Dog skin conditions are pretty common, especially in dogs who are often confined to indoor spaces and spend a lot of time with other animals. Because skin conditions in dogs are rarely isolated incidents, they are frequently caused by an underlying medical condition like adverse food reactions, environmental allergies, bacterial or fungal infections, parasites, endocrine (hormonal) disorders, or genetics. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat these conditions, so it's important to see him or her if you notice symptoms like itching, licking, biting, chewing, redness, crusting, flaking, hair loss, scabbing, odor, and discoloration
Common Dog Skin Conditions
Because dog skin conditions can be so varied and unpredictable in their appearance, we have provided you with an overview of some of the most common problems as well as their treatment options.
Allergic skin disease is a type of allergic reaction that is localized to the skin. It occurs when your dog’s immune system overreacts to something that is otherwise harmless. Allergic skin disease is typically caused by airborne particles (e.g., dust, pollen, dander, etc.) or food allergies (allergies to the proteins contained in their food). Symptoms of this type of dog skin condition may range from itchiness and redness to hair loss and even open sores. The severity of these symptoms can vary from dog to dog. The best way to treat allergic skin diseases is to first determine the source of the allergy. Depending on the allergen, you can treat your dog by removing the source of the allergen, changing their diet, or giving them medication.
2. Bacterial Infection
Bacterial infections of the skin often cause redness, swelling, pain, and an odor reminiscent of rotten eggs. This is caused by the bacteria producing a biochemical called thiol, which is what causes the smell. Bacterial infections most commonly affect dogs that are either compromised or are in the process of recovering from another condition. For example, wounds often become infected as they try to heal. In these situations, you should treat the infection as soon as possible to avoid complications. Signs of a bacterial skin infection include hair loss, swelling, inflammation, pustules, and/or oozing. Treatment will depend on the severity of the infection, but antibiotics are a common choice. If your dog is suffering from a severe bacterial skin infection, your veterinarian may prescribe a combination of antibiotics and other medications to help control the symptoms.
3. Fungal Infection
Fungal infections of the skin can be caused by one of two types of fungi: dermatophytes or yeasts. Dermatophytes are more likely to cause infections in dogs; yeasts are more common in cats. Fungal infections are common in dogs with weakened immune systems, such as older dogs, puppies, and dogs with chronic diseases. They are also extremely common in dogs with compromised immune systems, such as those that have been spayed or neutered. Signs of a fungal infection include hair loss, pustules, scabs, and/or inflammation. Although the symptoms are similar to a bacterial infection, the treatment is not. Dermatophyte infections are treated with anti-fungal medications, whereas bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
Fleas are a common cause of skin problems in puppies. Parasites frequently trigger hair loss, scabbing, redness, and extreme itching. Even if you don’t see parasites, your pet might still have them. Some mites cannot be seen with the naked eye and must be identified using a microscope, while others are difficult to see if your dog has a dark or thick coat. Parasite infections can be treated with prescription drugs from your veterinarian. You can also educate yourself on how to clean your pet’s space. Your veterinarian will assist you in removing parasites and preventing future infections. Your pet can avoid several skin issues by using a monthly flea and tick preventive.
5. Hot Spots
Hot spots are localized skin infections in which an inflamed, red area appears on the skin. If an allergy or parasite infection is present, moisture can trap against the skin, resulting in a hot spot. Swimming or an allergy or parasite infection can result in a hot spot. A hot spot is most often detected by its distinctive appearance. Your vet may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to remove the infection, depending on its severity.
This condition develops as a result of pressure on the bones of the elbows, hips, and hind legs of dogs. The presence of a callus protects the protruding bones from lying on the ground. Dogs with calluses have skin that becomes thick, hairless, and gray, which makes them easy to detect. You might observe calluses on your dog's elbows if he prefers to lay on a concrete patio or tile floors. Normally, your dog will not be hurt by them, but they might crack or bleed. In these circumstances, they may cause injury or infection. To protect them, apply Vaseline to the calluses and rub it in. It is important to reach all regions of a callus and not just the top layer. Apply every 12 hours for one week, and then keep the area soft by applying the product daily.
7. General Skin Diseases
General skin diseases affect the entire skin and not just one area. Some of these conditions are genetic and can be seen in certain dog breeds. A few examples of common skin diseases include pemphigus, demodectic mange, and atopy. Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease that can cause redness and blisters on the skin. Demodectic mange is a common skin condition in young dogs where mites reside in the pores of the skin. Atopy is caused by allergies and can be seen in dogs that have thick hair, such as Labradors. If you notice that your dog’s skin is abnormally red, swollen, hot, itchy, and scaly, consult your veterinarian. They may be dealing with one of the above skin diseases, or they may have a more serious condition such as a bacterial infection in the blood, which is called sepsis.
Although most people think of skin diseases as being primarily human conditions, they are just as common in dogs. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of these conditions so that you can treat your dog as quickly as possible. Early treatment can help prevent complications, such as bacterial infections that can spread throughout your dog’s body.