Diagnosing Canine Skin Disorders

Canine skin disorders are frustrating, not only for owner, but for your dog, as well. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on your pet for any signs they might be suffering from any kind of skin condition causing them discomfort.

Dog Skin Disorder Symptoms

Some of those symptoms of skin problems in canines are:

  • Excessive scratching or licking

  • Raw, round spots

  • Black, crusty skin

  • Dry, flaky skin

  • Bad odor

  • Lumps on or under the skin

  • Excessive shedding

  • Hair loss

  • Blisters

  • Lackluster coat (might be oily)

If you notice any of the above, you might want to do a little research into your pet's symptoms and find out the most likely cause.

Possible Diagnoses for Skin Disorders

Any number of things. If you research and are still unsure, you might feel better making an appointment with your vet to be certain.

Allergies are very common in dogs. They suffer allergies from a wide variety of things, including food, dust mites, fleas, pollens or even household cleaning products. If you're able to figure out what your pet is allergic to, you can clear up his skin problem as easily as keeping him away from the allergen.

Walking Dandruff is a condition caused by white "walking" dandruff spots. These spots are actually large mites called Cheyletiella. Cheyletiella mites can cause scales, inflammation and redness, dandruff and crusty skin. Treatment includes bathing your dog in shampoo designed for killing mites. You'll also want to clean the dog's environment as best as you can to prevent re-infestation.

Scabies are another type of mite; however these ones burrow into a dog's skin. Scabies is one of the conditions known to be accompanied by a foul odor. A special permethrin cream is part of the Scabies treatment and your dog could need several monthly treatments. Take care to note that humans can develop rashes on their arms as a result of these Scabies.

Hot Spots are a fairly common condition, especially in German Shepherds. They are a result of trapped moisture in the skin (such as beneath matted fur) promoting bacterial growth. This happens more in hotter weather, earning them the title "summer sores." Hot spots are round, raw sores your dog will lick and bite at excessively, which in turn further aggravates the skin. There are many types of over-the-counter cleansers, medication and creams you can apply to the spot. Keep your dog from biting/licking at all costs, especially if you've covered their sores in medicated creams. If possible, carefully shave the infected area as it will help alleviate moisture.

Other conditions include ticks, fleas, Demodex, lumps/cysts, tumors, or yeast infections.

Methods to Diagnose the Skin Problem

If you aren't comfortable trying to figure out the problem on your own, or the condition becomes too severe and home-treatment isn't working, a trip to the vet would be beneficial to your pet. Your vet will perform a series of tests, including a biopsy on any lumps, examining the skin under a special light (to look for specific fungus types). A blood test might also be performed to see if your dog suffers from any nutritional deficiencies or infections.