If I have one pet peeve, it’s a furry friend that scratches and licks itself all night. Unfortunately, it’s not always their fault when skin conditions strike. When your dog’s scratching instinct is in full force, it may be because they have a skin problem. Smelly sores, bald patches, skin flakes, or pus are sure signs that your doggy needs a vet checkup and an immune boost.
Several illnesses or health issues can cause dog skin problems, which we will unpack below. Many times though, a vet will need to take a closer look at causative diseases that could be creating problems on the skin’s surface.
Different Skin Problems in Dogs
Getting to the bottom of your dog’s skin problem is something best left for the veterinarian to diagnose. However, it’s good for pet owners to understand common skin problems. Here is a guide to the most common conditions. Whether your vet has diagnosed your pet or not, it’s best to get your dog to their checkup so the experts can advise on an effective treatment plan.
Atopic Dermatitis, or Allergic Dermatitis, is when the skin flares up due to an allergic reaction, causing it to be dry, patchy, and red. Just like humans, companion animals can be allergic to several things.
Fleas are pesky creatures. Flea saliva, which is left on your dog’s skin following a bite, is what causes an allergic reaction in your pup. You may notice fleas or flea droppings on your pet, as well as symptoms of hot spots, itchy and red skin, and a rash. Not all dogs react to flea bites in this way, but it’s best to always keep your dog up to date on their parasite prevention treatments.
Seasonal or Environmental Allergy
If your nose starts getting blocked or runny during the change of seasons, you may expect a similar reaction in your pet. However, seasonal irritants like pollen, grass, dust mites, molds, or specific plants will not trigger the same sinus congestion in your pet. Instead, your doggo will get a rash, raise blisters, and show symptoms of itchiness.
During winter, antifreeze chemicals on the walkways can cause skin reactions in pets. In the summertime, lawn fertilizer, or plants like poison ivy, may disagree with your pet’s outdoor explorations. In that case, contact dermatitis can be a problem for your pet. It’s important to identify the allergen so that you can eliminate your pet’s exposure.
A dog food allergy can develop out of the blue, and even if your dog has been on the same healthy diet their whole life, they can still develop a sudden allergic reaction. Good dog food brands will avoid common allergens, but it may take a process to discover what your dog’s food allergen is. Food allergies can cause skin irritations, GI issues, and stomach upset, like vomiting or diarrhea.
Many bothersome skin infections can harm your pet.
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of yeast bacteria in the skin’s healthy flora. Yeast infections can range from mild to severe and are not easily remedied. A yeast infection is a secondary condition to other health concerns. When your doggy’s immune system is low, excessive yeast can take control and cause dog skin problems.
Yeast infections affect all areas of the skin, leaving sites discolored, inflamed, and smelly. The location of infection can also be found in the ear, leading to further complications.
Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can also spread to humans. If you suspect that your dog has ringworm, wash your hands or wear surgical gloves when touching the infected area.
Signs of ringworm include hair loss, redness, and scaling on the infected site. When your dog or cat has ringworm, then a fungus called dermatophytes invades the hair shaft.
Folliculitis or Impetigo are bacterial infections.
- Folliculitis causes bumps, sores, and scabs on the skin. Many cases of Folliculitis require the treatment of antibiotics, as well as treatment for other skin disorders.
- Impetigo is common in the early stages of a dog’s life and is identified by pus-filled blisters. The condition can quickly spread, so seek treatment as soon as you see blisters arise.
Seborrhea is a common skin disease that causes a dog’s skin to become greasy, dry, and dandruff-ridden. The reason is that the oil glands (the sebaceous) overproduce oil, triggering bacteria and yeast growth that leads to dermatitis and oily skin. The skin will often have a strong odor due to the infection.
Sadly, this disease is genetic and can affect a puppy and progress throughout its lifetime. Sometimes the skin condition is idiopathic, meaning it has an unknown cause.
Seborrhea is a secondary condition caused by endocrine, dietary, malabsorption, or autoimmune disorders. Treatment for this chronic skin condition involves managing skin symptoms and avoiding skin infections. A vet will also have to determine if there is a causative condition.
Shedding and Hair Loss
Most pets shed hair. If you’re accustomed to the seasonal fur balls blowing around your home, or the resurfacing of your pet’s favorite spot on the carpet, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. But when hair loss is excessive, or your pet is starting to show bald patches, then a skin issue may be the culprit.
Canine Scabies or Mange
Mange infestations are placed in two different categories.
- Sarcoptic Mange, also known as scabies, is an infection of the skin by a parasitic mite. It’s a highly contagious skin condition that will spread from one site to another on the canine body, causing the pet to be extremely itchy. Hair loss and scaly skin are common symptoms of mange.
- Demodectic Mange is identified by an overgrowth of mites. It often affects dogs with immune disorders or if your pet is already ill and their immune system is low. Mange can also present in young dogs with underdeveloped immune systems with hair loss as the main symptom. Demodectic Mange is not contagious.
Alopecia is a skin disease with a few nicknames: Black Skin Disease, Adult-Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency, Adrenal Hyperplasia-like Syndrome, and more. The reason for the many terms is that the uncommon skin condition has no definite cause.
Dr. Mark Macina from NYC’s Animal Medical Centre believes that the condition is due to an adrenal imbalance of the sex hormones. The hormonal imbalance alters and limits growth from the hair follicles. Treatment to stimulate the hair follicle function is needed for regrowth. Following hair loss, the canine skin darkens due to low melatonin levels and stimulated pigment cells.
