Patrick shares advice on common skin complaints in dogs
March 7, 2022
Approximately 21% of dogs suffer from a skin condition at some point in their lives. Skin conditions can be a life long issue, especially for certain predisposed breeds, and can be costly to diagnose and treat. Finding the cause of the problem can be a challenge, requiring multiple trips to the surgery and a lot of detective work by our vets, but its well worth getting to the root case of the problem so that the symptoms can be effectively managed and your dog can be spared itching and discomfort.
Skin conditions may also be a symptom of a more serious health condition. Patrick advises that the first step towards treating your dog’s skin complaint is to arrange a check up so that we can start the process of diagnosing the problem and finding a suitable treatment.
There are many different skin problems a dog can develop, so the symptoms may vary. However, here are some common diseases and manifestations that you can look out for.
Fleas are very common and can cause itchy/sore skin and bald patches from excessive scratching. Mites and lice can cause irritation, red skin, and severe itching, and mites can also burrow into the skin to lay eggs, causing mange. Mange and Fleas are treated with medication and topical treatments such as specially formulated dermatological shampoos. Ticks must be removed straight away as they can transmit Lyme disease as well as causing irritation.
Allergies are often from the environment or food, causing itchiness, scratching, inflammation, coughing, or sneezing. Atopy (or allergic hypersensitivity) occurs when the dog’s immune system overreacts to something that would otherwise not bother them – such as dust, mites, moulds or pollen. Food allergies usually occur if the dog is allergic to certain proteins in the food that trigger an immune response when eaten. Mild allergies can be treated using anti-inflammatory drugs, but more severe allergies may require further testing and a change in diet.
Severe allergic reactions to insect stings, some poisonous plants, or toxic substances, can cause hives, rashes, or swellings anywhere on your dog’s body. A severe allergic reaction is an emergency so get in touch with the surgery asap on 01223 359021.
3. SKIN INFECTIONS
It is quite normal for bacteria and yeast to live on a dog’s skin without causing problems. An infection can take hold if the skin is damaged, usually from scratching. A bacterial infection can cause circular red patches on the skin that often smell pungent. To diagnose the disease, a bacterial culture will be made so the corresponding antibiotic can be administered.
Yeast infections are frequently caused by allergies or overproduction of oil leading to the increase of yeast on the skin. This leads to skin thickening and crusting, a greasy coat, and a sour, unpleasant smell. Yeast infections are treated with prolonged medication and topical treatments.
Moist dermatitis, or ‘hot spots’, can appear very quickly. Hot spots are red skin patches of infected skin that look wet and may weep. Ringworm in dogs is a fungal infection that is thankfully quite rare – it causes circular patches of red, raised, hairless, itchy skin.
4. HORMONAL ISSUES
The most common hormonal issue to cause skin problems are Hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s disease, which both cause hair loss, flaky skin, and sometimes rashes. Treatments include medication, therapy, and sometimes surgery.
Our Vets can advise you on how to treat and prevent many of the above skin complaints during a check-up appointment at our Cambridge veterinary practice.