Dog Diseases - Skin Diseases

Your dog’s skin is an indication of her overall health. When a skin problem occurs, your dog may respond with excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking.

Some common skin problems in dogs are:
Dog skin Fleas


  • Fleas are probably the most common cause of skin disease.
  • Some dogs will develop a hypersensitivity to flea saliva and this can lead to an itchy reaction.
  • The flea lives by ingesting blood from your dog several times a day.
  • Symptoms:
    • Droppings or “flea dirt” in a dog’s coat - Flea eggs on dog or in dog’s environment
    • Allergic dermatitis
    • Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
    • Hair loss Scabs and hot spots
    • Pale gums
    • Tapeworms
  • Prevention:
    • Using a flea comb on your dog and washing his bedding once a week will go a long way toward controlling flea infestation.
    • It is important to treat your yard as thoroughly as your house.
    • Concentrate on shady areas, where fleas live, and use an insecticide or nematodes, microscopic worms that kill flea larvae.
  • Treatment:
    • Speak with your veterinarian about choosing the right flea treatment product.
    • Common options include a topical, liquid treatment applied to the back of the neck, shampoos, sprays and powders.
    • Treatment of the environment involves using a recommended aerosol spray and regular vacuuming.


  • Canine Atopic Dermatitis, also known as atopy is a common itchy skin allergy in dogs caused by a disorder of the dog's immune system.
  • It is an allergy to substances in the environment that are inhaled by the dog.
  • These substances are called allergens and cause the immune system to over re-act and release histamines.
  • Food sensitivity is an uncommon cause of allergic skin disease, which accounts for only a small percentage of the cases seen by dermatologists.
  • Some of the more common allergens are:
    • House Dust Mite
    • Pollen from flowers or grasses.
    • Mold Spores
  • Symptoms:
    • Chewing on feet
    • Rubbing the face on the carpet
    • Scratching the body
    • Recurrent ear infections
    • Hair loss
    • Mutilated skin
  • Prevention:
    • Identifying the allergen or allergens responsible and remove them from your dog’s environment is the best prevention for canine atopic dermatitis.
    • Ways to reduce the amount of allergen in the environment include:
        Cleaning dog after exposure to pollen, e.g. Wiping their coat with a damp towel or cloth after going outside.
        Limit their time spent outdoors to minimise pollen exposure.
        Air purifiers to help limit the amount of dust, pollen, dust mites, fabric etc. in the air that could be inhaled
  • Treatment:
    • Your veterinarian can offer guidance and advice on the best treatment.
    • To rule out a food allergy, with your vet’s guidance, you can try food trials (a hypoallergenic diet), where nearly all possible food allergens are removed from the diet,
    • Treating the irritated skin that can worsen the scratching, such as moisturising dry skin or providing itch relief may be the option. Antihistamines, Corticosteroids, Cyclosporine may be advised by your vet. for treatment.
    • Medicated shampoo can help calm and soothe the skin, reducing scratching, and also help decrease the likelihood of bacterial infections developing.
    • Essential omega 3 fatty acid supplements can also help strengthen the coat and skin, and reduce inflammation.
    • Immunotherapy is also becoming an increasingly viable option.

Pyoderma (Bacterial skin infections):

Pyoderma (Bacterial skin infections)
  • Pyoderma is also known as Bacterial skin infection or Bacterial folliculitis.
  • When a dog's skin is cut or wounded, there is an increased risk of infection.
  • The infection can occur in the superficial or deep layers of the skin, and can be caused by various species of bacteria.
  • Lesions and pustules (inflamed pusfilled swelling) on the skin, and in some cases partial hair loss, often characterize the infection.
  • Symptoms:
    • Itchiness
    • Pustules
    • Crusted skin
    • Small, raised lesions
    • Loss of hair (alopecia)
    • Dried discharge in affected area.
  • Prevention:
    Routine bathing of the animal’s wounds in benzoyl peroxide or other medicated shampoos can reduce the incidence of infection initially, and will help after to prevent recurrence.
  • Treatment:
    • The infection typically responds favorably to medical treatment.
    • Treatment is generally done on an outpatient basis and will involve external (topical) medications, as well as antibiotics for the infection.

