Written by Dr. Jeff Werber

Dogs are susceptible to a host of skin conditions or diseases, some of which are quite common. If you’re a pet parent, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these diseases so that you can get your furry friend the treatment they need as soon as possible. In this post, we’ll take a look at six of the most common dog skin conditions.

Mange in dogs

There are two types of mange in dogs: sarcoptic mange, like scabies, and demodectic mange.

Sarcoptic mange in dogs

Sarcoptic mange in dogs is an infectious disease and passes from dogs or foxes and also infects humans. This is specifically caused by the sarcoptes mite. Sarcoptic mange is characterized by excessive uncontrollable scratching. Dogs chew and scratch their skin constantly. And this then leads to the loss of large amounts of hair, especially on the legs and belly of your dog.

Be careful: Sarcoptic mange is contagious to humans and usually affects the arms and the area around the beltline.

Treatment for sarcoptic mange in dogs

Sarcoptic mange is generally diagnosed by the clinical signs because the mites burrow deep into the skin. Unfortunately, skin scraping may not capture any mites. However, diagnosis can be made by a skin scraping examined under the microscope. Treatment varies from medicated baths and dips to injections and oral medications. And oftentimes a combination of treatments are used to treat the infection.

Demodectic mange in dogs

Demodectic mange is not contagious to dogs and it’s linked to a dog’s immune system. The demodex canis mite is a normal inhabitant of a dog’s skin. When a dog’s immune system is suppressed, the mange becomes opportunistic. This condition is characterized by excessive scratching followed by patchy alopecia (hair loss) and the resulting condition is a skin infection from the irritation.

Treatment for demodectic mange in dogs

Demodectic mange requires skin scraping for an accurate diagnosis. And pet parents should be patient, as it can take several weeks to resolve after treatment is initiated. “There is nothing over the counter that will be effective against demodectic mange. You will need to see a veterinarian right away,” says Jeff Werber, DVM.

Allergic dermatitis in dogs

Allergic dermatitis is a result of an allergic reaction. It’s characterized by itchy rash and redness of the skin.

Treatment for allergic dermatitis in dogs

Depending on the cause of the allergy, a pet parent can treat allergic dermatitis in many ways including:

  • Medicated Baths: Frequent bathing (weekly to every other week) of the dog helps remove allergens from the hair coat, which may contribute to skin allergy flare-ups. Pet parents can also try medicated shampoos or rinses.
  • Antihistamines: If prescribed by a veterinarian, antihistamines may work very well in controlling symptoms of allergic skin disease in dogs.
  • Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications: In the case of bacterial skin infections or fungal skin infections, antibiotics or antifungal medications are frequently prescribed.
  • Flea Control: Dogs with this type of allergic dermatitis must follow a strict flea control regimen.
  • Supplements: Pet parents can supplement their pup’s diet with Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements. These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory agents.

download the free Airvet app to get 24/7 access to licensed veterinarians

Ringworm in dogs

Ringworm is a fungal infection characterized by hair loss, scaling, and inflamed skin.

Note – Ringworm is contagious to humans.

Treatment for ringworm in dogs

Since ringworm is contagious, it should be treated right away. Furthermore, ringworm is contagious to humans, therefore pet parents should avoid touching areas of the dog that could be affected. And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after handling a pet that might be infected. You will need antifungal medication from a veterinarian’s prescription. In many cases, the infection will take at least a month after the start of treatment to resolve. Treatment may involve daily medication.

Yeast infection in dogs

Yeast often affects the ears, paws, and the folds of skin on a pet. These infections are characterized by an itchy rash and inflamed skin.

Treatment for yeast infections in dogs

Fortunately, yeast infections are not contagious. They can be treated with antifungal medication from a veterinarian’s prescription. Oral antifungal medications include ketoconazole, itraconazole, and fluconazole. Although these medications are highly effective, they must be given for prolonged periods of time i.e. several months to resolve the infection.

Hot spots in dogs

Hot spots are caused when a dog engages in excessive licking, biting, or scratching one part of their body – generally due to an underlying condition. Once the tissue has been irritated, it gets further irritated by a bacterial infection. Hot spots are common in dogs with longer hair that go swimming.

These spots can grow from the size of a quarter to the size of a softball in hours and are red and swollen. Additionally, hot spots may ooze pus or a watery discharge and can have a foul odor. Hair in the affected area may fall out (or be chewed out). While hot spots can occur anywhere, they are most commonly seen on the head, limbs, and hips.

Treatment for hot spots in dogs

To treat a hot spot, the underlying cause of the irritation must be understood. And your veterinarian will examine your pet to determine the underlying cause. Once a full physical examination is performed on your dog, additional testing such as a skin scrape to look for parasites may be recommended. After the underlying cause of your dog’s itching has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate treatment(s).

Treatment of hot spots typically involves some combination of the following:

  • Clipping the hair around the area to prevent fur from matting.
  • Cleaning the affected area with gentle antiseptic solutions such as chlorhexidine.
  • Prescribing antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.
  • Prescribing steroids to control inflammation and decrease itching.
  • Using medicated wipes or solutions to gently clean the area daily.
  • Applying a collar or ”cone” to prevent scratching.

Fortunately, once your veterinarian has initiated treatment for the hot spot, most dogs improve rapidly. In many cases, the hot spot resolves in as little as 3–7 days after the start of treatment.

Lick granuloma in dogs (Acral Lick Dermatitis)

Lick granulomas are chronic self-inflicted sores caused by excessively licking an area of skin. This condition is sometimes anxiety-related and can be the result of separation anxiety, boredom, lack of socialization, and stress. Frequently it is related to allergies, but can also be a result of parasites, tumors, or other causes.

Much like a hot spot, lick granulomas can cause redness, hair loss, and often deep infections.

Treatment for lick granulomas

Similar to a hot spot, the underlying cause of the irritation must be understood in order to be able to treat it. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination of your dog; and depending on the findings, additional testing may be recommended to rule out a bacterial or fungal infection. Once the underlying cause of your dog’s itching has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate treatment.

Treatment typically involves some combination of the following and is similar to treatment for hot spots. The following may be recommended or performed:

  • Clipping the hair around the area to prevent fur from matting.
  • Cleaning the affected area with gentle antiseptic solutions such as chlorhexidine.
  • Prescribing antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.
  • Prescribing steroids to control inflammation and decrease itching. Steroids may come in the form of an injection or a topical solution that is applied to the affected area.
  • Using medicated wipes or solutions to gently clean the area daily.
  • Applying a collar or ”cone” to prevent further scratching.
  • It’s also possible to treat lick granuloma with a laser.

Note that merely wrapping the lesion does not help. Further prevention may require treating the dog’s anxiety by increasing engagement like giving them toys, taking them on additional walks, and/or removing stressors. It’s of the utmost importance to stop your dog from licking. Most dogs improve rapidly with treatment within 7 days after the start of treatment.

If your dog is experiencing any type of skin infection, please contact Airvet. Our team of veterinarians will be happy to help you determine what the skin infection is and recommend next steps. With early diagnosis and proper care, most skin infections in dogs are cleared up relatively quickly. Haven’t downloaded the app yet? Get the app now.

More articles and news

Can Telehealth Improve Employee Productivity?

Can Telehealth Improve Employee Productivity?

Employers are prioritizing productivity improvements for 2023   Productivity in the workforce has always been a top priority for employers. Workforce distractions have morphed over time, particularly as the workplace has shifted from in-office to hybrid and...