Common Causes of Dogs' Skin Problems

The skin is the largest organ in the dog's body. Skin problems are common in canines and may be caused by different factors. The most common causes of dogs skin problems include bacteria, fungi, allergies, external parasites, internal diseases or hereditary factors.

Infectious Agents

Skin problems may occur due to different infectious agents such as fungi or bacteria. These infectious agents will disrupt the normal skin flora and will lead to skin disease.

Staphylococcus intermedius pyoderma and Malassezia may occur frequently in canines.

The most common fungi that cause infections are the yeast cells that are normally present on the surface of the dog's skin; the yeast cells may be in excess and this will cause extreme itchiness and rashes.

The ringworm is also a common fungus that causes skin infection.

Some of these infections are highly contagious (i.e. ringworm, which may also be transmitted to humans).

Various Allergies

Skin problems may often be caused by allergies which may be inhalant allergies, flea allergies or contact allergies.

The allergies will manifest through rashes but the dog may also cause additional skin problems by scratching excessively and causing skin infections. The scratching will result in wounds and the dog will lick these wounds; the saliva may contain a lot of bacteria that will lead to a skin infection.

The dog requires topical treatment to relieve the itchiness (i.e. steroid creams) as well as oral medication (i.e. antihistamines or steroids) to reduce the allergies. For the skin infection, the dog should receive topical or oral antibiotics.

You should also detect the allergen and remove it from the dog's environment.

External Parasites

Even if the dog is not allergic to fleas, he may develop skin problems due to external parasites such as fleas or mites. The presence of these parasites will cause itchiness and the dog will scratch causing wounds that may get infected; the presence of fleas or mites will also weaken the dog's immunity and he will commonly develop secondary bacterial or fungal infections.

Common parasites that can cause skin problems include fleas, mites, mange or lice.

These parasites are extremely contagious, so you need to isolate your pet; if your dog is healthy, avoid other pets that may have parasites.

Hereditary Factors

Skin problems may be due to different hereditary diseases such as seborrheic dermatitis, hereditary follicular dysplasia, hypotrichosis or alopecia.

These hereditary problems may often not have treatment options.

Internal Problems

It may happen that certain internal problems will cause cutaneous manifestations. Common internal problems that will cause skin problems include:

  • Hormonal imbalance (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease)
  • Tumors (more frequently testicle or ovary tumors)
  • Autoimmune diseases (canine lupus)

Skin problems can be detected by the vet by running a few tests and by consulting the dog. It is important to get treatment, as a poor skin condition will lead to a dull coat or hair loss. Most commonly, skin problems can be treated with topical creams or oral medication or both.