Skin diseases in dogs
Skin problems are often the most common reasons dogs are taken to a vet.  In dogs, skin disorders could result due to a plethora of reasons including infectious causes, parasites, allergies, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases or even psychological factors. While some of these disorders are acute problems others last life times. In general, the condition of a dog’s coat and skin is a proxy indicator of its overall health.  

What are symptoms of potential skin conditions in dogs? 
Depending on the cause and type of the skin condition, some of the following symptoms may be observed in an affected dog:

  • Constant itching
  • Dog chewing at itself creating “hot spots”
  • Inflamed/itchy skin
  • Hair falling out in patches
  • Very dry skin
  • Smelly greasy coat
  • Warts
  • Scabs or crusts
  • Rashes
  • Skin lesions that may discharge blood or pus
  • Sores, bumps or pimples
  • Discharges from ear

What are the most common causes of dog skin disorders?

Infectious causes  

Skin disorders can be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections or parasitic infestations.  Pyoderma is a very common bacterial disease causing localized skin problem.  There is an increased risk of infection in dogs with broken skin due to cuts, wounds or over scratching. Mange, on the other hand, is caused by parasitic mites.  Mange is highly contagious and is commonly caused by your dog’s exposure to another infected animal. Ringworm is yet another example of a fungal skin infection and is more common in younger dogs compared to adult ones.


 A dog can develop allergies just like we human do. Common examples of allergens are pollen, insects, dust, spores fabrics, rubber and plastic materials feathers, or sometimes even food and medication. Some breeds of dogs such as Terriers, Setters, Retrievers or Bulldogs have a higher predisposition to allergic reactions.  Atopic dermatitis is a very common chronic itching condition in dogs associated with allergy. An allergy cannot be cured, but by decreasing your dog’s exposure to the allergen, it can be effectively addressed. Symptomatic treatment can be done to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Metabolic causes

Some skin disorders are associated with hormonal imbalances. For example hypothyroidism is a condition characterised by unhealthy, poor hair coats and hair loss or black skin pigmentation of the skin and alopecia is another skin condition characterised by a loss of hair leading to baldness. Your vet may treat hormonal imbalances in your dog with supplemental therapy to either lower or raise the hormone levels to normal levels.

Autoimmune disorders

 Autoimmune disorders often cause chronic skin conditions. In a dog with an autoimmune disorder, its immune system attacks its own healthy tissues thereby causing deterioration and/or destruction. Canine lupus and pemphigus are examples of autoimmune diseases in dogs in which involve the skin.  Autoimmune disorders require medications that decrease immune system response and other symptoms.

What can I do to prevent skin condition in my dog?

  • Some simple tips can be followed to minimize or avoid skin conditions in your dog.
  • Feed a high quality balanced diet to your dog. A well balanced diet insures that your dog is receiving all the nutrients he needs to maintain a very good health. Maintaining a good health reflects positively on keeping a normally functioning immune system.
  • Keep your pet well-groomed. Routine bathing, brushing and grooming your dog help remove allergens from its skin, distribute oils through the skin and promote a healthy skin.
  • Prevent external parasites such as fleas which can cause significant skin problems.
  • Maintain your dog at a healthy weight since overweight dogs are at a higher risk of skin and hair coat disorders. 

Skin Problems

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