Skin problems in dogs may not be immediately noticeable to you, so look out for signs that your dog may be giving you. They may lick or scratch their skin, or even constantly look at the affected area. You should also look out for dry, flaky skin – which can be a symptom of a number of skin problems – or changes in the color or texture of their coat.
Here’s a guide to the five main types of skin problems that your dog may be suffering from, and how they may be treated:
1) Parasites: Mange, fleas and ticks are all common parasites that can lead to skin problems in dogs. They can cause itching, sores and hair loss. You may even be able to see fleas, droppings, eggs and ticks on your dog’s skin. There are a number of topical and oral treatment for fleas, and you can remove ticks using tweezers. Mange treatments differ depending on the type of mange, so visit your veterinarian for advice. If ticks are common in your area it’s important to get your dog vaccinated against Lyme Disease.
2) Allergies: A number of skin problems in dogs are simply caused by allergic dermatitis – that means allergies to certain foods, grooming products, insect bites, pollen and other environmental irritants. Some of the signs include scratching and rashes. You should visit a veterinarian to discover the source of the allergy and the most effective treatment available.
3) Illness: Skin problems could be a sign that your dog is suffering from an underlying illness, which is why consultation with a veterinarian is always recommended unless the skin problem is very clear.
4) Fungal Infections: A number of fungal infections can lead to skin problems in dogs. One common cause is yeast infection, usually affecting the paws and ears, which can cause your dog to scratch and lick the affected areas. You may also notice that the skin is discolored and looks irritated. Topical cream is usually used in these cases, but treatment can also be delivered in the form of medicated baths and oral drugs.
Ringworm is another fungal treatment (not caused by a worm as the name suggests) and can cause scaly patches, hair loss and inflammation around the circular lesions on the ears, paws, legs and head. This is remedied using anti-fungal treatments.
5) Alopecia: Changes in the way your dog sheds hair, or obvious hair loss, can be a sign of skin problems. Alternatively it could be down to alopecia. This is caused by a number of factors such as poor nutrition, underlying illness and stress.
The good news is that most skin problems in dogs are not considered emergencies. However, they may be due to underlying illnesses, which is why an proper diagnosis is so important.