Common Dog Skin Problems

June 25, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

Even dogs can encounter skin conditions. They are covered in fur but the epidermis below can still be irritated by a number of things. Here is an introduction to some common causes of skin irritants and the problems they produce.

Dogs have an outer protective layer of skin just like we do. They also have hair follicles, although their hair is much longer on the skin than ours. It can be hard to see what is attacking that skin through the hair but that is where watching and knowing your pet comes in handy.

Most skin conditions are not comfortable for your dog. Prompt treatment can prevent much suffering on their part.

Skin Irritants / Allergies

They are as much a problem for dogs as they are for people. Environmental allergies are harder to nail down. It could be something that your dog comes in contact with while running and playing outside. More often than not it is due to flea or tick bites. If your dog is allergic, the symptoms can show up months after being bitten.

Allergies can cause itching and redness of the skin. Your dog might lick, scratch or chew his skin in an attempt to reach the spot and stop the problem. This can result in some hair loss from constant gnawing.

Talk to your veterinarian. If the cause is a flea or tick bite, applying medication or a repelling color may clear up the allergic reaction.

Just as hard is finding a food allergy. If all else fails and you are left with something in their diet causing the skin problem, try reducing their food to one protein and one vegetable. Add foods back into the diet until the allergen is found.


Bacterial infections are often a result of other skin problems. Your dog gnaws on his skin trying to scratch an itch and introduces bacteria from the skin into his bloodstream. Bacterial infections are characterized by hair loss, redness and inflammation at the site of infection.

This can potentially lead to yeast infections too. These are characterized by an increase in bacteria in warm moist places on the skin. Usually there will be a foul odor that is given off by the bacteria. The skin will be scaly and greasy feeling.


Fleas and ticks usually lead to allergic reactions in dogs. Some more distressing reactions can be caused by mites. An example is the Demodex mite which leads to what we call mange in dogs. They lose their hair in spots, the skin gets scaly and it is red.

The key to finding the source of the skin problem in order to help your dog begins with noticing signs of change in the appearance of his skin or his other habits. Make sure to keep a look out and check your dog regularly to avoid any distress on his part.


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