Yeast skin infection:

Yeast skin infection
  • Skin yeast infections are extremely common in domestic dogs.
  • The species that cause most of these infections is Malassezia pachydermatis.
  • This type of yeast is a normal inhabitant of a dog’s skin, in manageable numbers.
  • It likes to live in the host dog’s fatty tissues and is especially fond of the ears.
  • A yeast infection occurs when the yeast start to reproduce uncontrollably.
  • Symptoms:
    • Irritation of skin
    • Loss of hair (alopecia)
    • Greasiness
    • Scaly skin
    • Redness of affected areas
    • Malodorous discharge from lesions
    • Hyperpigmentation and epidermal thickening.
  • Treatment:
    • There are various therapeutic agents used in treating this condition, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of yeast.
    • Your veterinarian will suggest medications for application on the skin and will also recommend medicated shampoos, which should help remove scales and resolve foul odors.


  • Ringworm is a fungal infection that invades the hair and hair follicles.
  • Most cases are caused by Microsporum canis.
  • Ringworm in dogs is primarily a disease of puppies and young adults. Typical areas of involvement are the face, ears, paws, and tail.
  • This highly contagious infection can lead to patchy areas of hair loss on a dog, and can spread to other animals and humans too.
  • Ringworm is transmitted by spores in the soil and by contact with the infected hair of dogs and cats.
Ringworm Treatment
  • Symptoms:
    • Round raised regions of hair loss with a raised red ring at the periphery; usually not accompanied by itchiness
    • Irregular patchy areas of hair loss
    • Crusty skin
    • Scaly skin
    • Bumps on the skin
    • Pustules on the skin
    • Irritated, inflamed hair follicles
    • Poor hair coat; broken hairs
    • Dry, brittle, cracked and/or deformed toe nails
  • Prevention:
    • Ringworm spores can survive for up to one year and should be eliminated from the environment.
    • Your vet may recommend baths with a medicated shampoo for all your pets, and will likely suggest washing, disinfecting or even discarding the infected animal’s bedding, equipment and toys.
    • As a commonsense precaution, it is a smart idea to thoroughly wash your hands after you bathe or touch your dog.
    • Good personal hygiene and environmental decontamination are essential to keep the disease from spreading to humans.
  • Treatment:
    • Follow your veterinarian’s treatment recommendation, usually topical therapy (creams, ointments or shampoos) combined with systemic therapy (anti-fungal drugs by mouth).
    • You’ll need to clean your home thoroughly to eliminate environmental contamination. You can kill spores with a solution of chlorine bleach and water where you can use it without damaging the material.


  • Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites, common external parasites found in companion canines.
  • Some mange mites are normal residents of your dog’s skin and hair follicles, while others are not.
  • All mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if they proliferate.
  • There are three varieties of canine mange.
      Demodectic mange (Red Mange)
      Sarcoptic mange (Scabies)
      Cheyletiella mange (Walking Dandruff).
  • Each are caused by a different mite.
  • Sarcoptic and cheyletiella mange are highly contagious, demodectic is not.
  • Symptoms:
    The symptoms of mange depend on which type of mite is present.
    • Demodectic mange
      • Demodectic mange tends to cause hair loss, bald spots, scabbing and sores.
      • Secondary bacterial infections can make demodectic mange an itchy and uncomfortable disease.
    • Sarcoptic mange
      • Sarcoptic mange tends to cause intense itching.
      • It can result in restlessness and frantic scratching, symptoms that generally appear one week after exposure.
      • It also can result in hair loss, reddened skin, body sores and scabs.
      • The most commonly affected areas are a dog’s ears, elbows, face and legs, but it can rapidly spread to the entire body.
    • Cheyletiella Mange
      • Cheyletiella Mange is also known as walking dandruff.
      • It will present as a bad case of dandruff over the head, neck and back.
      • It causes itching which may range from mild to moderate.
  • Prevention:
    • If your dog has been diagnosed with sarcoptic mange, you’ll need to thoroughly clean or replace his bedding and collar and treat all animals in contact.
    • If you suspect a neighbor’s dog may be infected, keep your pets away to keep the disease at bay.
    • Bring your dog to the vet periodically as recommended for recheck skin scrapes to ensure the mites have been eradicated.
  • Treatment:
    • Depending on the type of mange and the breed of your dog, medication may be given orally or applied topically, by injection, or via shampoo and dip.
    • The first step in the treatment of sarcoptic mange is isolating your dog to prevent the condition from spreading to other pets and humans. Your vet may prescribe antiparasitic medications, as well as medication to ease itching, inflammation and secondary skin infections.
    • Medications and managing physiological stress are essential when treating demodectic mange.