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 or Fish Oil.


* Fleas and ticks
* Chiggers
* Deer flies
* Gnats
* 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.

Malassezia Pachydermatitis (yeast): inflamed and environmentally stressed skin; causes itching, low grade inflammation of the ear, and greasy, odorous skin.

Dermatomyositis: inflammation of skin and muscle caused by a defect in the immune system; believed to be hereditary, but is normally outgrown by one year of age; signs include skin lesions, redness, hair loss, blisters/bumps, crusting, and possibly ulcers; the most affected areas are bony prominences (tip of the tail, toes, elbows, and wrists) and the face; can cause weakness, lethargy, or underdevelopment of muscles.

Discoid Lupus: the body cannot distinguish foreign antigens from its own cells, so the body may build antibodies that injures itself; cause is unknown; signs include loss of pigment around nose and development of sores on nose that may eventually spread up the bridge of the nose; sores worsened by ultraviolet light (sunlight).

Remember, a sore or skin problem may be sign of a deeper problem, such as disease in an organ or a hereditary illness. If your dog is having skin problems, take him/her to your veterinarian immediately.