Skin problems in dogs are more common than you might think. If your beloved canine companion develops a skin problem, there is usually nothing to worry about. Most of the time, a quick appointment with the vet is all that you need to get it treated.
What are some common dog skin problems?
Veterinary students spend a sizeable amount of time learning all about canine skin problems: their causes, their symptoms, and how to treat them. Now, we all know that vets wade through all of those facts so that we don’t have to! However, it is certainly a good idea to be aware of the most common skin problems in dogs so that you can spot them when they do arise.
So, below, we explain some common dog skin problems. By the end of this article you will know what some of the most frequently found skin problems are in dogs, and also what they look like and how they are usually treated. Handy knowledge for any dog lover to have!
NB: in many cases a magnifying can be a very useful tool to have around the home as it enables you to see any skin complaints up close. With its aid, for example, you will be able to tell the difference between dandruff and a cheyletiella infection (described below).
Dry Skin on Dogs
Now, this is not really a disease, but it is a common skin ailment in dogs. Dry skin can be super uncomfortable for dogs as it can be itchy and flaky. If dogs start scratching or biting at their dry skin, it can become red, inflamed, sore and infected, leading to further dog health problems.
Dry skin can be caused by any number of different factors. A poor diet (particularly a diet low in protein) is one such factor, and if diet is the issue, dry skin will often be accompanied by a dull and brittle coat.
Another common cause of dry skin in dogs is washing their coats too frequently or too little, or using a shampoo that doesn’t agree with their skin. Or, it could just be that you live in a dry, cold climate!
Dry skin can be treated by consulting a veterinarian about your dog’s diet, and also seeking advice about which grooming products to use on them – and how often. Canine skin can be protected from the climate with doggy clothing, or the right grooming oils.
Do you notice redness, swelling and little crawling creatures on your dog’s skin? Yep, they’ve got fleas. Don’t beat yourself up about it, though: fleas are a pretty common issue for dogs.
Treat fleas with flea powders or sprays: make sure to test the flea product on a small area of your dog’s coat first to ensure that they are not allergic to it. Make sure to treat your carpets too and to boil your dog’s bedding and toys to get rid of any fleas, larvae or eggs that may be lurking there.
Ticks constitute another parasitic infection that dogs can fall prey to, particularly dogs that spend a lot of time outside in long grass. Do not be tempted to remove a tick’s body with tweezers: the mouth parts will stay latched on and will cause swollen, painful skin. Use a little alcohol to make the tick drop off, then consult your vet to ensure your dog hasn’t picked up any tick-borne illnesses.
We’ve all heard of the proverbial ‘mangy mutt’ but did you know that mange is also a clinical infection? Symptoms of mange include fur falling out in patches and becoming thin, dry and itchy skin, and crusted skin sores.
Mange is caused by mites. And, again, mange mites are pretty common parasites in the dog world. More often than not, puppies will catch mange mites from their mother pretty early on in their lives.
Your vet will be able to treat mange with a cream or a series of (usually two) injections into the affected areas of skin. As there are two different types of mange it is important for them to be able to ascertain which variety they are dealing with!
Dogs can get dandruff just like humans. Moreover, some dog breeds are more susceptible to dandruff than others. These breeds include Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Daschunds and Dobermans.
Dandruff is usually caused by sensitivity to a grooming product, such as dog shampoo. So, again, make sure to check with your veterinarian that you are using the right shampoo for your dog. There are plenty of shampoos for dogs with sensitive skin – and anti dandruff dog shampoos too!
Walking dandruff is the common name for another mite borne infection. Cheyletiella mites can look like dandruff on your dog’s skin. But, you can distinguish them from real dandruff because they are usually moving constantly to and fro.
So, if you think that your dog has dandruff, make sure to look a little more closely and check that this ‘dandruff’ is in fact not caused by moving mites. If mites are in fact the problem, get your dog to the vet right away to get them treated! These mites can cause nasty, irritating itching that can be the bane of your beloved pooch’s life.
Unfortunately, cheyletiella mites can be highly infectious both for other animals and for humans. So if you have other pets, make sure to have them treated too. And, touch your dog with caution as soon as you notice the mites. If you develop redness or itching on your own skin, head down to your doctor and let them know that your dog has a cheyletiella infection.
Last but not least, we have yeast infections. These fungal infections tend to be very itchy for dogs. They grow in moist areas of the dog’s body such as their armpits, jowls, and the folds of the ears. Dogs with big floppy ears are, unfortunately, particularly prone to yeast infections.
Yeast infections tend to smell pretty bad, and you may notice your dog repeatedly licking the affected area. Licking, however, only increases the amount of moisture that the infection has to breed in – and thus makes it worse! What will make this infection better is a good wash with an anti-fugal shampoo and a healthy diet!