The 7 Most Common Pet Skin Problems

Pet skin problems are the most common ailments in both cats and dogs. These problems are mostly caused by infection and allergic reactions. Allergies in dogs, unlike those in humans, affect the skin instead of the respiratory tract. The coat, the color of the fur and the condition of your dog’s skin are indicators of the general health of your pet.

Symptoms of Common Skin Problems:

  • Rashes
  • Loss of hair
  • Hot spots
  • Skin lesions
  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Dry skin
  • Scabs 
  • Foul smell

1. Fungal Skin Infection

This is also known as ringworm and young puppies are more susceptible to this infection. The fungi live in the dead skin tissues, nails and hair of the dog. The head and legs of the dog are more commonly affected by this infection which is characterized by loss of hair that progresses to lesions if left untreated for long.

2. Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are more common in dogs than in other pets. Yeast is the spore-like form of fungi and all pets have small amounts of yeast on their skin, in the ears and the anal glands. Infections arise when the number of yeast-like spores increases tremendously. Usually an immune system deficiency allows yeast to proliferate and certain breeds such as the Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa apso and Dachshund are at greater risk of developing this condition.

3. Bacterial Skin Infection

This is also known as Pyoderma and is caused by the staphylococci bacteria. The ears and trunk of the dog are most affected by the infection but the whole body can also get affected occasionally.

4. Parasitic Skin Disease

Fleas and dust mites are parasites that normally cause skin problems in dogs. Mange is caused by mites and there are 2 types of mange infections that can develop namely, sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Parasitic skin diseases cause intense itchiness in dogs and the lice, ticks and fleas have to be eradicated with the use of insecticides.

5. Allergic Skin Disease

Dogs can become allergic to a food product or a chemical ingredient in a soap or shampoo. They may also develop reactions to insect bites. Atopic dermatitis is the most common allergic skin disease and is caused by inhalation of allergens such as pollen or dust. Although this disease can affect dogs of all ages, young pets are most susceptible. Contact allergy is caused by chemicals present in flea collars, soaps or waxes. Food allergies can also cause skin problems such as skin lesions and diarrhea. Besides this, insect bites can cause allergic reactions such as hives and rashes.

6. Hormonal Skin Disease

Endocrinal problems such as over or under production of hormones by the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands, and the testis or ovaries can cause skin diseases mostly characterized by hair loss.

7. Scalp Psoriasis

A weakened immune system is the cause of scalp psoriasis in dogs. This happens when a certain type of immune cell known, as the T cell, undergoes rapid multiplication and excess cells accumulate on the surface of the skin in the form of scales. Boosting the immune system with a nutritious diet and supplements can help prevent the recurrence of psoriasis.

Treatment varies with the type of canine skin disease present and the underlying cause of the disease. Topical ointments, medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids and immunotherapy drugs can treat skin diseases. It’s also important to keep the dog in an allergen free environment.