Canine Skin and Environment: Creating a Safe Habitat

Canine skin problems can have a host of environmental causes. Allergic reactions to agents in food, air, and water can affect the health of your dog's skin. Bacterial, parasitical and yeast infections may also affect canine skin health.

Causes of Canine Skin Problems

One of the most common cause of canine skin problems is parasitical, namely, fleas. Mites and ticks can also cause canine skin problems. Avoid parasitical infestation by using flea treatments regularly. Check your dog weekly for ticks, and seek veterinary attention if you suspect mites.

Skin allergies are another cause of canine skin problems. The causes of skin allergies can be difficult to pinpoint.

Food allergies may also cause canine skin problems. Dogs with food allergies often chew their own feet.

Seasonal allergies can also cause skin problems in dogs. Seasonal allergies often occur during the spring or fall, and last for only three or four weeks. If your dog suddenly develops skin problems that disappear after about a month and seem to get worse when he's been outside, seasonal allergies may be to blame.

Bacterial and yeast infections may also cause canine skin problems; these can occur when the immune system is weakened by allergies or illness.

Symptoms of Canine Skin Problems

Symptoms of canine skin problems generally include chewing and scratching. If allergies are to blame, your dog's skin may become inflammed and irritated and he may begin to lose fur. A bacterial infection may cause bumps on the surface of the skin. A yeast infection will smell bad, and cause a thick, greasy, brown or yellow paste to appear around the infected area.

Treating Canine Skin Problems

Canine skin problems caused by parasitical infection are easy to control with preventative medication. Bacterial infections of the skin can be prevented by keeping your dog's environment clean and sanitary, and by having him treated for illnesses and allergies that may compromise his immune system. Yeast infections also occur when a dog's immune system is compromised.

If your dog's skin problems are allergy related, it's important first to determine the allergen involved. Your vet can perform an allergen test to determine what agents may be irritating your dog, and you can then do your best to remove these from the environment.

If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, you may choose to medicate him. Keep your windows closed during the seasonal allergy season, and try to walk your dog when pollen levels are low (your local newspaper can tell you what the pollen forecast is).

Food allergies can often be resolved by feeding your dog an all-natural diet. Allergies to other environmental agents, such as dust, may require medication as many of these allergens are quite difficult to remove from the environment. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, used daily, can eliminate many of the allergens from your dog's environment.