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Dog Skin Care

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is very vulnerable to injury and disease. From parasites to bacteria, hormonal changes to allergens, the skin is affected by a variety of potential threats and has a big job to do to protect your pet. Here are some of the more common skin issues seen in dogs.

What are the causes, symptoms & diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

Bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) is an overgrowth of bacteria on the skin and can be smelly, itchy, and painful. Bacterial skin infections can develop from a variety of sources that irritate the skin such as allergies, abrasions, chronic moist skin, excessive licking/chewing, scratching or mites. Medical treatment may be required to prevent the infection from spreading further. Dog with deep wrinkles such as bulldogs and Sharpeis may also get bacterial skin infections in their skin folds. Pets with bacterial skin infections may have red irritated skin, a moist yellow/green discharge, hair loss, itchiness, crusty skin or small raised lesions. Your pet will need to be examined by a vet to determine the cause of the bacterial skin infection and to obtain the appropriate treatment. Your veterinarian may perform a culture to determine the best course of treatment and possible further diagnostics if the skin infections are reoccurring.

What are the causes, symptoms and treatment for ringworm?

Ringworm, despite its name, is not a worm at all. It is actually a fungal infection that is contagious to people, cats and other dogs and even other mammals such as ferrets. Your pet may have ringworm if there are circular patches of hairless skin, itchiness, raw/reddened or darkened skin or dandruff/crusts. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment for your pet and may include topical (baths/solutions) or systemic (oral medications).

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Allergy problems in dogs and cats can be frustrating. Some pets have problems occasionally or at certain times of the year, while others have problems continually. Pets may be allergic to dust mites, pollens, molds, fleas, grasses, trees, wool, tobacco smoke, or certain foods. The main signs of allergies are scratching and chewing the skin, particularly the paws, face, abdomen, and other areas that are easily accessible. The scratching and chewing damage the skin and predisposes it to bacterial skin infections. In some animals with allergies, the only symptom is continual ear infections, typically with yeast. The best treatment for allergy problems is to determine the cause of the allergy and avoid it. However, it is not always easy to determine the agent responsible for your pet’s itchiness. When avoidance does not work, drug therapy is available. This consists of antihistamines, immunosuppressive, essential fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids).

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

There are many parasites that affect the skin. Examples of skin parasites are mites such as demodectic and sarcoptic mange, lice, fleas, ticks and more! Your veterinarian will be able to do a skin scraping to determine if or which parasite is causing your pet grief and will be able to offer the appropriate treatment.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

Sometimes, pets may have a hormonal imbalance that may cause hair loss and thinning or brittle hair. Either producing too much or too little of certain hormones can result in hormonal skin diseases. Your pet will likely be showing other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance if the skin issues are secondary to a hormonal imbalance. Further diagnostics would be required to determine where the imbalance lies.

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