Skin problems are extremely hard to identify because the problem may be caused by an external entity or an internal disease. Externally, your dog’s skin comes into contact with all kinds of foreign bodies that can negatively affect his skin; internally, to rid itself of toxin, the body excretes the toxins by way of the skin, so a rash or sore may be sign of a greater problem. Often the process of discovering the origin of a skin disease involves the one-by-one elimination of other skin disorders. The list of skin disorders, below, is by no means a comprehensive list; however, the more knowledge you have about the multitude of skin problems, the more helpful you can be to your veterinarian if your dog develops a skin disorder.
Atopic Dermatitis: allergy to common environmental inhalants and substances; caused by airborne allergy, such as mold, pollen, or dust, and contact with toxic, such as pesticides, or foreign substances (especially for dogs that swim or play in grassy/woodsy areas); signs include licking and chewing on paws, scratching the face (specifically the eyes and ears), scratching, hair loss, and skin irritation; example is hot spots.
Nutritional Deficiency/Food Allergy: not receiving enough nutrients needed by the body to function correctly, or receiving foods that dog is allergic to; treat both by sampling new dog foods; improve nutrition by supplementing normal dog food with vitamins and Omega Fatty Acids.
- Fleas and ticks
- Deer flies
- Cheyletiella mites (look like dandruff)
- Sarcoptic mites (look like scabies)
- Demodex mites- also known as mange; live under the skin’s surface in hair follicles and oil glands; common in young dogs; if found in adult dogs, possible cause is stress from disease, poor nutrition, immune disorders, or severe environment; sign is patchy hair loss.
Infectious Dermatitis: bacterial infection causing a sticky, inflamed skin lesion; signs include continual licking, biting, scratching, and hair loss; transferable to other areas of skin through licking and biting; treat by removing hair from area and using either a topical or oral medication (consult your veterinarian about choosing medication).
Microsporum Canis: a fungal infection, also called ringworm, which causes circular patches of hair loss; transferable to other areas of skin; usually does not itch.