A dog’s skin is the largest organ in the body and can provide a good indication of your pet’s overall health. Dog skin conditions are the most noticeable (and among the most common) health problems found in dogs. Dog skin problems may range from acute, self-limiting ones to chronic ones that require lifelong treatment.
These dog skin conditions can get worse without proper treatment. Professional groomers, along with your veterinarian, can play an important role in both discovering and treating dog skin conditions. Groomers can help provide treatment with special baths and recommend products that provide positive results.
That depends on the problem but in many situations, it is beneficial for a dog with skin problems to be groomed. Your groomer can clip away hair from the area that is affected allowing it to dry and begin to heal. This makes it that much easier for the pet owner to show the veterinarian the issue and get any prescribed treatment.
There are many ways in which a dog’s skin can become damaged. The most common symptoms of dog skin disorders are inflammation and redness, lesions or scabs, constant chewing or licking of the affected area, swelling, lumps, dry, flaky, or irritated skin, hotspots, rashes, and bald spots.
There are a variety of dog skin conditions that your pet can have and it is very difficult to diagnose a specific condition based on the signs alone. It’s best to consult your vet to start the process of diagnosis and treatment.
SKIN PARASITES: These include mites, mange, lice, ticks, and fleas. These parasites cause inflammation, skin lesions, itchiness, and hair loss. Pets with flea allergies are specifically allergic to flea saliva.
SKIN INFECTIONS: One of the most common dog skin conditions is bacterial or yeast infections. Irritation, redness, swelling, and an unpleasant odor are often symptoms found with these infections.
SKIN and FOOD ALLERGIES: Some breeds are predisposed to developing allergies more than others. When exposed to allergens, your dog’s immune system produces antibodies which then cause inflammation and itchiness. Dogs are typically allergic to proteins such as beef, dairy, chicken, and egg. They will itch on the face, feet, ears, and around the anus. Some dogs may even have increased vomiting and several bowel movements.
SARCOPTIC MANGE: Also known as scabies, this is caused by infection from the sarcoptic mite. It causes severe itching, skin rash, hair loss, and inflammation. It is highly contagious and can be spread easily to other dogs and is a zoonotic disease meaning it is transmissible from pets to people
RINGWORM: A ringworm, despite its name, is caused by a fungal infection. This is highly contagious and can spread to other pets and even humans. Ringworm lesions are circular and appear in bald crusty patches.
DANDRUFF: Just like people, dogs can get dandruff. Dandruff is caused by skin irritation or dry skin. As the coat is being shed and replaced, the skin will require protein.
AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS: If your dog’s skin problems just won’t heal, the cause is likely an immune disorder. This happens when your dog’s immune system attacks its own cells. An example of this disorder is canine lupus, manifested in skin lesions with severe ulcerations and crusting.
SKIN PARASITES: Skin parasites are treated with flea prevention products as well as by treating the surrounding environment (keeping the pet bedding clean or changing it altogether).
SKIN INFECTIONS: Depending on the area of the body and the scope of the infection, topical treatments, and medicated shampoos can often be used if the problem is found early. Your vet may prescribe an antifungal, ear drops, or in some cases an oral treatment.
SKIN or FOOD ALLERGIES: Dog skin allergies are a complication because your dog can suffer from several types. To treat this, your vet will have to pinpoint the type of skin infection and treat it accordingly. For food allergies, your dog will need to be exclusively fed a special diet for eight to twelve weeks. This is called a food elimination trial. Your veterinarian may recommend a hydrolyzed diet or proteins that your dog is not allergic to.
SARCOPTIC MANGE: Veterinarians use anti-parasite medications and topical therapy to treat sarcoptic mange.
RINGWORM: Depending on the severity of the infection, ringworm is treated both by medicated shampoo and oral medications.
DANDRUFF: As your dog’s coat is being shed and replaced, the skin will require protein. Your dog will have to be fed a diet that contains the proper types of protein essential to healthy skin and coat. Your vet will most likely require a diet high in omega 3 and 6, as well as fatty acids, B group vitamins, and minerals.
AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS: Autoimmune disorders will require specific treatment. Your veterinarian will be able to dispense treatment only after a proper diagnosis.
Healthy dogs seldom develop skin problems. Soon as you spot anything amiss with your pet’s coat, visit a veterinarian immediately. Only a veterinarian can make the proper medicinal and nutritional recommendations for dog skin problems.
Shaggy to Chic Boutique is a full-service grooming parlor located in West Des Moines. We provide grooming and nail trims, and offer a wide variety of pet food, treats, and supplies. Be sure and ask about our Pup Cakes.