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Dog Skin Problems – 6 Common Skin Conditions in Dogs

beagle puppy scratching at neck

Most dogs suffer from skin issues at some point in their life. Skin issues almost always result in itchiness, which causes the dog to scratch its skin. Not only can this scratching be painful, in many cases, but it can also lead to infections, scars, and even more severe skin issues.

If you want to help relieve your dog’s itchiness and effectively treat the source of its skin irritation, the first step is identifying the particular skin condition. This is why we have provided the following list of six common dog skin problems:

1. Allergic Skin Disease

The most common skin condition in dogs is called allergic skin disease. It is a broad term used to diagnose dogs with skin issues caused by underlying allergies. Dogs that suffer from allergic dermatitis tend to experience severe itchiness.

Dogs with allergies generally have itchy skin over their entire bodies, but certain areas, like the feet and ears, often have heightened levels of itchiness. For this reason, dogs that have allergies tend to lick and chew their feet and frequently scratch at their ears.

In many cases, constant scratching can result in secondary skin inflammation on the feet they use to scratch with. Usually, this will appear as little red bumps between your dog’s toes. Secondary skin inflammation can also occur around the underside of the belly, along with the armpits or the haunches. In some cases, they will also develop ear infections.

2. Parasites

External parasites are also a common skin condition found in dogs. They also happen to be one of the most common causes of excessive itchiness.

The most common parasite that causes itchiness in dogs is fleas. Fleas bite your dog to access its blood for food, which can trigger the release of histamine, which will cause your dog to feel itchy throughout its entire body.

Dogs can also be allergic to the actual flea bite as they can leave saliva behind that can trigger allergic reactions. These flea bite allergies make the itchiness experienced by your dog even worse.

If you suspect that your dog has fleas or a flea allergy, book a virtual veterinary consultation with one of our Hello Ralphie online vets. They can help you choose an effective flea treatment and preventative medication to protect your dog from future flea infections.

Other parasites that cause itchiness in dogs include mites. The most common types of mites are scabies or mange. These parasites tend to cause hair loss, as well as dry, cracked, and brittle-looking skin. Dogs with mite infections are severely itchy.

As with fleas, there are prescription medications that a veterinarian can prescribe to help treat any mite infection that your dog is suffering from.

close up the skin of dog

3. Alopecia

Hair loss is also a common condition diagnosed in dogs. Hair loss, or alopecia as it is also known, is usually described as diffuse, which means all of your dog’s hair has fallen out, and they appear as though they are balding. It can also be focal, meaning that your dog is losing hair only in a certain area of its body.

Alopecia is caused by many factors, including genetic diseases, metabolic diseases, or infectious diseases. Sometimes, nutrient deficiencies can also cause alopecia.

Alopecia can also be self-inflicted by trauma and excessive itching. A Hello Ralphie online veterinary consultation will help you determine if your dog has alopecia. A virtual vet can guide you towards the next steps, including discovering the cause of the alopecia and potential treatments to address the problem.

4. Pyoderma

Pyoderma is the medical term for skin infection, another common skin condition seen by veterinarians in dogs. In most cases, pyoderma is secondary to a primary condition such as allergies or after swimming.

When the dog is very itchy and has excessively scratched its skin, the result can be a secondary skin infection.

If your dog has a long coat and regularly swims in open water, it can suffer from pyoderma, which is especially common in breeds like golden retrievers.

If you suspect your dog could be suffering from pyoderma, one of our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians can help. More than likely, they will discuss a condition called “hot spots” with you. These are localized spots of pyoderma usually caused when double-coated dogs swim in lakes or streams, and their fur stays damp on their skin.

Pyoderma requires prescription medication and shampoos to treat. One of our Hello Ralphie vets can help you choose the right product to treat your dog’s pyoderma.

sick black dog dermatitis and Disease on skin

5. Thinning Hair/Skin Pigment Changes

You may notice that your dog is not quite balding, but their coat looks much less thick and even brittle in certain places.

You may also notice that your dog’s skin pigment changes over time. Where your dog’s skin was once a bright or pale shade of pink, it may now look almost black.

Typically, these clinical signs in dogs are due to metabolic diseases and hormone imbalances. A Hello Ralphie online vet can note what you have noticed in your dog and recommend the next steps for a diagnosis. Common metabolic diseases in dogs that cause changes to the coat or pigment of the skin include thyroid disease and Cushing’s disease.

6. Lumps/Bumps

As dogs age, they can develop numerous lumps, bumps, moles, and lesions on the surface of their skin. Sometimes, these can look rather alarming. These lumps and bumps range from fatty masses, warts, skin tags, and benign cysts to more sinister lesions, such as a variety of cancers.

A Hello Ralphie veterinarian will discuss the appearance of your dog’s lump or bump. The size, shape, color, and texture will all play a factor in helping make a diagnosis. One of our Hello Ralphie veterinarians will discuss the most likely differentials for your dog’s lump/bump based on the appearance, your dog’s age, and the breed.

Additional Information

Of course, these are just six common conditions that can affect your dog’s skin, and the list of potential conditions is much larger. If you suspect that your dog has a condition on this list or something not mentioned above, a Hello Ralphie virtual vet can help. Help keep your dog healthy and schedule a virtual vet appointment today!

For more information about potential skin issues in dogs, you can also read through our Why is My Dog So Itchy and Red Bumps on Dog Paws guides!

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