Skin problems can make your dog itchy and uncomfortable. They are also often secondary to other canine diseases, which is why proper diagnosis and treatment are essential.
In this piece, we’ll be listing some of the most common skin conditions in dogs. We’ll also be describing the causes and symptoms of these conditions, as well as how to treat them.
However, you should always visit a vet if you notice your dog is showing signs of a skin condition. Don’t try to diagnose the problem yourself, as many skin issues have similar symptoms but require different treatments.
1. Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are a common type of fungal infection in dogs. While yeast is always found on a dog’s skin, an infection occurs when there is overgrowth. The most commonly affected areas are the dog’s ears, skin folds, or between paw pads.
As noted above, yeast naturally occurs on a dog’s skin and normally doesn’t cause any health problems. However, if something causes the condition of your dog’s skin to change, or your dog develops a problem with its immune system, then an infection can occur.
Some of the most common causes of yeast infections include:
Standard Yeast Infection
- Moisture trapped in skin folds and between paw pads.
- Underactive or overactive immune system.
- Humidity and heat.
- Foods containing a lot of sugar and carbohydrates.
Ear Yeast Infection
- Water trapped in the ear due to bathing, swimming, etc.
- Something trapped in the ear, such as a foreign object, discharge, or ear wax.
- Certain ear drops.
The signs and symptoms of a yeast infection in dogs include:
- Hair loss (bald patches on your dog’s coat)
- Dry skin
- Flaky skin
- Red irritated skin
- Skin lesions
- Itchy skin
- Skin texture change
- Strange musty odor
- Patches of dark-colored skin
If you notice some of these skin problems and think that your dog might have a yeast infection, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will be able to diagnose your dog’s skin condition and provide it with treatment.
Your vet may prescribe oral drugs if the infection is particularly bad, or some medicated shampoos and ointments if the infection is not advanced.
2. Acute Moist Dermatitis
This condition can also be known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or hot spots. Hot spots are often the result of other dog skin conditions. They cause a dog to lick or chew a specific area of its body, which can cause damage and bacterial infections.
There can be many causes of hot spots. Anything that causes a skin injury or encourages the dog to scratch or chew on a specific area can cause acute moist dermatitis. Some of the main causes are:
- Food allergies
- Otitis externa (water in the ear)
- Tick and flea allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Demodex mites
- Atopic dermatitis
Hot spots are quite easy to notice on dogs. If you see that your dog is interested in licking, chewing, and scratching a certain area on its body, or if you notice any hair loss, and irritated skin that is crusty and scabby, then your dog has a hot spot.
If a hot spot is left alone, a bacterial infection could develop, making it more painful, itchy, and irritated.
To treat hot spots, a vet will need to know the underlying illness that is causing them. If you take your dog to the vet with hot spots, a vet will usually clean the wound, and prescribe anti-inflammatory medication.
If these hot spots are caused by a more serious skin disease, then your dog will be treated for that specific skin condition by your vet.
3. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common dog skin conditions. It is usually caused by an allergic reaction to an environmental or dietary trigger.
Some of the things that can cause atopic dermatitis in dogs include:
- Making direct contact with an environmental allergen, such as certain plants, chemical substances, or other animals.
- Food allergies
- Parasites (worms, ticks, lice, mites, fleas)
- Sensitivity to skin bacteria or yeast
Skin allergies are quite easy to pick up, as they will mainly cause your dog to itch. So, if you see your dog scratching, biting, and chewing at certain spots, it probably has atopic dermatitis. If you notice hair loss, it will be because your dog has scratched the hair away.
Treatment for allergic reactions can differ quite a lot. Sometimes removing the thing that is causing the allergic reaction will be enough, like getting rid of certain plants in your garden, or changing your dog’s food. Your vet may perform an allergy test to find out exactly what’s causing the issue.
However, in some cases, steroids will need to be prescribed to strengthen your dog’s immune system.
4. Dry, Flaky Skin
There are many causes for dry skin in dogs, which can be frustrating for both dogs and owners alike. It is a symptom of many other dog skin problems, but it is also a skin problem in itself.
Some of the causes of dry, flaky skin include:
- Cushing’s disease
- Excessive bathing
- Cold, dry weather
Dry skin is easy to detect. You will notice dry patches of flaky skin on your dog, and you may notice hair loss, as a result of your dog scratching.
If the dry skin on your dog is the result of another skin condition, then your dog will be treated specifically for that condition. Otherwise, your vet will probably recommend a medicated shampoo and a dog skin moisturizer.
Folliculitis is another one of the most common skin conditions you’ll find in dogs. It occurs when the hair follicles are inflamed due to infection.
Folliculitis is commonly caused by bacteria in dogs, but can also be caused by:
- Cushing’s disease
- Canine acne
- Hot spots
- Insect bites
- Fungal infections
- Immune system disorders
- Skin-fold pyoderma
If your dog has folliculitis, you may notice skin abnormalities such as:
- Hair loss
- Pustules and pimples
- Red skin
- Pain around affected areas
- Shedding with scaly skin underneath
You should always visit a vet if you notice signs of folliculitis, as the treatment depends on the type.
For example, bacterial folliculitis is often treated with oral antibiotics, creams, sprays, and ointments. Fungal folliculitis is treated with medicated shampoos and topical medications. And if the issue is caused by parasites, this will require a parasite-specific treatment.
Fleas are parasites that feed off of your dog’s blood. They can cause itching and skin irritation, while also potentially spreading disease.
Fleas are often caught from other dogs. This can happen when the dog directly interacts with another canine, but also on a walk or at a dog park. Sometimes fleas are carried into the home on shoes or clothing.
If your dog has ticks or fleas, you may notice:
- Red, inflamed skin
- Excessive scratching
- Hair loss
- Hair color change
- Skin wounds
- Flea dirt in the dog’s fur
You may also see live fleas on the fur or around the house. However, these are often small and difficult to notice.
There are many treatments for fleas. You should contact your vet if you suspect your dog has fleas, as many treatments are only available with a prescription.
After removing any ticks and fleas on your dog, you should clean your home, and your dog’s bedding thoroughly, in case there are still more lurking around your home.
7. Discoid Lupus
Discoid lupus is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks itself. Discoid lupus, in particular, affects the skin of dogs. It usually starts around the nose, but can spread to other parts of the body.
There is no direct cause for lupus, and it is thought to be passed down genetically. However, it is also possible for it to be triggered by an infection or exposure to certain environmental conditions.
The symptoms of Lupus in dogs are:
- Loss of hair
- Dry skin
- Crusty skin
- Skin lesions
Discoid lupus is often treated using topical steroid creams. After it has been applied, many owners place muzzles on their dogs to prevent them from licking it off.
It’s important to watch out for signs of skin conditions. If your dog experiences any of the symptoms we have mentioned above, you should take them to a vet immediately.
Many skin conditions are easy to treat – but only if you have an accurate diagnosis. Once your vet has uncovered the problem, your pet can hopefully get back to having healthy skin again.