Your dog’s skin is a window into their overall health. Some common skin problems are easily remedied; others should be treated carefully by a veterinarian.
Which canine skin issues should you be aware of?
1. Itchy Skin
Itchy skin can be caused by a wide variety of factors. Generally, itchy skin is a product of dermatitis, which is a general term that covers a lot of skin conditions, from too dry to too oozy. Itchy skin in dogs is most often attributed to either environmental factors (detergent; pollen) or nutritional deficiencies. Either are relatively simple fixes, but any changes to your dog’s diet – even if that just means adding supplements – should be run by your veterinarian first. Fleas and/or mite infestations can also result in extremely itchy skin. Treatment for those issues should be more comprehensive.
2. Bacterial Infections
Yuck…that sounds pretty dramatic? Yes and no. Bacterial infections can result in obvious, pus-filled spots on your dog’s skin or they could manifest in alopecia (patches of baldness) or simple dandruff. The problem is that bacterial infections, easy to pick up through contact with dozens of common bacteria, are persistent. Chronic skin concerns in the same general areas should be swabbed and diagnosed by a veterinarian who will likely prescribe antibiotic treatment.
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3. Hot Spots
What is a hot spot? It’s basically a patch of skin that becomes inflamed, red, and raw through consistent exposure to moisture. You know a hot spot when you see one. The most common placements for hot spots are in dogs’ crevices, such as underneath their tails or within the folds of their necks. Hot spots kept dry sometimes go away on their own but chronic hot spots could indicate something internal, such as a food sensitivity and should be evaluated by a vet.
Flaky skin in dogs is usually a sign of something deeper. It’s often an indication your dog is lacking some essential nutrient, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements or a diet specifically formulated towards skin issues can help. It’s possible that flaky skin is being caused by too many baths, or a shampoo that’s too abrasive. Sometimes getting your dog on a more consistent grooming regimen of daily brushes can help redistribute their skin’s oil, righting the issue.
5. Ear Infections
Wait, ear infections? Isn’t this an article about skin conditions? If your dog suffers from frequent ear infections, there’s a chance the skin inside their ear is actually the problem. Inflamed, swollen skin can cause the ear canal to narrow, trapping dirt and even bacteria inside. A dog who has chronic ear infections (or, worse, one ongoing ear infection) should be evaluated for skin conditions as well as food sensitivities.