Other Conditions That Can Cause Hair Loss
- Poor nutrition
- External parasites like fleas or Mange
- Thyroid disease
- Adrenal disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lyme disease
Dry, Flaky Skin
Dry and flaky skin can indicate a number of skin conditions, from dermatitis to Seborrhea. It can also be a reaction to the weather or due to a shortage of healthy oils in your dog’s diet. Visit your vet to rule out any causative conditions. Hopefully, the addition of omega fatty acid supplements can remedy your dog’s dry skin.
Hot spots are identified as red, inflamed areas of the skin. Hot spots are caused by bacterial growth that occurs due to excessive licking or gnawing on a particular area of the skin. This canine behavior will be a reaction to any condition that causes itchiness on the skin, including allergies, insect bites, or a skin infection.
Hot spots are technically described as “acute moist dermatitis” as it is wet and sometimes ooze pus. Humid seasons or a moist environment will also make the hot spot worsen. Treating the location is uncomplicated. However, you will need to discuss treatment options for the causative condition.
Lick Granuloma or lick dermatitis is a compulsive condition when a dog obsessively licks on an area, causing it to become raw, bare, wet, and infected. It’s a self-inflicted sore and can often be anxiety or stress-related. It looks like a hot spot.
The behavior associated with lick granuloma can also be due to an underlying condition or allergies, and topical treatment will not stop the behavior.
Signs Your Dog Has Skin Problems
Most symptoms of dog skin conditions are apparent, and you’ll identify them on the skin. Look out for the following signs in your dog.
- Persistent itching
- Redness and inflammation
- Sores and hot spots
- Dry, flaky skin – dandruff
- Skin lesions and scabs
- Bald patches
- Hair loss
- Excessively oily skin
Treatment for Common Skin Problems
If your pet’s skin problem is minor, or you’re dealing with seasonal allergies, then you’ll want to bring some relief to your itchy pet. Natural soothing treatments like an oat bath, apple-cider vinegar spot treatment, or the use of CBD coconut oil can soothe dry patches and relieve itching temporarily.
When to See the Vet
Taking your four-legged friend to a veterinary dermatologist is vital if skin conditions are ongoing in your pet. Your vet will run a series of tests to identify your dog’s skin issues. These tests could include skin scraping exams, allergy tests, and blood tests.
Once the skin condition is diagnosed, your vet will give you some treatment options depending on the situation. Getting the skin condition under control can include topical therapy and the use of oral medications like antibiotics and antifungals.
Since most skin diseases are a reaction to an underlying problem, comprehensive treatments for causative diseases are the best way to combat dog skin conditions for good.
Preventing Skin Problems
If your dog has ever struggled with severe dog skin conditions, then you will probably want to avoid reoccurrence at all costs. Prevention of skin diseases depends on your dog’s diagnosis.
- Allergies can be controlled with antihistamines.
- Parasites and fleas need to be avoided with regular parasite prevention and flea control.
- Food allergies may require a change in your dog’s diet and the ongoing avoidance of the allergen.
- Contact allergens should be removed from the home or garden, if possible.
- Strengthen your dog’s immune system with natural options like CBD oil, which is known for supporting a healthy inflammatory response and well-being. CBD may also have a calming effect on anxious pups who compulsively lick and bite themselves. Studies have found that CBD can be advantageous in the treatment of skin conditions.
- Medicated baths every few weeks can help keep bacterial infections or yeast overgrowth under control.
Annual checkups with your pet’s veterinarian are a vital part of pet care. If your pet is regularly monitored for symptoms, and examined throughout its lifetime, then an early diagnosis of illness is possible.
Turkey Tail Mushroom for Skin Health
The fungi also provide the body with antioxidants which play a significant role in keeping your dog’s body healthy and disease-free. The purpose of antioxidants is to fight free radicals, thereby shielding the canine body from bacteria, parasites, and disease. As a result, the immune system is more robust, and dogs are healthier and less likely to show flare-ups on their skin.
Where Do I Get Turkey Tail Supplements?
Luckily for your companion pet, companies like Honest Paws have manufactured pet-friendly Turkey Tail supplements. The Turkey Tail Mushroom powder includes a variety of mushroom species that support the immune system, and provide the body with amino acids, antioxidants, and enzymes.
Healthy Dog Skin. It is Possible!
There are so many unique cases of dog skin problems. Seeking the help of a vet is the best route to take if you want to combat dog skin conditions for good.
Managing skin concerns can be frustrating. One day a remedy works, and next time it doesn’t. Continuously seek professional advice and care from your veterinarian. A vet can figure out the root cause and treat it so that flare-ups are less severe or frequent.
The skin is the largest organ of your dog’s body, so when the body’s immune system is supported, the skin is too. Hopefully, after some care and lifestyle or diet adjustments, your dog’s skin will be healthier than ever before.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I treat my dog’s skin problems?
Getting the skin condition under control can include topical therapy and the use of oral medications like antibiotics and antifungals. Take your pet to the vet to diagnose the skin condition and find an effective treatment plan for the skin and any causative conditions.
Why does my dog have scabs all over his body?
Folliculitis causes bumps, sores, and scabs on the skin. This is only one cause of scabs, and there are several other reasons why your pet could have skin problems. Contact your vet for a correct diagnosis.
How can I soothe my dog’s irritated skin?
What does dermatitis look like on a dog?
Atopic Dermatitis, or Allergic Dermatitis, is when the dog’s skin flares, causing it to be dry, patchy, and red.