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Common Skin Problems for Dogs


Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Under all that fur, our furry friends have skin, just like us.

Skin problems are one of the most common ailments dogs can suffer, with a wide range of causes, conditions, and treatments.

These skin problems can range from mild to severe, with some being contagious to other animals as well as humans.

Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Below are some of the most common canine skin issues, their symptoms, and how to treat them. 


Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Allergies

Signs & Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Dogs

Red, irritated or flakey skin.

Scooting or rubbing on surfaces. Sores. Hair loss.

Professional Treatments for Dog Skin Allergies May Include:
Fatty acid supplements
Specialized diet plans

Foods to Avoid for Dogs with Skin Allergies
Beef, corn, dairy, and wheat are some of the most problematic ingredients.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it can take a long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent.

Often dog’s appear to ‘suddenly’ become allergic to a food that they have been eating for months.


Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Eczema

Eczema comes and goes over time.

It results in very dry and sensitive skin, and can be made worse by exposure to many different things, including allergens such as pet dander or dust mites.

Other common triggers include cosmetics, soaps, detergents and lotions with heavy fragrances.

Signs & Symptoms of Eczema on Dogs
Dry, cracked skin
Itchiness (pruritus)
Rash on swollen skin that varies in color depending on your skin color
Small, raised bumps, on brown or Black skin
Oozing and crusting
Thickened skin
Darkening of the skin around the eyes

Best Treatments for Eczema on Dogs
There’s no cure, but many children find their symptoms naturally improve as they get older.

The main treatments for atopic eczema are: emollients (moisturizers) – used every day to stop the skin becoming dry.

Topical corticosteroids – creams and ointments used to reduce swelling and redness during flare-ups.

Raw, sensitive skin from scratching

Foods to Avoid for Eczema on Dogs
Inflammatory foods can trigger an increase in symptoms.

Added artificial sugars, trans-fats, processed meat, red meat, refined carbs, and dairy all cause inflammation in the body. Foods containing nickel.

Nickel is an ingredient known to encourage symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema.


Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Dry Skin

The two main metabolic diseases associated with dry skin on dogs are Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism.

In both cases, dry skin is often accompanied by dry and brittle hair, hair loss, and skin infections, among other symptoms.

Auto-immune diseases and cancer can also cause dry skin on dogs.

Not all dogs with dry skin will show the same symptoms. This is because the condition can be caused by various factors, including environmental conditions, allergies, or a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet.

Signs & Symptoms of Dry Skin on Dogs
Symptoms of dry skin can also vary from dog to dog, based on factors such as age, breed, and overall health.

However, there are several common signs of dry skin in dogs. Here are a few to look out for:
Hair loss
Increased Oiliness

Best Treatments for Dry Skin on Dogs
First, make sure your dog’s shampoo is gentle and moisturizing (human shampoo is at the wrong pH), then follow up with a conditioner.

After the shampoo, don’t blow dry your pet’s coat.

Even cool blow dryers will dry out the coat.

Toweling down and blotting to absorb the majority of the moisture will be effective enough and your pet will naturally take care of the rest.

Make sure your dog’s food is nutritionally balanced.

Most packaged pet food from pet stores is nutritionally balanced for dogs, but look for the AAFCO symbol on the back of pet food to be sure.

Consider supplementing your pet’s diet with products like fish oil and probiotics to improve the coat and skin condition.

Adding a little moist food and supplying abundant fresh water will also increase your pet’s hydration intake and add moisture to the skin.


Common Skin Problems for Dogs – Dermatitis

Just like their humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to food and environmental factors that result in inflammation and infection, called dermatitis.

Environmental irritants can include tree and grass pollen, dust, mold, cat dander, mites, and more.

Known as atopic dermatitis (atopy), symptoms of environmental allergies can include redness, an itchy rash (particularly on the face, feet, chest, and stomach), rhinitis (inflammation in the nose similar to hay fever), and secondary bacterial and fungal skin and ear infections.

Symptoms of Dermatitis on Dogs
Excessive scratching
Rubbing on the carpet
Hair loss
Greasy or flaky skin with an odour
Chewing their paws
Saliva staining (red/brown staining on the fur where your dog has been licking)
Redness of ear flaps, sometimes with dark waxy discharge

Best Treatments for Dermatitismon on Dogs
Medicated baths with a shampoo made specifically for dogs with dermatitis
Flea Prevention/Control
Hypoallergenic diets
Antibiotics and Anti-fungals (to treat secondary skin infections if found)

Foods to Avoid with Atopic Dermatitis on Dogs
Food allergies usually occur after consumption of a particular ingredient or compound of the food, not the product itself, the most common being veal, chicken, dairy, egg or wheat proteins


Common Skin Problems for Dogs- Hot Spots – Fleas & Ticks

Parasites are organisms that live off of other organisms, often causing harm to their hosts.

