Skin problems are common in dogs. From minor itchiness and irritation to infections and other serious complications, many dogs will experience some type of skin condition during their life. If you are looking for information about dog skin issues, we are glad you found us! While we encourage you to speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet’s symptoms, we’ve created this resource to provide accurate, trustworthy information about dog dermatology.
If you are looking for a veterinarian in Miami, FL, we’d love to help! Just reach out to us at (305) 842-3228 to schedule your canine companion's appointment.
What causes skin problems in dogs?
Allergies are the most common cause of skin problems in dogs, but there are several other potential causes, too.
Skin problems in dogs have several causes, including:
- Thyroid issues
Are dermatology issues painful for my dog?
Dermatology issues are not always painful, but they certainly can be. Even when they aren’t painful, they often cause discomfort for your dog. At the very least, most skin problems cause itchiness, and your dog’s non-stop scratching will likely lead to pain and irritation.
What are some signs and symptoms that my dog may have a skin condition?
If your dog is scratching excessively, they are likely experiencing some type of skin condition. There are a few other symptoms to watch for, as well.
Common symptoms of skin conditions in dogs include:
- Hair loss
- Skin lesions
- Raised bumps on the skin
- Ear infections
- Diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues
What tests will you perform to diagnose my dog's skin condition?
Performing a physical exam is our first step when diagnosing dog skin conditions. In some cases — like flea infestations — this exam tells us everything we need to know. However, we may recommend various tests to diagnose the problem in other situations.
We may need to do skin cytology, also known as a skin scrape. As the name indicates, this involves scraping the skin’s surface with a dull blade. The process removes flakes, which we place on a slide and examine under a microscope. This test allows us to look for parasites in the skin, including mange, sarcoptic mange, and demodectic mange.
In addition, we may examine your dog’s ears and take a wax sample to examine under a microscope. In some cases, we pluck hairs to check for things like ringworm. We will take the time to explain any diagnostic tests we recommend to help you understand how they will aid us in determining the cause of your dog’s skin problems.
What are some common skin problems in dogs, and how are they treated?
Allergies and allergic dermatitis are the most common skin problems in dogs, and they can cause both skin and ear infections. However, dogs can suffer from several other dermatological issues as well.
The most common skin problems in dogs include:
- Allergic dermatitis
- Ear mites
- Staph infections
- Yeast infections of the skin or ears
- Demodectic mange
- Sarcoptic mange
- Skin problems brought on by autoimmune diseases, including lupus and pemphigus
Treatment for skin problems varies depending on the underlying cause. We may recommend treatment for parasites, antibiotics, or other treatment modalities. Because treatment methods vary, seeing a veterinarian is crucial. Skin problems are not something you can treat at home.
What is the difference between atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis occurs as a result of exposure to environmental allergens. If, for example, your dog is allergic to pollen, they may develop red, itchy skin in the spring due to breathing in pollen.
Contact dermatitis occurs when a dog touches something they are allergic to. Instead of causing widespread skin problems, a rash typically only occurs in the localized area exposed to the allergen.
What are curable versus incurable skin problems in dogs?
Curable skin conditions include staph infections, bacterial infections, and parasites. They are not chronic, and we can resolve them with proper treatment. Even certain masses and cancers are curable if we can remove them.
Skin conditions caused by autoimmune diseases are often incurable. However, we usually can manage them. Allergies are also incurable, but like autoimmune diseases, they are treatable. If your dog has an incurable skin problem, you will need to manage the issue throughout their life to prevent discomfort and further complications, such as secondary infections.
What if my dog’s skin problems go untreated?
Without treatment, your dog’s skin problem will get worse. Your canine companion will grow increasingly uncomfortable and more likely to experience pain. Secondary infections will likely develop and worsen. Your dog could lose weight or become increasingly unwell. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the worse the problem will likely become.
When you do see a veterinarian, your dog’s skin problem will be more challenging to treat than if you had sought treatment at the first sign of symptoms. Treatment will take longer and require a more significant financial investment. And if you never seek treatment for your dog’s skin problems, your canine companion will likely be in agony.
Don't hesitate to contact us for additional information about dog dermatology and skin conditions. You can reach us by calling (305) 842-3228.