Canine Skin Diseases

There are several kinds of canine skin diseases that our dogs can develop—they are also pretty common in the canine world. While these are not fatal for the most part, failure to do something about it may result in discomfort and pain to our beloved dogs.

Let us classify the canine skin diseases in categories: Immune-mediated skin disorders, physical skin diseases, infectious skin diseases, flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies and hereditary and developmental skin diseases. If you see signs that your dog has symptoms of skin disease like itching, hives, redness, bald patches, etc.—bring him to the vet right away to determine the exact nature of the skin disease for proper treatment. The earlier the detection and accurate diagnosis, the faster your dog can get back to normal.

Immune-mediated skin disorder is typified by hypersensitivity to certain allergens. Examples of this kind of allergy are canine atopic dermatitis, pemphigus, and discoid lupus erythematosus. Canine atopic dermatitis consists about 10% of all allergies and is triggered by environmental allergens like pollen, weeds, trees, molds and house dust. This allergy is actually seasonal most of the times (late summer or fall) so when that time of the year comes around, take extra precaution to keep your dog away from these substances as much as possible. Invest in a good air cleaner to improve your home’s air quality and decrease the chances of allergies for both you and your pet.

The common “hot spot” is an example of physical skin disease. It is also known as acute moist dermatitis. Many times this occurs when the dog’s hair becomes matted and top layers of the skin develop into pus and get trapped in the hair. Brushing your dog’s fur every day is a simple task that can easily prevent this from happening to your dog. In relation to acute moist dermatitis, acral lick granulomas is another physical skin disease that is caused by the constant licking of the dog. The incessant licking and biting is often caused by extreme itchiness so check for potential sources of this irritation and remove it immediately.

Infectious skin diseases like scabies, mange and ringworm are very distressing for dogs. These fungal and bacterial infections are evidenced by intense itching, hair loss, trauma, redness, ulcers and scaly skin. It is difficult to find these culprits and microscopic examination is needed. Ask your vet for a pain relieving medication for your dog to alleviate his discomfort, but don’t use steroids or harsh chemicals to treat this because it will be more harmful for the dog in the long run.

Flea allergy dermatitis is when the dog develops a severe allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a whole army of fleas to infect a dog, it can take only one tiny flea to send the dog in a frenzy of itching. Many pet owners use topical medications to treat this, although it might be a safer alternative to use essential oils as a mild and effective repellent to dogs.

Seborrheic dermatitis, ichthyosis, skin fragility syndrome, hereditary canine follicular dysplasia and hypotrichosis belong to the list of hereditary and developmental skin diseases. Certain breeds are more prone to develop certain skin diseases. Fortunately, you can ask the vet for recommendations and treatments on how to best manage your dog’s condition.

Food allergies are caused by the dog’s sensitivity to particular ingredients. You will know if your dog has food allergies if the symptoms of allergies improve after putting him on a hypoallergenic diet for a week or so. Finding out the harmful ingredient should be done gradually and may take a few weeks. When you know what it is, remove it from the dog’s diet immediately. Rotate two or three hypoallergenic diets throughout the year to reduce the chances of your dog acquiring new allergies.

There are some precautions you can use to prevent acquired canine skin diseases. A good diet (without chemicals and preservatives), regular skin care and grooming and daily exercise will do wonders. Supplements that have fish oil, cod liver oil, yeast and vitamins C and E have also been proven very helpful in improving skin problems in dogs.

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