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December 19

Dog Health Part 10: Skin Issues [2021 UPDATE]

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Introduction


Dog skin issues can lead to irritation, hair loss, discoloration, and significant discomforts in pets.

These conditions are more prevalent in warm and humid conditions than in winter. You may find your pup continually scratching or licking the skin to soothe it.

Never blame your pets for such bad habits. Instead, book an appointment with your veterinary doctor for immediate help.

You may also try out over the counter medications and Amazon pet products recommended by experts to resolve dog skin problems. 

Consider this write-up for an in-detailed explanation about various dog skin diseases and treatments.

 

How does a dog's skin look like under normal circumstances?

Under the standard scenario, dogs’ skin is healthy when pink or black (depending on their skin pigments and breed).

The coat should appear clean, shiny, and thick without any evidence of bald patches, pesky fleas, or broken hairs.

Though pets shed hair throughout the year, maximum molting occurs during the summer and autumn months.

 

The dog’s skin consists of several layers, including the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. Skin issues may develop either on the skin or on the coat of pets.

It is always better to treat skin diseases in mild, preliminary stages. In advanced conditions, irritations become worse and can even lead to severe complications.

You will find many outstanding pet skincare products, including shampoos, ointments, and lotions, in top-rated portals like Amazon.

 

Causes of dog skin issues

There are various causes of dog skin issues. 

It depends on the particular skin condition from which your pet is suffering currently.

Usually, skin allergies, bacterial and fungal infections, parasites, hormonal changes, and environmental factors are the primary culprits behind these issues.

 

Symptoms of dog skin issues

Identification of dog skin diseases is the first step towards a successful treatment. Have a look at some of the most prevalent dog skin issues’ symptoms for a quick diagnosis.

 

Alopecia

Alopecia or more commonly, dog hair loss is a common skin condition among many breeds.

It may result due to excessive licking and scratching of an itchy area on the epidermis.

Sometimes, ringworms (a fungal skin infection), hormonal imbalances, or parasite attacks (fleas, ticks, mites, or lice) may also cause abundant hair fall.

You may either notice a patchy thinning of hair or a defined hair loss in a localized spot.


It may remain associated with secondary skin lesions, like a papule, crusting, scabbing, or pustule. 


Regardless of the underlying factor, it is essential to visit a vet whenever you notice significant hair pattern changes.

 

Atopic dermatitis or Atopy

Similar to human beings, dogs may also get affected by environmental allergies or atopic dermatitis. It can be either an inhalant or contact allergy.

Molds, grasses, dust mites, pollens, and ragweed can cause dog skin allergies.

You may notice a sudden onset of itching on the pet’s face, ears, chest, stomach, or feet after a visit to the garden.

If the condition goes unchecked for a prolonged period, it may lead to discharge, lesion, hair loss, and darkening of the skin tone.

 

The method of acquiring dog skin allergies mimics ‘hay fever’ in human beings.

However, instead of profuse sneezing and watery eyes, dogs’ skin becomes irritated due to this skin issue.

The immune system of the dog release antibodies, which in turn causes excessive itchiness.

Pet parents may opt for a blood test to diagnose allergens before the appearance of symptoms since it is challenging to treat them.

 

West Highland White Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, and Wirehaired Fox Terriers are prone to allergic dermatitis.

 

Food allergies in dogs

Dogs are also prone to food allergies due to the consumption of specific food products. About 10 percent of all allergies in dogs account for food allergies.

The immune system of pets detects these food items as a threat and triggers a defense against them.

Usually, the protein present in beef, eggs, wheat, corn, soy, dairy products, and chicken act as allergens in food allergies.

 

Dogs experience increased itching on their face, ears, feet, and anus due to food allergies.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that there is a crucial difference between food allergies and food intolerances

The former usually results in skin irritation, while the latter may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

  

Hot spots

Hot spots are a type of acute moist dermatitis in dogs. It is also known as pyrotraumatic dermatitis.

Here, pets develop painful, red, and inflamed areas on the epidermis with an elevated temperature. 

You will find them hot on touching than the surrounding region. In some cases, pus or watery discharge may release from these spots with a foul odor.

 

Hot spots result from insect bites, excessive licking, and biting on the ears, chest, hip, or head. The size of hot spots may vary from a quarter to a grapefruit.

The hair may also fall off or chewed off from the affected region. If your pet baby is experiencing a hot spot, immediately seek medical help to treat the root cause.

The vet also cleans and bandages the area and prevent it from worsening.

 

Mange

Mange is a prevalent skin issue in dogs due to mite infections.

The tiny external parasites usually thrive on the skin and fur without causing any damages.

However, during the reproductive stage, mites may cause red patches on dog skin and intense itching.

Veterinarians diagnose two primary types of mange- sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange.

 

Sarcoptic mange

This infectious skin issue is also known as canine scabies

The skin disease not only transmits between dogs but can also infect human beings handling them. However, the parasites find it challenging to grow on the human skin.

Sarcoptes mites are the causal organisms of sarcoptic mange. In most cases, the itching first appears on the dog’s ears.

In the advanced stages, the infection spread to other parts of the body, and pets suffer from bald patches, sores, inflammation, dog scabs and hair loss.

 

Demodectic mange

Demodectic mange AKA red mange usually affects dogs below one year

It is a non-contagious type of skin infection due to mites' overgrowth on the dermal layer. 

Immunosuppressive medical conditions and adverse effects of medication can trigger demodectic mange.

