The skin is the largest organ in the body and is particularly exposed to external aggression. Skin problems (called dermatoses) are therefore common and are a frequent reason for veterinary consultations. They can have different causes, but it is important to know that most skin problems can be cured.
What are the symptoms of skin diseases in dogs? How can they be relieved? We tell you everything!
The different types of skin diseases in dogs
Skin problems can manifest themselves in impressive ways, but they are usually not very serious. With proper treatment, most skin diseases can be cured.
Skin problems can have different origins:
- Infectious: these are skin infections, known as pyoderma. They are caused by bacteria that have entered the body through a wound.
- Parasitic: External parasites, such as dust mites, can cause skin diseases, such as sarcoptic mange.
- Allergic: Allergy is caused by an exaggerated response of the immune system to a substance called an allergen. The allergen may be a food or an external agent (such as pollen). Allergy can also be caused by the bite of a parasite, such as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). Finally, the use of an unsuitable product can also trigger a so-called contact allergy.
- Fungal: the presence of fungi on a dog's body is completely normal. However, if there are too many of them, this can lead to skin problems such as ringworm, a highly contagious disease.
- Genetics: some breeds of dog are predisposed to developing skin conditions. This is particularly true of the Labrador or Cocker Spaniel, which are predisposed to seborrhoea (excessive sebum production).
- Dietary deficiencies: a poorly balanced diet has consequences for your dog's health, particularly for his skin. For example, he may develop a dermatosis that is improved by zinc.
How do you spot a skin problem in your dog?
The different skin conditions your dog may have usually have fairly similar symptoms.
Here are the main ones:
- Pruritus (itching): your dog scratches insistently and all over his body. He may also lick or even bite his skin. The itching is uncomfortable and your dog may create skin lesions as a result of scratching.
- Dandruff (flakes): It's nothing to worry about if your dog has dandruff from time to time. But if it doesn't go away or if it covers the whole body, this is not normal and may indicate a skin problem.
- Ear infections: frequent ear infections can be a sign of atopic dermatitis (especially if it is caused by a food allergy).
- alopecia: skin diseases often lead to localised hair loss.
- other possible symptoms: scabs, irritation, rash, redness, or discolouration of the skin.
How to treat your dog's skin problems?
The first thing to do is to look for the cause of your pet's skin problem. If the problem is due to the presence of a parasite (flea, tick), it will be easy to identify and treat it. An effective anti-parasite treatment will remove the cause and relieve your pet.
If you are unable to identify the cause of the skin condition, or if the parasite treatment has not helped your dog regain healthy skin, then you should consult your vet to find out more. Don't wait, as skin problems can get worse.
In the case of infectious dermatitis, the vet will prescribe antibiotic or antifungal treatment.
Itching may also be relieved by treatment with corticosteroids.
If the skin problem is caused by an allergy, it will be necessary to identify the allergen in question with an allergological assessment. Then, the treatment may include desensitisation (allergen immunotherapy), if exposure to the allergen is not avoidable. In the case of food allergy, the avoidance diet will allow your four-legged friend to regain normal skin.
Tips for preventing skin problems in dogs
It is possible to limit the onset of dermatitis with a few simple steps.
First of all, avoid washing your dog too frequently, and only use products that are suitable for dogs. Brush your dog's fur regularly to remove dead hair.
If your canine companion has skin folds, such as a Shar-Pei or Bulldog, the skin between the folds should be cleaned regularly to avoid maceration.
To help your dog keep his skin healthy and his coat shiny, a food supplement with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and vitamin E can be useful, especially if he has dry skin. Zinc can also be beneficial.
How do you care for your pet's skin and coat? Feel free to share your tips in comments