5 Common Dog Skin Conditions Pet Owners Should Be Aware Of

Does my dog have a skin condition?

If you notice any changes to your dog’s skin or fur and see him in discomfort, your furry friend may be suffering from a skin condition. Identifying which skin condition your dog has can be difficult due to the number of possible skin problems and the similar symptoms many of them share. Identifying your dogs symptoms, behaviors, and any recent changes to their routine can help you identify which pesky skin condition might be ailing your dog. While this isn’t a complete list of skin problems your dog may have, these are some of the most common ones.

Allergies/Allergic Dermatitis

Symptoms: Excessive scratching and licking, skin may show rashes or infected areas

Allergies and allergic reactions are one of the most common skin conditions dogs may struggle with. These skin reactions can be caused by irritants to grooming products, food, insects, or grass. If you notice your dog has begun to scratch or lick areas of their body after being outside, eating a new food, or using a new grooming product, an allergic reaction may be the cause. 

Treatment: Identify any new products or exposures to anything new, and remove any products that may be the culprit. If it’s a new food brand or grooming product see if you notice any changes by removing those products. If your dog experiences excessive itching, licking, and rashes after being outside, your dog may suffer from an allergy to grass. See your vet for products that can help reduce allergic reactions. 

Dry Skin & Dandruff

Symptoms: Dry skin with flaky patches

Dry skin is another common skin issue dog owners experience with their pets. Dry or flaky skin usually occurs in the dryer months of winter but can also be caused by the use of certain grooming products. 

Treatment: If you notice your dog struggles with dandruff or dry skin, there are products that can help. Use a vet recommended shampoo specifically for dogs with dry skin and be sure that your pet is following a healthy diet. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health, skin issues, and poor hair growth. If none of these simple solutions work and you notice your dog’s health suffering, a visit to the vet is recommended to ensure nothing more serious is going on. 

Parasitic Infections

This is probably one of the most troublesome skin related conditions that dogs and pet owners struggle with. Parasitic infections that can cause skin conditions in your dog include fleas and mites. Both of these skin irritants show different symptoms and require their own unique treatment.

Fleas

Symptoms: Excessive scratching & biting, hotspots, areas of patchy fur, the presence of small brown bugs or black specs

Fleas are one of the most common parasites dogs struggle with. A flea infestation can be very painful and irritating for both you and your pet. Fleas are tiny brown bugs that bite and move quickly. Dog owners may be able to see them crawling on their pet, or in a more serious situation see them in the house or yard if an infestation has occurred.

Treatment: Vet-recommended flea treatments come in all shapes in sizes depending on the size of pet you have and how bad the infestation. Treatments for your dog range from pills, collars, topical treatments, and more. It’s important you use vet-recommended treatments as re-infestation can easily occur. It’s also important you treat your home and yard to prevent re-infestation

Mites 

Symptoms: Itching, scratching, red irritated skin & sores, and hair loss

When it comes to mites, they are what causes the skin condition called mange. Mange can range in many forms but is commonly seen as canine scabies or demodicosis. The main difference between these two types of mange is that canine scabies is very contagious and can easily spread while demodicosis is not contagious.

Treatment: The first step in treating mange is to identify what type of mange it is and the source. Your veterinarian will then recommend the best form of treatment that can include topical products and regular bathing. If mites in your home are the cause, your house will need to be treated as well. 

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are caused by different types of bacteria that lead to varying types of skin conditions in dogs. The two most common bacterial infections dogs struggle with are impetigo and folliculitis. 

Impetigo 

Symptoms: pus-filled blisters, crusty areas on stomach, usually found in puppies

Impetigo is most common in puppies and is usually found on their bellies. This condition isn’t preventable and can happen for a number of reasons. The important thing is that it’s not a serious condition and can easily be treated in most cases.

Treatment: Your vet may recommend a special medicated shampoo or topical treatment. In more severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. 

Folliculitis

Symptoms: sores, scabbing, bumpy skin, and frequent shedding

Folliculitis is a skin condition that can be caused by many different infections, including allergic reactions to fleas. Your dog’s skin may appear irritated in areas and they may experience more frequent shedding and poor fur health. 

Treatment: Identifying what caused the folliculitis is essential to preventing recurrence. If it was due to a reaction caused by fleas, home flea extermination will be required. Your veterinarian will identify the source of your dog’s folliculitis and will be able to recommend the best treatment and course of action to prevent further skin issues. 

Malassezia Dermatitis (Yeast Infections)

Symptoms: Itchy and irritated skin (typically the ears or paws), skin discoloration, strong stinky smell

Yeast infections usually occur in the summer months and can result in a stinky dog that frequently scratches or chews his ears and paws. So if you notice your dog smelling a little more than usual and see him chewing on his ears or paws, it may be time for a trip to the vet.

Treatment: Yeast infections in dogs are usually easily treatable and preventable. Your vet may recommend a topical ointment, medicated shampoo, or even antibiotics. To prevent further yeast infections, give your dog regular baths and keep sugary foods to a minimum. 

Ringworm

Symptoms: circular lesions, inflammation, and hair loss

Ringworm is a fungus that leaves what looks like a circular lesion on your dog’s skin. This fungus is most commonly found in puppies and can result in several irritating skin conditions if left untreated. If you do suspect your dog has ringworm, be sure to keep him separated from other animals to prevent spreading. 

Treatment: Your vet will most likely recommend a topical ointment along with oral medication. It’s also essential that the source of the ringworm is identified to prevent future cases. Be sure to keep your dog separated from other animals until the ringworm has healed. 

Prevention is Key!

There are a lot of irritants and infections that can cause your furry friend to get sick or have an irritating skin condition. Being aware of what causes skin conditions in dogs is key to preventing your dog from suffering from unnecessary comfort. Be sure to keep an eye on your dog and report any unusual behaviours to your vet. If your dog does suffer from a skin condition, the more information you can provide your vet on atypical behavior, changing products, or new environments, the better. 

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