Because their bodies are covered in fur, dogs unfortunately make ideal hosts for these parasites.

Fleas are a parasite known to infest and bite dogs, causing your dog to itch profusely.

If left untreated, this can lead to bleeding and hair loss.

Fleas can infest homes and bite people as well, making them highly contagious for both pets and pet parents.

Ticks are much larger than fleas and mites, making them more easily visible to the naked eye – though they can still be hard to spot.

Ticks do not infest in the way that smaller parasites do, but many of them carry harmful diseases that can be passed to both dogs and humans through bites.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know if your pup has had a tick bite until they show signs of a tick-borne disease, such as fever, lameness and lethargy, swelling around the joints, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The soft, warm fur of dogs and cats provides the perfect environment for fleas and ticks. These insects feed on your pet’s blood and can cause health problems ranging from allergic reactions to serious tick-borne illnesses.

Both fleas and ticks are more common during the warmer months, but you can take steps to ward them off any time of year.

Common Symptoms of Fleas on Dogs Include
Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat (small dark “grains of sand”)
Flea eggs (tiny, white grains)
Allergic dermatitis
Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
Hair loss
Scabs and hot spots
Pale gums

Best Treatments for Fleas & Ticks on Dogs
Many years ago, flea collars, sprays, powders and shampoos were used for flea control.

These products are more toxic and less effective than the majority of products we now recommend.

For this reason, we do not recommend any of these products.

However, medicated shampoos can be very helpful in treating the secondary skin infections that your dog may have developed due to flea infestation.

Oral Tablets: These are a great choice for both prevention and treatment of fleas and ticks, while being safe for both your dog and your family. Oral tablets that treat fleas and ticks can only be obtained from your veterinarian

Spot-On Flea Treatments: There are many different spot-on flea treatments with varying effectiveness and different spectrums of use. At your next veterinary appointment we will help you choose the most effective spot-on flea and tick treatment for your dog

Tick Collars: Tick collars are occasionally recommended based on your dog’s lifestyle

Foods to Avoid Ticks on Dogs
Supplement your dogs diet with garlic and apple cider vinegar as they both make your dogs less appealing to ticks.

Add two tablespoons of ACV to their food or water per day.


Common Skin Problems for Dogs- Hot Spots

Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots are localized areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection.

Often a hot spot will begin as a small red area that owners may mistake for an insect bite.

Unlike an insect bite, a hot spot will rapidly worsen and spread, developing into a hot, red, oozing, and painful lesion.

Signs & Symptoms of HotSpots on Dogs
Hot spots are often triggered by scratching, licking, or chewing the affected area.

The resulting trauma to the skin causes inflammation and secondary bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, this self-trauma only makes the area itchier, which causes a self-perpetuating cycle of itching and scratching.

Thus, any condition that causes your dog to feel itchy has the potential to result in a hot spot.

Common causes of the itching/scratching cycle in dogs include:

Flea allergy dermatitis
Food allergies
Atopic dermatitis
Ear or skin infections
Anal sac disease
Contact irritants

Stress or boredom resulting in excessive licking
Coat that is dirty or matted
Moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing

The first stage of a hot spot causes the skin to be red, moist and itchy. As the infection sets in, you may see pus oozing from the area.

As it continues to get worse, you may see dried pus and a damaged skin surface.

Thus creating a crust and they will likely start losing fur on the infected area

Best Treatments for Hot Spots on Dogs
Treatment of hot spots typically involves some combination of the following:
Clipping the hair around the area to prevent matting.
Cleaning the affected area with gentle antiseptic solutions such as chlorhexidine.
Bathing with a chlorhexidine shampoo for dogs.
Prescribing topical or oral antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.
Prescribing topical or oral steroids to control inflammation and decrease itching.
Prescribing allergy medications that stop the underlying cause of itching.
Using medicated wipes or solutions to gently clean the area daily.
Applying an Elizabethan collar (e-collar or “cone”) to prevent continued scratching.

Best Diet for Dogs to Avoid Hot Spots
Research shows that dogs who consume a higher ratio of grains to animal proteins in their diets have an increased chance of suffering from skin lesions.

Dry commercial or canned foods can dehydrate the skin leading to hot spots.

It’s been found that a raw diet is good. If that is not possible, feeding as much fresh cooked foods as possible is a course of action too.

Feed a healthy, natural diet high in omega fatty acids.

A well-balanced diet will help your pet maintain a healthy skin and coat.

A fish-based food chock-full of essential fatty acids that promote skin health.

For example, grain-free, sardine and salmon-based food with a fish oil supplement.

Now you’re healing your pet’s skin from the inside out.

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