10 Terrible Skin Issues In Dogs [When To Seek Help]
Your dog expects you to fly in like a superhero and protect it
from the pain of scratching, licking, and flaking caused by
irritating skin issues. Ignoring a solitary dog rash on leg or
a cluster of blisters on dogs can have serious consequences. As
a responsible pet parent, you need to learn to read the signs
and symptoms and quickly identify different skin issues in
dogs. This article answers basic questions such as when to
worry and rush to the vet’s office.
Visit the Vet’s Office to Rule out Serious Skin
What do you do when you spot that your dog has bumps on skin or
suffering from a nasty rash? The first step is to get a correct
diagnosis by your vet. He or she can tell you if it’s harmless
pigmentation spots on dog skin or something that needs to be
treated right away. Check out these 10 common skin issues in
dogs, and get the scoop on which conditions could be serious.
1. Allergic Dermatitis
Just like people, dogs can be allergic to things like
medicines, shampoos, food, pollen, or bug bites. Also like
people, evidence of the allergy may come in the form of
scratching and an itchy rash. For many pets, the simple
elimination of the allergen will solve the problem.
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common skin condition
in dogs, and it’s the result of an allergic reaction to flea
saliva. When an allergic dog is exposed to flea saliva,
the area will become red, bumpy, and
If you notice scaly or inflamed
circular bald patches on your dog, they may have ringworm
(which isn’t actually a worm, but a fungal infection). The
infection is more commonly found on a dog’s head or legs, but
it can spread to the rest of the body as well. Ringworm is
highly contagious and should be treated immediately to avoid
infecting other pets or people.
Another skin issue that can cause scaly, bald patches on your
dog is mange, typically affecting areas around the dog’s ears,
belly, and chest -- although it can appear anywhere on your
dog’s body. Mange is caused by an overabundance of mites, or
when a dog comes in contact with an invasive species of mite.
Click here to read about two types
Contact your vet
immediately if you see symptoms of Walking Dandruff
(Cheyletiellosis), a mild but highly contagious condition
characterized by dandruff that appears to move on your dog’s
body, caused by mites carrying flakes of your dog’s skin.
A bacterial infection of the skin resulting in a presence of
pus is called pyoderma. If your
dog has an underlying skin condition that causes them to
scratch, the scratched skin can become home to a bacterial
infection. Your dog may scratch their skin due to any of the
5. Yeast Infection (Malassezia Dermatitis)
Symptoms of a yeast infection on
your dog include itchy, irritated skin, commonly around the
ears or toes. While yeast dermatitis is not contagious, your
dog should be treated to cure the condition and to restore
their comfort. Depending on the severity of the infection, it
can be treated topically with a shampoo or cream, via an oral
medication, or a combination of these treatments.
If your dog has a wound that just won’t heal, this could be a
symptom of cancer. It’s more
treatable when caught early, so take your dog to see the vet if
you notice your dog has a wound that doesn’t heal in a normal
amount of time. Other signs of canine cancer include lumps,
tumors, lameness, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Most common in puppies, impetigo is a bacterial infection that
causes pus-filled blisters that may break and crust over,
typically on the hairless lower belly. It’s not usually
serious, and is treated easily with a topical cream.
8. Acral Lick Dermatitis
High energy breeds are more prone to
acral lick dermatitis, or lick granuloma. This is a
self-inflicted injury caused by obsessive licking of a leg or
foot that results in hair loss and redness, or even an open
sore. Obsessive licking is an anxiety-related behavior that
could be a result of boredom or inactivity, separation anxiety,
lack of socialization, past cruelty, or other stress.
It’s possible that your dog’s vet could prescribe an
anti-anxiety medication to help your dog stop injuring
themselves while you make changes to your pet’s routine or
9. Hot Spots
A hot spot is a painful, circular patch of red, swollen skin,
typically 1-4 inches across. A hot spot my ooze with pus or a
watery discharge, may have an unpleasant odor, and you may
notice hair loss on and around affected area. Hot spots are
extremely painful, and your dog may react with fear or
aggression when approached.
