Common skin diseases in dogs

A dog’s skin can be particularly sensitive to environmental factors. A change in your dog’s skin surface may be a sign of infection or other ailment, or even be an early indication of an internal disease. Itchiness, flaky skin, or eczema are common skin diseases in dogs that should be treated quickly. Symptoms of skin disease are usually very noticeable since they affect your pet’s general appearance.  At least 3 out of every 10 veterinary visits are related to skin issues.

Skin parasites

Parasites of the skin are very common in dogs. Fleas, lice, and mites can make your dog very itchy and can have a negative impact on your pet’s skin.

Allergies that affect the skin

Particularly common in dogs, allergies that affect the skin are usually due to the environment and pollen. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to be affected, and your veterinarian can give you more details.

Skin tumours

Tumours (whether benign or cancerous) can easily be noticed on the skin as a strange growth. There are many different types of tumours, depending on the tissue and cells from which they originate.

Bacterial infections of the skin

Bacterial infections (dermatitis) are caused by damage to the sensitive ecosystem of the skin: when bacteria and germs that normally live on the surface are able to cross the skin barrier and then multiply, leading to an infection. A pyodermatitis (an infection with presence of pus, commonly known as a “hot spot”) are some of the most common skin ailments seen in dogs.

Endocrine disorders

Hormones can sometimes have an effect on a dog’s skin and coat. It is therefore sometimes possible to notice physical changes related to a hormonal imbalance.

Congenital and genetic skin diseases

These diseases can be very serious, but are usually also very rare. Lethal acrodermatitis is Bull Terriers, for example, can be fatal in affected puppies.

How can I tell if my dog has a skin disease?

The best way to determine if your dog is suffering from a skin disease is to visit your veterinarian. The veterinarian will observe the symptoms, any skin lesions and the affected regions on your pet’s body, as well as how this relates to your dog’s lifestyle. Your observations will also play a role in the treatment. The more details you can provide as to the onset of the problem, and any at-home treatments you may have tried, the easier it will be for the veterinarian to treat your pet. The vet may need to perform a few tests to check for signs of infection or parasites.

Solutions and treatment

Once the skin disease has been identified, the veterinarian will prepare a treatment plan. Treatment may consist of a cream or lotion to apply on the lesions, or a therapeutic shampoo. In most cases, treatment requires the administration of oral medications adapted to your pet’s weight and breed. In the case of allergies and other chronic conditions, the treatment plan will need to be adapted to each patient’s particular environment and situation. Surgery may be required to treat a large wound, to drain an abscess, or to remove a tumour.

Many other factors, including stress and sun exposure, may be associated with various skin diseases in dogs. If the problem appears suddenly, consider if there have been any recent changes to your dog’s routine in the few days preceding the onset of symptoms. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian whenever you notice changes to your dog’s skin.