Dogs are vulnerable to a variety of skin problems. Because their skin is not always visible, it may be difficult to spot a problem until it has progressed.
For this reason, it is important not to ignore symptoms, such as itching and redness, and to seek treatment at the first sign of a problem.
Below are some examples of common types of dog skin problems.
Bacterial skin infections in dogs produce itchy, yellow patches. As the condition progresses, the skin may show red spots, ulcers and hair loss. In more advanced stages, the affected areas may give off a foul odor.
The vet will usually be able to tell if a dog has a bacterial infection by conducting a visual examination.
However, because the condition is almost always the result of another medical problem, such as allergies, the presence of parasites or immune system problems, further testing will likely be required.
Treating a bacterial infection usually involves using an antibacterial shampoo as well as oral medications. You will likely need to keep the problem areas covered up and take measures to prevent the dog from licking the infected areas.
While ringworm is most common in young dogs, the problem can occur at any age. Ringworm is a fungal infection.
Signs of this type of skin problem include hair loss that occurs in round patches. It is important to treat ringworm at the first sign as it contagious both to other animals and to humans.
If you suspect that your pet has ringworm, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after touching the dog. If a pet is diagnosed with ringworm, you should have any other pets in your home tested for the skin problem as well.
Treatment includes topical treatments such as the use of special shampoos which contain anti-fungal ingredients.
Fleas are the most common parasitic cause of dog skin problems. Ticks, mites and lice are some of the others.
Mites can cause mange which leads to excessive scratching and lesions on the skin. Mange is usually diagnosed through a visual exam by a vet, but he will probably conduct further tests in order to determine the type of parasite that caused the mange.
Treatment includes washing with special shampoos. Also, the dog will need to be treated for mites on an ongoing basis to minimize the chance of a recurrence of the mange.
Other types of parasites, such as fleas and ticks, and the problems that they cause can be avoided by applying a topical insecticide on a regular basis.
Some dogs can develop an allergy to fleas which can cause skin problems and ticks can cause all types of medical problems. Keeping your dog free from those parasites should be a priority.
Another fairly common cause of dog skin problems are allergies. This includes allergies to environmental factors and food allergies.
If your vet suspects a food allergy, there is a method of diagnosis in which you will isolate each food that your dog eats and feed him only one thing at a time until the problematic food is discovered.
No dog skin problems should be ignored. The sooner that you can get your pet to the vet, get the problem diagnosed and start treatment, the less the chance there will be for complications.