10 Common Skin Problems for Dogs

If your child blushes badly, he will understand the words “Don’t itch”. (Whether he’s listening is a whole different story!) Unfortunately, that’s not the case with pets. They hurt, they itch, they whine, they itch, and before you realize it’s even worse.

Dogs can be affected by a wide variety of skin problems, including:

1. Canine atopy: Seasonal pollen allergies in dogs aged 1-5 start in late summer and autumn. Symptoms include itching around the face and paws, which can spread to the ears, armpits, elbows, and groin. Up to 75 percent of dogs diagnosed with atopy experience recurrent ear infections. Immunotherapy is the most effective treatment, sometimes in collaboration with antihistamine therapy or an essential fatty acid dietary supplement.

2. Chiggers (aka Thrombiculiasis): Common skin parasites found in the central United States that cause itching and severe skin irritation around the legs, head, and abdomen. Chiggers are usually found in high numbers in the spring and fall in grassy areas. These mites appear reddish-orange, and although you won’t usually be able to see them, you will notice a small scar. Treatment involves either applying several pyrethrin-based dips several weeks apart or applying a topical anti-parasite medication.

3. Dermatitis: inflammatory allergic skin conditions including: pyotraumatic dermatitis, which presents as a red, moist, hairless sore; acral lick dermatitis, which creates a sore that your dog will likely lick all day; contact dermatitis caused by direct contact with irritants such as fertilizer or bleach; and flea allergy dermatitis caused by saliva or flea sensitivity. Your vet may recommend oral antibiotics or injections to treat dermatitis.

4. Ear mites: small, crab-like parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs. They are highly contagious and common in puppies. Although they live on the surface of the skin in the ear, they can spread to your dog’s back, neck and tail. If you notice your dog shaking his head excessively or scratching around his ears – or if you notice dark residue or a foul odor in his ears – it could be caused by mites. Few over-the-counter medications treat them effectively.

5. Flea allergies: Proteins in flea saliva cause severe itching. A single bite can cause a reaction for 5-7 days. Desensitization injections are generally not effective because it is difficult to collect enough flea saliva to make serum. Consult your veterinarian for a flea control program that will not further irritate your dog’s skin.

6. Impetigo: An inflammatory skin condition characterized by shallow blisters that break easily. In younger animals, you will see inflamed white pimples on the stomach. They ooze pus, dry up and then form crusts. You can treat impetigo with daily applications of antiseptic powder such as BFI.

7. Dog Throat (juvenile cellulite): skin irritation affecting the face, ears and lymph nodes of puppies under four months old. Pimples develop and break open, followed by crusts and small ulcers. Your puppy may have trouble eating or swallowing and may become depressed or have a fever. Throats can be treated with antibiotics.

8. Ringworm: A skin disease that has the appearance of a crusty or crusty round sore, caused by a fungus. As the disease progresses, you will notice more of these sores. Treatment includes cleaning the infected spots, applying a fungicide regularly, keeping the lesions clean to prevent infection, and maintaining proper hygiene to prevent spread.

9. Scabies (Sarcoptic Scabies): A condition caused by mites that results in hair loss, itching, and lesions. The mites nest on the skin surface of dogs, usually on the abdomen, chest, legs and ears, and deposit their eggs in a trail behind them. You will only notice a few crusts and perhaps some hairless patches. The most effective treatment involves the application of topical solutions such as Salamectin.

10. Ticks: large parasites that attach to the skin. They are usually located under the auricle and where the hair is thin. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, including tick paralysis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Now that you know some of the common skin problems that affect dogs, you will be better equipped to identify them.

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