance of a pustule (or pimple) and crusting. Scabs in dogs can be caused by:
Impetigo in a puppy
Ectoparasites (ticks and fleas)
Pyoderma (skin infection; wrinkled dog breeds may have skin fold pyoderma)
Treatment will vary, but it may include medicated shampoos or ointments, and possibly oral antibiotics or antiparasitic medications.
Red spots on a dog’s belly in late spring and early summer can be caused by black fly bites. These flat, red patches usually don’t bother dogs and may not be treated.
Black fly bites can be confused with ringworm spots, which require treatment with topical or oral antifungal agents.
Black fly bites appear suddenly, are accompanied by other bites, are confined to the abdomen and do not bother the dog.
Ringworm, on the other hand, may appear anywhere, may or may not irritate your dog, and usually starts in one area rather than several.
Small red bumps
The resulting red bumps can be caused by several reasons. If the bumps are smaller and include crusts, they could be caused by a bacterial or fungal skin infection called folliculitis. This is usually treated by your veterinarian with oral antibiotics and possibly medicated shampoos or ointments.
Big red bumps
If the bumps are larger and flatter, without crusting, it could be hives caused by an allergic reaction. They are usually treated with antihistamines and / or steroids. The swelling caused by an allergic reaction is usually not life-threatening, but it can obstruct the airway, so it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Redness / irritated skin
Along with itching, redness and irritation are often the most common signs of allergies in dogs. Identifying the cause of the allergic reaction, whether it be food, fleas or something in their environment, is the most effective way to treat irritated skin.
While the root cause is being investigated, and to give your dog temporary relief, you can use a mild dog oatmeal shampoo or an oatmeal bath to soothe and moisturize the skin.
A hot spot is a moist, irritated area of skin, usually covered with matted hair. Hot spots arise from excessive licking or chewing on an area. Excessive licking leads to bacteria getting on the injured skin, causing a hot spot.
Hot spots are more common in hot, humid climates and sometimes occur after the dog has been exposed to moisture while swimming or in muddy / rainy weather. They are also more common in dogs with a thick undercoat.
Uncomplicated hot spots can be treated by gently trimming the area to allow the skin to breathe and cleansing the area with diluted chlorhexidine solution. You can prevent hot spots by grooming and drying your dog after swimming or in the rain.
Dry / flaky skin
Flaking of your dog’s skin can be caused by more serious conditions, such as seborrhea, when the dog produces too much sebum, or heiletiellosis, a disease caused by a tick also known as “walking dandruff.”
But these flakes can also be a sign of dry skin. Providing your dog with quality food that is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is a good first step in maintaining healthy skin. If peeling continues, consult your veterinarian.
The two main causes of itchy skin are allergies and external parasites such as fleas and ticks.
Itching due to allergies usually affects a dog’s feet, armpits, side, ears, and groin. Mild allergies or itching can be treated with a soothing dog shampoo that contains oatmeal. Switching your dog to a diet for sensitive skin (which often contains fish as its main source of protein and is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) may also help.
Fleas are more likely to cause itching at the base of the tail, on the belly, and along the inner thighs. Itching caused by fleas and ticks (which cause sarcoptic mange) should be treated with medications specific to the type of parasite, such as flea medicine.
Hair loss / receding hairline
The causes of hair loss, excessive hair loss, or receding hairline in dogs are extremely varied, including:
Ectoparasites such as fleas and mange-mites (demodectic mange)
Pressure sores, which are most commonly seen in large breed dogs, cause hair loss in bony pressure areas such as the elbow.
Most causes of hair loss in dogs require a visit to the veterinarian to diagnose the cause. If you suspect pressure sores, making sure your large breed dog has a soft spot to lie down will help prevent pressure sores.
Ulcers that have no obvious cause or do not heal properly can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as cancer or another medical condition that is preventing proper healing. These areas should be kept clean and supervised by a veterinarian.
Dark spots or hyper-pigmentation may be secondary to chronic inflammation, in which case they may disappear (slowly) if the underlying condition is treated. Dark spots on dogs can also indicate a hormonal disorder or be a sign of skin damage from the sun, injury, or constant friction.
See your veterinarian to determine the cause of the dark spots.