Common Skin Conditions, Diagnoses, and Treatments in Dogs

Posted on
November 17, 2018

Our furry best friends are sensitive in many ways. They pick up on our emotions and are capable of unconditional love that rivals that of humans. Man’s best friends are physically sensitive too! We take care of our pets by loving them and treating them with kindness and respect, but we also have to take care of their bodies. You can do that by keeping Fauna Care’s line of sprays on deck, just in case you think your dog could be suffering from a skin condition. It helps to know causes and signs of particular symptoms, and we suggest you call your vet immediately if you think your pet is suffering. In this article we’ll talk about:

  • Dermatitis
  • Mites
  • Hives
  • Ringworm

Dermatitis

Dogs develop allergies just as people do. They can be allergic to pollen, dander, plants, insects; as well as some foods and medications. Allergies can cause itching and scratching, can lead to rashes, skin inflammation, and chewing of the paws. Sometimes dogs develop dermatitis, a skin condition that may be caused by allergies.

Dermatitis could be brought on by things like grass, spores, or dust mites, as well as other things in the environment. Your dog may inherit the traits to be susceptible to dust mites, causing it to develop earlier. Dogs typically develop the disease between 3 months and 6 years. Areas affected by the disease can be the ears, wrists, muzzle, crevices like under the arms, groin, around the eyes and between toes. Your dog may show signs of:

  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Rubbing
  • Licking; all in the associated areas where dermatitis may occur
dermatitis on a dog's stomach
Reddened areas show dermatitis. Image courtesy of AnimalWised

If you think your dog has dermatitis, take them to the vet and provide a complete medical history, if you have one. The veterinarian may perform serologic allergy testing. Treatment could involve allergen immunotherapy, in which allergens are injected under the skin to relieve symptoms long-term. Corticosteroids and antihistamines are medicines given to control symptoms like itching. 

Mites

Mites (Cheyletiella) are a highly contagious skin parasite that feeds on the outer layer of the dog’s skin. It is quite similar to flea infestation, and can be transferred to humans. The mite maneuvers beneath the keratin layer of the skin, pushing up flakes that appear like dandruff, and causing moderate irritation in the dog.

diagram of mites on dog's skin
Diagram showing Cheyletiella’s actions on the dog’s skin. Image courtesy of freegood.info

Mites can result from contact with other animals, like a stay in an animal shelter, breeder, groomers, or kennel. It can also be reinfested through improperly cleaned bedding or housing for the dog after a previous infection. Symptoms include:

  • Alopecia
  • Excessive scratching
  • Skin flakes and irritation
  • You may see the yellow skin mite upon close examination

Mites can be diagnosed by your veterinarian by sampling the skin. The mites are visible with a magnifying glass. They can also be found in the dog’s stool as they are often ingested during self-grooming. If mites are found, then all animals in the house must be treated, including cats. Long-coated dogs must be clipped to a short length. The pets must be bathed every day in order to remove the skin scales. Your pet may be treated with insecticide, lime-sulfur rinses, or oral medications. 

Hives

A common allergic reaction in dogs is hives. Just like humans, if your system comes in contact with a certain allergen it will go into a hypersensitive state. The condition is not life-threatening but nonetheless should be treated as soon as possible. If hives are left untreated they can lead to the closing of the the throat. Additionally, the longer the condition is left untreated, the more your dog will scratch and cause damage to their skin.

Hives and swelling of the face can be caused by insect bites, rabies or Bordetella vaccinations (following injection), food allergies, chemicals like insecticides, poisonous plants, and a number of other allergens your dog could be sensitive to. The signs and symptoms vary from dog to dog, depending on how sensitive they are to the allergen. They may include:

  • Redness and/or swelling around face, abdomen, legs, muzzle, and eyes
  • Circular bumps
  • Excessive scratching
  • Drooling related the swelling of the muzzle
hives on dog's head
Pictured are the bumpy hives caused by a number of allergic reactions. Image courtesy of Dogs-Resources

Hives are typically treated with antihistamines such as Benadryl or steroids. Doses will vary depending on the severity of the hives. It is also common for the condition to relieve itself after 24 or 72 hours, but it is still recommended that you treat your dog with medicine. You can also soothe the skin with ice or a cold wet towel.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect the skin, fur, and claws. The disease can occur in both dogs and cats, other animals, and people, and can be transmitted from one species to another.

The condition is caused by different fungi that can vary by geographic region. It can be acquired through direct contact with other infected animals or people. Ringworm can also be passed via contact with any contaminated object like bedding, housing, and brushes; or with soil in which the fungi associated with ringworm live. The risk of infection is increased by having an immune system compromising disease and residing in a kennel or shelter where contact between animals is frequent. If your dog has open wounds, the risk of infection is increased. Protect your dog’s wounds with Fauna Care’s line of wound sprays. Signs of ringworm include:

  • Alopecia (may be circular, hence ringworm)
  • Broken or poor hair
  • Redness or darkening of the skin
  • Dandruff, crusting skin, itchiness
ringworm on a dog
Pictured is the circular loss of hair caused by ringworm infection. Image courtesy of Top Dog Tips

In order to diagnose ringworm, your veterinarian with sample hair or skin under a microscope. Your pet can be treated at home but be sure to quarantine them from other pets and people to prevent spread. Mild cases are treated with topical treatments like sulfur dips and miconazole shampoos. Your veterinarian may prescribe oral drugs like conazoles. Treatment usually must last a few months without interruption, with follow up tests to make sure the fungus is gone. 

Once again, we encourage that you call your vet immediately if you believe your pet is suffering from any of the above conditions! Our aim at Fauna Care is to provide you with the knowledge and tools to best care for your pet, from one animal lover to another.

Posted on
September 12, 2018
in
Advice
category