Home Dog Care 6 Dog Skin Conditions and What to Do About Them

6 Dog Skin Conditions and What to Do About Them

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There are a number of conditions that can affect your dog’s skin. As a proud pup owner, it’s important to educate yourself on what they are, how serious they can be and how to treat them. Most dog skin conditions are minor, but they can be very uncomfortable for your pet if left untreated. Some dog skin conditions can also lead to other infections if you don't take care of them quickly.

Dog Skin Conditions and What to Do About ThemThe simple fact is, great health for your dog starts with his skin. The largest organ of his body, the skin not only protects the internal organs, muscles, and bones – but, did you know that it also helps your dog to regulate his body temperature?

We’ll run through 6 skin conditions that can affect your canine, talk you through how to spot them, and what to do from there. It's your responsibility to observe your pet every day so that you you know what his “normal” behavior is.

If you notice your pet scratching more than normal or chewing on any part of his body, he may have a skin condition. Depending on the type of condition he is suffering from, there are sure to be other noticeable signs. Let's take a look at the most common dog skin conditions and their symptoms.

6 Dog Skin Conditions and What to Do About Them

Dog Skin Conditions

1 Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic, inflammatory condition that affects the dog’s skin that is usually caused by environmental allergens, for example, pollen, cleaning sprays, and mold. This condition often shows up on the face, ears, underarms, lower legs, and paws, with the condition gradually getting worse without treatment. Atopic Dermatitis may begin as the odd scratch here and there and cultivate into your dog rubbing himself redraw.

Symptoms

  • Itching and scratching excessively
  • Rubbing against furniture or trees
  • Licking at the affected area

Home Remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar – Combine one part Apple Cider Vinegar with one part water in a sterile spray bottle and spray on the affected areas to relieve itching and help encourage healing. If your dog has raw areas of skin, it’s best to use a milder option as this could sting.

Air Purifier – An excellent way to get rid of environmental pollutants such as dust is to keep an air purifier on in the room that your dog spends most of his time. Many owners swear by this solution, and claim that the difference in their pet’s quality of life and skin health after investing in an air purifier improves beyond belief!

Medical Treatment – As this is an allergy based condition, blood testing, and skin patch testing is usually performed to determine the allergen that’s causing your dog to have outbreaks, sometimes your veterinarian may need to send you to visit with a specialist canine dermatologist to find the source and develop an effective treatment plan.

Veterinary Treatment Options

  • Hyposensitization Therapy
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Topical ointments

RELATED: Skin Tags On Dogs – 8 Ways To Prevent and Treat Them

Dog Skin Conditions

2 Pemphigus

A group of four autoimmune skin conditions known to cause scabs, crusting and fluid-filled cysts on the dog’s skin. Bacterial infections from the open sores are common, as are fever and depression with these dog skin conditions. Each variation of Canine Pemphigus shows different effects and symptoms. Let's run through them one by one:

Vegetans – This is characterized by groupings of cysts that bond together to form large oozing lesions.

Foliaceus – Most commonly this variation of Pemphigus affects the head, ears, and pads of the feet. With symptoms including scabbing, and crusting of the skin, oozing lesions, and overgrowth on the pads of the feet which result in a cracked appearance.

As the feet are affected, you can expect your dog to suffer from mild to severe lameness, as well as running a fever, and showing swelling on the lymph nodes.

Erythematosus – Pretty similar in symptoms to Pemphigus Foliaceus, the main way to distinguish the difference is by looking at the color of the dog’s lips. Where they are turning pale, or blue-ish, that likely indicates that Erythematosus is the culprit.

Vulgaris – The final, and unfortunately most severe version of this condition. Blisters and deep ulcers will likely appear across the entire body. Mouth ulcers are a huge problem with this ailment, as the pain can stop a dog from eating and result in anorexia which weakens the body’s immune response further.

Home Remedies

Managing symptoms of these dog skin conditions and making your dog as comfortable as possible is one of the best things that you can do for him. Changes in diet have also shown to be beneficial, with many autoimmune conditions greatly affected by diet and being able to be overcome or the symptoms significantly lessened by owners that put a big focus on their dog's food.

Veterinary Treatment Options

In each of these four variants – as with all autoimmune conditions, the body is reacting with to healthy tissue as though it were a threat. Your veterinarian will perform a skin analysis to ensure that there aren’t other reasons for the symptoms, and once a positive diagnosis has been made, treatment can begin.

The standard treatment process for a canine suffering from Pemphigus is steroid therapy, and in more severe cases the dog will need to be hospitalized for a period to safely get the symptoms under control. Corticosteroid therapy is another treatment for these dog skin conditions and will require that your pet switches to a low-fat diet due to the medications proclivity for increasing the risk of pancreatitis.

MORE: Pancreatitis In Dogs – Symptoms, At-Home & Veterinary Treatments, Prevention

Dog Skin Conditions

3 Hot Spots

These annoying, yet minor skin irritations on your dog can be likened to heat rash that humans can get during the summer. Also known as summer sores, or moist dermatitis, they are most often caused by gnawing or licking at an area which results in a bacterial infection.