Hot spots are caused when your pet excessively licks, bites, or
scratches their skin due to an underlying condition. Because
hot spots are so painful, your vet may need to sedate your dog
in order to administer treatment. While all animals can suffer
from hot spots, pets with long hair or heavy coats are more
Dandruff, or flaky skin, is a
common symptom of skin issues of varying types. The most common
causes include a cold or dry climate, grooming, or diet.
However, pet dandruff can also be a sign of a more serious
concern, like a hormonal imbalance or parasites. If your dog’s
dandruff is chronic or severe, then they should be examined by
a veterinarian to determine the cause and treatment.
The Top 8 Causes Of Dog Skin Allergies
If you’ve noticed your dog doing an unusual amount
of itching, licking, or
scratching, allergies may be to blame. Many vets
report skin allergies as a top reason they see dogs. Allergies
can affect dogs of all breeds and sizes and they can be
hereditary or appear suddenly.
Inflamed, itchy, red, or scaly skin can be a sign of an
allergic reaction. Abnormalities in a dog’s coat or skin should
be a cause for concern, as they can indicate discomfort or an
underlying health problem. Your vet will perform
a full examination to
determine if allergies are affecting your pup’s wellness.
Here are the 8 most common causes of dog skin allergies:
1. Seasonal Allergies
Common allergens like pollen, dust, grass, trees, mold, and
weeds that affect humans seasonally can also affect dogs and
their skin. Sensitivity to grass pollens (often misidentified
as a grass allergy) is
surprisingly common among dogs. Regular cleaning of paws,
baths, and air purifiers can help lower incidences of seasonal
2. Food Allergies
Food allergies or intolerance
have unfortunately become very common in dogs. They can
manifest suddenly, affecting your dog’s skin and digestion.
Beef, soy, dairy,
and wheat are common
allergens. Exclusively feeding your dog a hypoallergenic food for several
weeks can help unmask a food allergy.
If your dog has a history of sensitive skin, consider switching to
a hypoallergenic soap or
shampoo as a proactive measure. A dog’s skin may react
to insecticides or
anti-flea chemicals in specialty shampoos. Also, never use your
own hair products to groom a dog and only use products intended
specifically for dogs.
Saliva from even one or two flea
bites can trigger an allergic reaction on your dog’s
skin. Flea allergy
dermatitis causes red, bumpy lesions that can be very
uncomfortable for the dog and require medical intervention.
5. Chemical Contact
Things like household cleaning
products and detergents can occasionally cause
allergic reactions when they come into contact with a dog’s
skin. Harsh carpet cleaners are one of the more common causes
of a contact allergy indoors. Be cautious when applying
chemicals anywhere your dog might step on or rub against.
Antibiotics and vaccinations
can sometimes cause a skin reaction in the form of hives. The
hives often disappear within 24 hours of exposure to an
allergen or medication, but if they do not, contact your vet.
Your dog’s bed could be contributing to a skin allergy. Fabrics
like wool can cause itchy reactions for dogs. Choose
hypoallergenic fabrics and keep bedding clean to avoid any
triggers. Also remember to check labels because fillings like
feathers can be allergens, too.
8. Bacterial hypersensitivity
An underlying condition like hypothyroidism can make your dog’s
skin overly sensitive to a regular amount of staph on their
If allergies are behind your dog’s discomfort, your vet will
help you determine a management and treatment plan. It may
include environmental control, immunotherapy, regular bathing
and foot washing, antihistamines, or a new diet. With some
extra care, your dog’s skin and coat can be healthy and bright
More on Dog Skin Health
DIY Dry Skin Treatment (And Handy
14 Of The Best
Dog Shampoos For Any Situation
Pruritus Causes: Cats And Dogs