Just about all dog owners, at some point or another in their dog’s life, will have to deal with some sort of skin problem. From itching and soreness to even more serious issues, your pet's skin problems can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. And no one likes to see their loved ones in pain.
Now there are some problems that you shouldn’t have any issues taking care of by yourself at home. But if you don’t notice any improvement after a couple of weeks, you’ll want to make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Regardless, you should be aware of any signs that your dog might have some skin problems. This way, you are fully equipped with all the pertinent information necessary to provide your pooch with the best care possible.
What to Look For
From time to time, it’s quite normal for your dog to scratch and itch just the same as we humans do. But if that itching becomes more frequent than usual, that’s usually a sign that there’s some underlying issue going on. Needless to say, it can be challenging trying to identify the problem and we recommend contacting your veterinarian for a professional opinion.
Here are some of the most common symptoms to note that can lead to skin issues in dogs:
- Hair loss
- Hot spots (redness)
- Swelling or lumps
- Rubbing of ears or face
- Biting or chewing the skin
- Rubbing or scooting on surfaces
Most Common Skin Problems in Dogs
Simply put, your dog may well be suffering from a variety of skin issues. These could vary from fleas to an allergy they might have to some food you’re feeding them. If your dog is displaying symptoms of a skin condition, one or more of these top canine skin ailments might be to blame.
If your dog is suffering from ringworm, it’s important to know that they aren’t dealing with “worms,” per se. The name ringworm is actually derived from its appearance of circular, crusty patches that are often surrounded by inflammation. More often than not, you’ll find these inflammations located on the dog’s head, front legs, and ears. The fungus's small spores (or seeds) reproduce in the dead outer layers of your dog's skin where they then travel to other regions of your dog’s body. The easiest way to tell if your dog has ringworm is by the appearance of circular patches of missing hair.
Ticks & Fleas
Ticks and fleas are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of both animals and humans. They achieve this by clinging to their host's skin and breaking the surface to draw blood. These unwanted guests are usually picked up from the local dog park you like to visit, kennels, or even your backyard. Although ticks and flea infestations share many similarities, how you go about locating and disposing of them is slightly different. Look for fleas near the base of the ears and your dog’s rear, but they can be found anywhere in your dog's fur. Simply spread the fur apart to look for any small brown dots (the fleas), then grab to remove.
Ticks, on the other hand, are significantly larger, so you'll be able to identify them quite easily most of the time. But unlike fleas, you’ll want to be a bit more meticulous with the removal process. You’ll need some tweezers to completely remove the parasite. And make sure you pull the tick straight out so no remnants are left behind that could cause an infection.
Mange is a skin ailment caused by microscopic mites. Dogs commonly carry a variety of these external parasites on their skin and fur with no ill effects. The issues arise when some mites decide to reproduce, which can cause infections. Sarcoptic and Demodectic mange are the two main types of mange that dogs can get. We’ll briefly go over both below.
This kind of mange, often known as canine scabies, is easily transmitted from dog to dog. It can even be spread from person to person, but it seldom survives in humans. Sarcoptic mange may also make dogs restless and scratch constantly, resulting in bald patches, irritation, ulcers, and scabs. It most commonly affects a dog's face, ears, and legs, although it can affect any part of the body.
Demodectic mange, unlike Sarcoptic mange, is much less infectious. In reality, the majority of dogs that are infected inherited it from their mother. And although the mites that are responsible for Demodectic mange can be passed from dog to dog, they're usually absorbed into the existing mite population of a healthy dog and cause no real complications.
In humans, we refer to it as dandruff. When dogs deal with oily and flaky skin, we refer to it as seborrheic dermatitis. It’s usually caused by overactive sebaceous glands in the skin and is located on the dog’s back. Some dogs may already be prone to having dry skin (especially in the winter), which could be due to their diet. To ensure your dog is receiving all the nutrients needed to keep their fur healthy, make sure you’re feeding them foods that are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Providing your dog with a high-quality meal rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is an important first step in keeping their skin healthy. Also, make sure you’re bathing your dog often enough. Knowing when to bathe your dog will help keep their coat looking its best.
Canine lupus is an autoimmune illness, meaning that the immune system destroys the body's cells. Unfortunately for our dogs, open, crusty skin sores that do not heal promptly might signal an immunological issue. When looking for these sores, they can usually be found around the nose, eyes, and paws. The two main types of canine lupus are known as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). DLE is the most common type affecting your dog’s skin, namely the areas around the nose and face. Although not as common as DLE, SLE is much more serious and will target different parts of your dog’s body, making it that much more difficult to diagnose. It usually affects the kidneys, joints, and skin but it has the ability to damage any organ. And just like its DLE brethren, the cause of SLE is still a mystery. But no matter which type your dog might have, lupus can be fatal if not properly taken care of. That's why it's critical to have your dog regularly examined by a veterinarian.
The food your dog eats or the surroundings in which they live and play are the most common causes of allergies in dogs. Itching in the face, feet, chest, and stomach that appears suddenly might suggest an environmental allergy that is triggered when your dog comes into contact with the source of their irritation. This reaction to airborne allergens such as plant, dust, and pollen is what’s known as canine atopic dermatitis (AKA atopy). Now, if you notice an increased amount of scratching of your dog’s face, ears, feet, and anus, that can mean your dog has some sort of food allergy. They usually develop these allergies from whatever proteins you’re feeding them. This could be from anything such as beef and chicken, or eggs and dairy. Some dogs might experience wheat or vegetable allergies, but this is far less common.
Skin disorders in dogs can either be infectious or non-contagious, and they are usually classified as parasitic, bacterial, fungal, or viral. An open wound, blister, or sore on your pet's body is what usually causes these infections. Bacterial infections in dogs can occur as a result of other issues as well. For example, an itchy dog with skin allergies may develop sores that end up getting infected and need professional help. Maybe you’ve noticed that your pooch is scratching more than usual (namely the ears) or nibbling on their paws. If that’s the case, then they more than likely have a yeast infection. This may seem serious, but it can usually be taken care of via medication, ointments, or special baths. A couple of other common forms of skin infections in dogs are impetigo, where you’ll notice blisters on your dog's stomach and folliculitis that usually results in scabs and sores. Just as with the yeast infection, you’ll want to take a trip to your local veterinarian where they should be able to take care of your doggo.
Even though we’ve gone over the top 7 most common skin problems in dogs, there’s still a plethora of other infections your pooch could experience. In many circumstances, skin conditions in dogs, particularly lesions or infections that don't seem to go away, are indicators of a more significant systemic issue. Any serious skin conditions your dog may suffer from should be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you want to get ahead of potential problems, consider adding a skincare supplement to your dog’s diet as a preventative measure. Check out our SOOTHE CBD supplement which includes a variety of ingredients that support the treatment of skin and coat issues. The salmon flavored chews help with itchy and dry skin as well as promote a healthier and shinier coat. A daily supplement taken consistently over time can improve a dog's wellness. And who doesn’t want a happy pup?