Your dog has been a little restless lately, scratching and licking themselves more than usual. When you look over your pet, you notice something strange about his skin – it looks inflamed and irritated in some areas.
Although you love your dog, you don’t know the first thing about dog skin conditions, so you take him to the vet immediately. Your vet confirms your dog has a skin condition, but it’s hard to identify which one without further testing. As the vet runs some tests, they explain that dog skin problems and bacterial infections can come from a myriad of reasons, such as allergies or yeast infections.
However, without knowing much about skin conditions in dogs, it’s hard to prevent them or know what to do when they show up.
But don’t worry. We have you covered.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the 10 most common skin conditions in dogs that you should be aware of. By knowing about these conditions, you can help your pup feel better faster by recognizing symptoms and seeking medical assistance when needed.
What Can Happen if a Skin Condition Gets Left Untreated?
If left untreated, skin conditions can become severely infected or cause more serious illnesses. Dogs may experience further irritation and inflammation, hair loss, infections, and even permanent scarring.
Aside from experiencing pain, this discomfort could affect their quality of life. Try to recognize the signs and symptoms as soon as possible so you can discuss treatment options with your vet.
How Can I Notice if My Dog Has a Skin Condition?
The signs of skin conditions are quite diverse, but there are common indicators that you should be on the lookout for.
These might include:
- itchy, red skin;
- dry, flaky patches;
- bumps or scabs;
- hair loss;
- excessive licking or scratching; and
- a foul odor.
Most dogs will also exhibit signs of discomfort when they have a skin condition, such as acting restless or withdrawn from their normal activities.
Now that you know the symptoms to look out for, let’s take a look at some of the most common skin conditions in dogs:
Allergies are the most common cause of skin conditions in dogs. Allergens such as dust, pollen, and certain ingredients in food can trigger an allergic reaction that results in red, itchy skin, and inflammation. Allergies may also lead to secondary skin infections caused by bacteria or yeast.
The best way to prevent allergies in dogs is to identify and avoid the allergens that are causing the reaction.
Where do allergies in dogs come from?
Allergens can be found in many places including the environment, food, and even fleas.
Some of the most common environmental allergens include dust mites and grasses. Food allergies usually stem from proteins that are found in certain foods like beef, wheat or fish. Flea saliva is also known to cause an allergic reaction in some dogs.
How are Allergies Diagnosed?
Your vet will likely conduct a physical exam and ask questions about your dog’s lifestyle and diet to help narrow down the possible allergens. Allergy tests also may be conducted to measure how your pup reacts to certain substances.
If there’s reason to believe the allergy comes from your dog’s diet, your vet may also suggest an elimination diet, a process where specific ingredients are removed from their meals for several weeks until symptoms subside.
Once an allergen is identified, your vet can recommend medication or other treatments, such as environmental modifications (e.g., washing bedding regularly) that can help manage the condition.
Helping reduce allergies in dogs can also mean making changes to their diet, adding quality-grade supplements, as well as using any medications a vet prescribed to reduce inflammation and itching. In terms of skin health, regularly grooming your dog can help reduce skin irritation caused by allergies.
Mange is a skin condition caused by mites that burrow into the skin, often leading to severe itching and inflammation. There are two types of mange: sarcoptic mange, which affects the whole body, and demodectic mange, which is localized to certain parts of the body.
Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, which is highly contagious and can easily spread between animals. Dogs can contract sarcoptic mange from other dogs or even wild animals like foxes and coyotes.
How can I tell if a dog has sarcoptic mange?
Dogs with sarcoptic mange will often have skin lesions or hair loss. They may exhibit intense itching, which can lead to red, scaly skin. Severe cases may also cause visible mites on the skin.
If you believe your dog was in contact with another dog who has sarcoptic mange, bring your pet to the vet for an examination and keep them away from other animals.
Demodectic mange is caused by the Demodex mite, which lives in hair follicles and can cause hair loss and skin irritation. This type of mange is not contagious and usually only affects young dogs with weakened immune systems or older dogs who have an underlying medical condition.
How can I tell the difference between demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange?
Demodectic mange usually appears as hairless patches on the face, neck, or legs, whereas sarcoptic mange is more widespread. Regardless, bring your pet to the vet for a diagnosis since both types of mange have similar symptoms.