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Dog Skin Care

Skin care is not something most new dog owners consider before bringing a dog into their home. Skin disease (which includes the dog’s ears) is a source of severe irritation for dogs and dog owners. Dogs do have naturally occurring oils that help protect and condition the fur. Baths done too frequently can strip these oils and cause dryness to the skin and coat in healthy dogs. Allergies usually manifest on the dog’s skin, unlike humans who most commonly have respiratory symptoms (i.e., sneezing, watery eyes). Dogs who swim are at risk of getting water in their ears which are a major cause of ear infections. Unfortunately, whatever the cause of the skin disease, the symptoms typically all look the same. Treatment for each skin disease depends on the underlying cause and once that has been established, our veterinarians can formulate a specific treatment plan.

What are the causes, symptoms & treatment of bacterial skin infections?

Most bacterial skin infections are secondary to another skin disease. For example, a dog may have allergies which irritate the skin and then bacteria thrive on the irritated skin surface. Bacterial skin infections usually cause redness, itchiness, foul smell and discharge from the skin. “Hot Spots” are a common primary bacterial infection that we see most commonly during our hot, humid summers. Hot spots start as a small irritation on the skin which quickly spread over the surface of the skin. Hot spots are very smelly, with lots of gooey discharge at the site of the lesion and they are quite painful for the dog. Some breeds, like Golden Retrievers, are prone to developing hot spots. Treatment for these involves shaving the area, keeping the area dry, anti-inflammatory creams and antibiotics. The use of Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3/6) helps to reduce the incidence of hot spots in dogs.

What are the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworm?

The classic symptom of Ringworm is circular skin lesions that are red, raised, and irritated looking. However, the name is misleading because Ringworm is not a worm and the lesions are not always ring-shaped. Ringworm is a fungal skin infection. It is very contagious to other pets and to people too. The fungus likes to attach and feed on the hair follicles which causes hair loss to the areas. As the fungus multiplies, more and more lesions form. Treatment for ringworm typically involves an antifungal medication (sometimes oral or topical or both – depending on the severity of the disease). Environment disinfection is also required because the microscopic fungal spores are spread through contact. If you suspect your dog has Ringworm, please call our hospital as soon as possible for recommendations.

What are the causes and treatment for allergic skin diseases?

Allergic skin disease can be caused by an allergy to food or inhaled allergens. Environment allergies can also be manifested on the dog’s skin. If your dog has a food allergy, the usual culprit is the protein source (such as a chicken allergy). There are diets designed for dogs who have food allergies. Inhaled or environment allergens are more difficult to deal with because unless the owner is willing to move, the dog will have continued contact with the things that are causing the problem. Some inhaled or environmental allergies are seasonal (usually seen in spring and summer) but some dogs can be allergic to household plants or dust in the house. Our veterinarians can help by formulating a treatment plan that will help to meet your dog’s specific needs.

What are the causes and treatments for parasitic skin diseases?

There are many parasites that can cause skin diseases in dogs. The most common include flea allergy and manage. Some dogs are allergic to the bite given by the flea and can have quite a severe skin reaction as a result. There are two main types of mange that can affect dogs. Sarcoptic mange (also known as scabies) is a contagious skin parasite. The scabies mite burrows through the skin which results in severe irritation and inflammation of the skin. The other type of mange is Demodectic mange (also known as Demodex). The Demodex mite is considered naturally occurring in the skin of the dog and it is not usually a troublemaker. Sometimes the mite population bloom to large numbers and the dog will start to show symptoms of hair loss and itchiness. There are also other types of parasitic skin disease so if you suspect your pet has a problem, please contact our hospital to discuss your next step.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

Hormones play an important role in maintaining a healthy skin coat. There are several skin disorders that can occur due to an imbalance in the internal endocrine system. One of the most common imbalances is Hypothyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone which results in weight gain, hair loss, and poor hair regrowth. Hypothyroid dogs can also have thickened skin and scaly patches on their skin. Another common disorder is Hypoadrenocorticism (also known as Cushing’s disease). Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands in the body and it can cause hair loss, severe dandruff, and pigmented skin to name a few symptoms. There are many other hormonal skin diseases so if you suspect your dog may have a problem, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

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