Dogs are no exception to skin problems no matter how fluffy their fur could be. Every day, they get exposed to a lot of things which could pose a threat to their well-being. The skin, being the largest organ in the body, is the first line of defense. If this first defense barrier is easily invaded, then diseases could emerge and this could become really uncomfortable for them. In fact, veterinarians frequently encounter these types of cases in their typical clinic day. It is said that the occurrence of diseases relies on the presence of three factors. These are the host, the factors for related disease organism (i.e. pathogen) and the environment. It is also important to understand that dog skin problems may appear or manifest in a similar visual manner but the underlying cause could be entirely different. Thankfully, these skin problems are usually easy to spot. So, don’t panic, keep calm and arm yourself with basic knowledge.
The following, in no particular order, are five common dog skin problems and treatments.
The dog will continue scratching until the skin is a bit exposed
Mange is caused by microscopic mites, basically a parasite, and is classified into demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange (dog or canine scabies). Demodectic mange is usually more common than scabies and is usually found in puppies. This kind of mange is caused by a type of mite that is typically found in dogs. However, if the immunity of the dog weakens, these mites could thrive and cause itching, skin damage, and even infections. Scabies, on the other hand, causes similar symptoms but is more severe and is brought about by another type of mites. The dog will continue scratching until the skin is a bit exposed. This type of dog skin problem is contagious to humans so better tell the veterinarian as well if you are itching! Parasiticide is usually administered for mange but the type of treatment management (i.e. medication and duration) differs on the type of mange according to diagnosis.
Hot spots or officially called traumatic pyoderma titis is localized skin inflammation coupled with pruritus or skin itching, lesions with pus and hair loss around it. They can be exacerbated by persistent scratching because of bites and contact allergy. This dog skin problem is treated by cleaning the infected area with a medicated dog shampoo and over-the-counter remedy. However, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or steroid for this. Please take note to be very careful with antibiotics as they can ‘cause’ resistant strains.
Please take note to be very careful with antibiotics as they can ‘cause’ resistant strains
Flea atopic dermatitis
Flea atopic dermatitis of FAD is a type of allergy that is, well, caused by flea bites. Dogs which are insensitive to flea bites experience temporary itchiness but dogs which are truly affected by this kind of allergy are hypersensitive to those bites even from 1-2 flea. A bite can trigger persistent scratching and biting which can cause skin damage as well. Treatment of this type of allergy involves getting rid of fleas (application of medicated shampoo), preventing the fleas to get back (dog environment should be cleaned and maintained as well) and medical administration (i.e. antihistamines).
A bite can trigger persistent scratching and biting which can cause skin damage as well
Atopic dermatitis or atopy is an inflammatory dog skin problem usually caused by environmental allergens such as pollens, spores and others which can be inhaled and penetrate. This results to itching (as well) in ears and feet. There is no treatment for this type of allergy, though just like in humans, it can be treated. It may involve administrations of steroids to suppress the hyperactive immune system of the dog or antihistamines to relieve the itch it brings. Also, allergy shots can be given to dogs especially during allergy season and/or short term flare ups.
Hair loss, as the name implies, is the shedding of hair (baldness) which can be localized or generalized. This is such a sad dog skin problem especially for pets that have the fluffiest fur. This can be caused by an allergy or diet deficiency. However, this skin problem may also be caused by a more serious underlying systematic problem (hormonal disorders) such as that of thyroid and kidney diseases, Cushing’s disease, and cancer. Lesions might arise from this dog skin problem. Treatment can vary depending on the cause. General over-the-counter products such as shampoo (which can reduce hair loss) can be used as treatment. Appropriate diets and nutritional supplements optimized with essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6 can help.
This skin problem may also be caused by a more serious underlying systematic problem
Ultimately, it is still important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis so that if the dog skin problem is curable then the veterinarian can give medications. In situations where the skin disease is incurable, proper management of the disease should be adopted. Anyhow, prevention is better than cure so make sure that your pet dog is given proper nutrition and a good living environment to enhance its immunity and ensure its good well being. By early identification of the dog skin problem and treatment, you and your dog will still have many happy and healthy memories together.