Skin diseases are common among dogs and are often caused by some underlying problem like bacteria, parasites (internal like worms or external like fleas), fungi, or hormonal problems. Other causes might include poisons or toxins, like household cleaners or pesticides, or tumors, which can be more common in older dogs.
Signs of Skin Diseases
Yellow pustules and crusty skin can be a sign of a bacterial infection. Hair loss and ulcerations might also be seen. Most often such problems are seen on the chin, behind the elbows, on the stomach or between the dog’s toes.
Ringworm, a common skin infection that can affect animals and people, shows signs of circular patches of missing hair. The infection is more common on the dog’s legs and head, but it can spread over the rest of his body.
A skin allergy may be causing the dog’s discomfort, and signs of a flea allergy might include constant biting of an area, flea “dirt” (little black spots of blood), red and inflamed skin. Contact skin allergies, when the dog is allergic to something his body comes in contact with, would be on the areas of contact. For example, the dog’s feet or belly.
Mange is another skin disease that can cause crusting and hair loss. It normally affects the areas around the dog’s ears, belly and chest.
Ear mites can cause a dog to scratch his ears so intently that he losses the hair behind them.
Hormonal imbalances can cause hair loss, but the signs can be somewhat different than other skin diseases; with hormonal problems, the hair loss is usually uniformly around the body.
Treatment for skin problems typically begins with getting a correct diagnosis. Your veterinarian will observe the signs and run tests to determine the cause of your dog’s discomfort. Tests might include skin scrapings and blood work.
Once the underlying cause of the skin problem is determined, your dog can be treated. Treatment might include dips or specially medicated shampoos (for fleas or mange), antibiotics (for infections), antihistamines and steroids (for allergies) antifungals (for ringworm), removal of the offending allergen (like a cleaning solution) or a change in diet (for food allergies, for example, to corn or beef).
Determining the source of the dog’s problem may take some time, but if you are observant of your dog’s health and diligent in treating the issue, what might be a chronic condition for your dog can be controlled successfully.
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