All dogs have healthy bacteria living on their skin, but when they pierce the surface of their skin – even with just a tiny scrape – that normal bacteria makes its way into the dog’s body and creates an infection which can cause oozing sores. Most commonly these happen in humid climates, or after your dog has been in water due to the abundance of bacteria, and are far more common in dogs with thick undercoats such as Border Collies, Labradors, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers.

Symptoms

The hot spot itself is the first sign! So when you spot a raised, or oozing bump on your dog’s skin, it’s best to take him for immediate medical treatment before it worsens.

Home Remedies

The best way to aid in recovery, and in fact – avoid hotspots in the first place is to keep your dog’s fur well groomed and trimmed. If you live in hot or humid weather, this is of particular importance.

While your dog is recovering from this ailment, you can gently wash the area with a mild shampoo, and pat dry. Many veterinarians will advise that your dog wears a cone collar during the initial healing process to avoid reopening the healing wound.

Veterinary Treatment Options

The main treatment for this condition is cleaning of the area and application of a topical ointment. Depending on the severity of infection, your veterinarian may also prescribe oral medication.

Dog Skin Conditions

4 Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies is caused by the sarcoptic mite taking up residence atop your pooch. A common condition that is highly contagious to both canines and humans alike, for that reason – it’s advised that you keep your dog quarantines while treatment takes place.

Your dog can easily pick this up from a boarding kennel, at the dog park, or even at your local vet clinic. The condition takes about six-weeks post-exposure to show symptoms.

The sarcoptic mite – also known as the Sarcoptes Scabie Mite burrows into your dog’s skin, and it’s this that causes irritation and itching for your poor pup. Contrary to popular belief, the mite itself doesn’t cause the dog’s hair to fall out; rather it’s your dog’s scratching to try and relieve the discomfort that results in the hair loss.

Symptoms

  • Excessive itching of the skin
  • Areas of bleeding on the skin
  • Scabs forming on the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Raised rash

Home Remedies

It may be worth using a scabicidal shampoo on your dog once per week until every sign of the mite has gone and your vet has given him the all clear. As the condition is highly contagious to humans, it might be worth picking up a scabicidal shampoo for yourself too!

Veterinary Treatment Options

The treatment for the sarcoptic mange itself is pretty simple. The dog is ordinarily given a scabicide dip that kills all living mites on the body. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t kill the eggs, which is why a weekly bath at home is necessary in most cases. The secondary problems of possible infection to the skin will be treated with topical ointments, and may also include steroids.

SIMILAR: 5 Best Remedies for Dog's Dry or Itchy Skin, Paws or Nose

Dog Skin Conditions

5 Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, unlike the Sarcoptic variety, is caused by an influx of overpopulation of Demodex mites that ordinarily live on dogs without issue. Demodectic mange usually occurs with the Demodex mite in dogs with a weakened immune system, including sick or old dogs.

Symptoms

The symptoms of the condition include:

  • Lesions on the body
  • Excessive itching
  • Hair loss

Home Remedies

Soothing the irritation is one of the best ways to help your dog through recovery. You can do this by bathing him in a mild soap regularly and applying a fresh aloe vera gel to the afflicted areas of his skin afterward. It’s important to use a cone collar after application to avoid him licking at the area and causing even more damage.

Medical Treatment

In most cases, the problem will resolve by itself. But, in some cases a lime-sulfur dip may be required to help control the Demodex population.

Dog Skin Conditions

6 Sunburn

This dangerous condition is often overlooked when it comes to our pets. Even though us humans remember to slather sunscreen on ourselves, you may well be forgetting to protect your beloved pet. The most common areas to be affected by sunburn are the face and the ears, with shorter haired dogs being susceptible to sunburn across their body.

Symptoms

  • Reddened skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Painful blisters

Home Remedies

The best cure is prevention, but did you know that you absolutely cannot use most human sunscreens on your pet? The Zinc-oxide, which is an ingredient in most sunscreens, can cause severe and sometimes deadly results if ingested by your dog.

But don’t worry, pet-safe options are available to buy at many pet stores, and online. If you can’t find a pet-friendly option, sometimes it is possible to use a baby sunscreen – but make sure that it’s fragrance-free and doesn’t contain zinc-oxide!

Veterinary Treatment Options

To relieve pain, your vet will likely apply cold compresses to the affected skin, and cortisone to reduce inflammation. To prevent infections from occurring, your vet may prescribe an antibacterial ointment.

If your pooch does develop an infection after suffering from sunburn, you can request antibiotics from your vet that should help to clear it up pretty quickly.


Final Thoughts

When your dog shows signs of illness on his skin, it’s important to seek out veterinary care immediately. Not only will the immediate care of dog skin conditions likely save him from a lot of pain, but it will also save you from larger vet bills should things be left to progress!

Once dog skin conditions have been diagnosed, the rest is pretty plain sailing back to healthy skin, with a clear treatment plan usually including routine bathing, and ointment application. Be sure to follow your veterinarian's instructions exactly, and don’t miss any treatments if at all possible.

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