Seborrhea Dog Symptoms

Seborrhea is a common skin condition in dogs. Seborrhea may make your dog's skin either excessively dry or excessively oily, depending on the type of seborrhea he has. Seborrhea is often a secondary condition. Here's what you should know about canine seborrhea, its symptoms and its treatment.

Types of Seborrhea in Dogs

There are three types of seborrhea that affect dogs. Seborrhea sicca, or "dry" seborrhea, causes dryness and scaliness of the skin. Seborrhea oleosa, or "oily" seborrhea, causes scaliness and flakiness, but it also causes excessive oiliness of the skin the gives your dog's skin a distinctive odor. Seborrheic dermatitis causes flakiness and oiliness, but with the additional symptom of inflammation.

Causes of Seborrhea in Dogs

Seborrhea can be an hereditary disorder. Vets call hereditary seborrhea "primary idiopathic seborrhea," and they don't really know what causes it. Most cases of seborrhea are secondary in nature. They're the result of an underlying condition.

Conditions that can cause seborrhea include hormonal and endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism. Pancreatic diseases and nutritional disorders, including malnutrition, can contribute to seborrhea's development. Parasitic infestation and allergic reactions can also cause seborrhea.

Symptoms of Seborrhea in Dogs

Dogs with seborrhea may have excessively dry or excessively oily skin. Their skin will be flaky and scaly. Dogs with seborrhea may experience inflammation of the skin. The ears are particularly vulnerable to irritation and excess oil secretion. Dogs with seborrhea may develop a distinctive odor; it's the smell of the excessive amounts of skin oils they're producing.

Dogs with seborrhea may experience itching and may lick and scratch themselves to excess.

Diagnosing Canine Seborrhea

Your vet will need a complete medical history to diagnose the type and cause of your dog's seborrhea. Your vet will want to know when the first symptoms appeared. Symptoms may appear one after another; try to accurately tell your vet which symptoms you noticed first and in what order they appeared.

Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to try and determine the underlying cause of your dog's seborrhea. Skin biopsies and skin cytology can help your vet determine if your dog is suffering from any skin infections in addition to seborrhea. Blood work and other diagnostic tests can help your vet determine the underlying cause of your dog's seborrhea.

Treating Canine Seborrhea

Treatment for your dog's seborrhea will vary depending on the cause of his seborrhea. If your dog is suffered from hypothyroidism, nutritional disorders or another condition that can contribute to seborrhea, he'll need treatment for that condition in order to clear up his skin condition. If your dog's seborrhea is primary and hereditary, treatment will focus on resolving the symptoms of primary seborrhea.

Your dog may need antibiotics or anti-fungal medications, since seborrhea leaves dogs vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections of the skin. Topical creams and ointments can help relieve flakiness and excessive dryness or excessive oiliness. You may need to bathe your dog in medicated shampoos in order to help relieve his seborrhea symptoms.