Is your dog scratching more than usual? Be on the alert as common skin problems for dogs are a source of misery for them and potential signs of underlying conditions.
Dogs are prey to skin problems, especially senior and mobility-challenged dogs because they are not as physically active as their younger and mobile counterparts. Skin problems may occur due to an underlying health condition as well and more likely to come out in the summer when allergies abound. The problems could be mild, which you can easily treat and will go away after a while.
However, serious skin conditions can lead to long-term problems for your dog. In either case, you need to treat them to keep them from getting worse. You need to pay close attention to symptoms so you can address the issue as soon as possible.
The first thing you have to do is recognize there is a problem. Find out the symptoms of possible skin diseases by checking the list below.
Telltale signs of skin problems for dogs
Dogs itching and scratching may be common, but it is not normal if it is frequent or prolonged. In most cases, they are a symptom of a skin problem, but it may not be immediately apparent what type. It could be a mild case of heat rash or it could be something much more serious. Licking is also a sign that a certain area of the skin is irritated.
Other symptoms you might want to pay attention to are the following:
- Dry Skin
- Hair Loss
- Skin Sores
Make a point of checking your furry buddy for any of these signs. If your dog seems to have a bout of serious scratching right after a meal, during summer or winter, or after you’ve made a run with the vacuum cleaner, it could be some type of allergy. Let your vet have as much information as you can to make a diagnosis of the problem easier.
Common skin problems for dogs
Dogs suffer from common skin problems such as allergies and infections. You need to consult your vet every time. However, knowing which ones your dog might have based on the telltale signs will give you a good idea of the urgency of treatment.
Your dog might also be scratching their feet, ears, and face because they are allergic to their food. They can develop intolerance for food they have been eating for a while, so don’t start scratching your head when it happens. The most common dog allergies involve beef, eggs, chicken, and dairy although some dogs get the itchies when they eat anything with wheat or veggies.
To find out if your dog has a food allergy, start eliminating any food you give them one by one. It can take between 8 to 12 weeks to find out which are the culprits. Don’t give in to doe-y eyed pleading for their favorite snacks once you start the elimination process or you’ll never get a clear result.
Dogs that suddenly start scratching their face, stomach or chest like mad are probably allergic to something in the environment. Dogs get atopy the same way humans get hay fever, but the reaction of dogs is to get scratchin’.
The most common culprits for atopy are pollen, dust, mites, and grass. That usually requires contact so remove anything new around your dog such as a new plant to keep them from scratching and hurting themselves. It might also be a good idea to keep your dog’s nails clipped.
If you’re not sure if your dog has atopy, bring him to the vet. A blood test will confirm to which allergens your dog might be reacting. Sometimes removing the offending objects can clear the problem right up, but in severe reactions, your dog might require treatment. Tablets, shampoo, and injections are real possibilities.
Your dog may develop yeast infections in the toes, perineum, and groin because those are warm areas. The yeast will discolor the skin and thicken it, causing the dog to scratch and spread it. It is the usual source of that unpleasant “wet dog” smell. Ask your vet for a topical cream or wash to treat infected sites.
This condition sound painful, and it can be if allowed to continue. Folliculitis, or inflamed hair follicles, happens when your dog has an allergic reaction to the environment or food. It can also happen when your dog has mange (ew). Folliculitis presents as bumps, sores, and scabs on the skin. In most cases, the vet will give you antibiotics and antibacterial ointments to soothe the skin.
If you have a puppy and you see blisters on the skin of its stomach, it might have impetigo. This is a symptom of a serious sin condition, so don’t try to treat it yourself. Go to the vet for a diagnoses and proper treatment. The vet might recommend antibiotics or prescribe a wash to treat the symptom.
Ringworm is not a worm but a fungus, and it is highly contagious to humans and other dogs. Our dog probably has ringworm if you see crusty bald patches on the skin of the head, ears, front legs, and paws. The skin may be inflamed and irritated from scratching.
Consult with a vet immediately to get a topical prescription to kill the fungus and keep it from spreading. It can take as much as 8 weeks for it to clear up. In the meantime, avoid contact with those areas and always wash your hands after handling your dog.
Mange is a result of dog mites that live in the skin and hair of your pets. The mite’s bite causes a severe allergic reaction, causing the dog to scratch at it incessantly. Mange will also cause the dog’s hair to fall out, hence “mangy mutt.”
Bring your dog to the vet for a skin test to find out if it has mange. Treatment usually involves tablets and a special shampoo that kill mites. These will also ease the inflammation and itching.
Many of these skin conditions will probably cause goose bumps to crawl over your skin, but fortunately those will go away. Your dog’s skin problems will not. Always consult a vet at the first sign of a skin disease to keep it from getting worse.