Symptoms of this skin disorder include localized hair loss, scabs, and sores.


Veterinarians diagnose it by scraping the skin and examining the sample under a microscope.

 

Flea infection

Dogs often come in contact with fleas while playing in the woods and hiking along trails.

These parasites can transmit between animals.

So, pets can even pick them up at boarding kennels or dog parks.

Flea bites and dropping can trigger allergic reactions when the dog’s saliva comes in contact with the affected region. 

It leads to uncontrolled itching and irritation.

 

Pet parents should thoroughly inspect the dog’s body whenever it returns from an outdoor adventure.

Fleas usually attach themselves in the areas adjoining the base of ears and become visible as tiny brown dots.

It is better to pull the fur apart or run the hand along the pet’s skin while searching for fleas.

Even if you notice flea droppings (look like specks of black pepper) on the dog’s coat, consult a veterinarian for further advice.

 

Hives

Similar to human beings, dogs may also get infected with hives.

Here, pets experience round raised bumps associated with itchiness.

In this unique allergic condition, symptoms may even appear within half an hour of coming in contact with the allergen.

Numerous factors, including side-effects of topical applications, medications, and insect bites, can trigger hives in animals.

 

The raised bumps cause the hair to stand out on the pet’s coat.

You will also notice inflammation in other parts of the body, including the eyelids.

Though hives appear very fast after contact with the allergen, once the stimulant causing it gets removed, the symptoms also disappear within 24 hours.

 

Folliculitis

Folliculitis occurs when dogs’ hair follicles become inflamed.

It may also remain associated with other skin issues like mange or allergy. An underlying health issue may infect the hair follicles and trigger folliculitis.

Pets experience sores, scabs, and bumps all over the skin due to this skin disease.

 

Ringworm

Ringworm infection is a highly contagious skin issue among dogs.

Despite its name, ringworm does not fall in the insect category.

It is a fungal disease leading to circular, crusty bald patches on the dermis.

You often find them on the dog’s head, ears, legs, and paws.

The skin may even appear reddish and inflamed due to continuous scratching on the surface. It is essential to treat this condition immediately as it may spread to other pets in its contact.

Pet parents should also wash their hands with disinfectant after taking care of the ringworm-affected dogs.


 

Treatment of dog skin issues

Whenever your pet experiences any skin disease, do not hesitate to seek expert guidance from the vet.

Always remember that there can be an underlying condition behind these infections.

It is easy to eradicate them in the initial stages when they do not have any complications.

Detailed below are the prevalent treatment measures for dog skin diseases.

 

Treatment for alopecia

The treatment for alopecia depends on the underlying factor causing hair fall.

If poor nutrition or hormonal imbalances in the thyroid or adrenal gland cause hair fall, nutritional and hormonal supplements can help tackle the issue.

On the contrary, if fleas are responsible for this skin problem, you should eradicate the parasite in your house's vicinity.

Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics and pet shampoos for controlling them. 

 

Treatment for atopic dermatitis

Veterinarians detect atopic dermatitis in pets after gaining a complete history of symptoms and examining skin lesions' pattern.

He may also prescribe a blood or skin test for allergy.

After diagnosing the allergen, doctors prescribe steroid therapy (when the itching session is brief), shampoos, or oral antihistamines for controlling it.

 

Treatment for food allergies

Pet parents can control paw friends' food allergies by identifying the source and eliminating it from the diet.

Vets detect this condition through an elimination process. In this system, they ask pet parents to remove specific ingredients from the diet, one at a time, and note down the corresponding symptoms.

The entire process takes about 8-12 weeks to complete. 

During this period, dog owners should refrain from introducing any expected allergens to their pooch.

 

Treatment for hot spots

Doctors advise clipping the hair around the hot spot lesions to control the infection.

You should also clean the affected area with an antiseptic pet shampoo or soap.

It will help to reduce the eruption. However, if the pet shows secondary infection symptoms, vets may also prescribe oral antibiotics, antibiotic sprays, and topical antihistamines for eliminating it.

 

Treatment for mange

If your pet suffers from mange, clean the blankets, bedding, and collars of pets or replace them.

It will clear the mites from these objects and prevent re-infestation.

Doctors advise bi-weekly Ivermectin and Milbemycin group of compounds or benzoal peroxide shampoo for flushing out the mites from hair follicles in demodectic mange.

 

In sarcoptic mange, treatment involves the use of weekly Ivermectin treatment.

Since sarcoptic mange is a contagious infection, you should treat all your pets in the environment if any member gets detected with the condition.

 

Treatment for ringworms

There are two approaches to treating ringworms in dogs- topical therapy and systemic therapy.

The selection of the correct procedure depends on the symptoms and duration of dog skin problems.

In topical therapy, veterinarians prescribe antifungal creams, ointments, or shampoos on affected areas.

Shaving the hair from the ringworm sites helps in the hassle-free application of medications.

 

In systemic therapy, doctors advise oral antifungal medications like griseofulvin, itraconazole, or terbinafine-based compounds for eliminating symptoms.

It is crucial to complete the entire course of medicine, as stopping them mid-way can recur the ringworms. 

 

Conclusion

These were the symptoms and treatments for some widespread dog skin diseases.

If your pet baby is showing signs of skin issues, immediately book an appointment with a veterinarian.

I'll also want to recommend Amazon items for dog skin issues as they have high-quality raw materials and go through a range of quality tests.


about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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