Ensuring you know what healthy skin looks like versus common canine skin irritations and diseases is important for your pet’s health and your sleep.
Some skin problems can be sign of an underlying issue an infection or chronic irritation.
What’s that noise in the night you say? Is it the sound of summer? No, its Fido chewing his feet all night, scratching nonstop or rubbing his face and back on your new door mat constantly. Itchy dogs have many interpretations, including scratching, rubbing, rolling, licking, chewing, head shaking and scooting.
Hair loss or skin sores are signs that there are itchy behaviours.
Common reasons dogs have itchy skin include parasites, such as fleas, lice, or microscopic mites, infections, such as those caused by bacteria, and allergies.
Fleas are extremely common in dogs, particularly in Queensland where fleas are widespread all year. Not only are fleas a pest and can carry disease, but they can also cause flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction from the flea’s bite that occurs in some dogs. Bacterial skin infections are also prevalent in dogs, however, they are typically due to a secondary problem, such as parasites or allergies.
Other skin conditions that occur in dogs include hormone imbalances, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, cancer, which may be benign or malignant, and autoimmune skin diseases, such as pemphigus or lupus. All these typically come without signs of itch unless secondary infections are present.
Sometimes, dog owners may notice that their pets have a skin lesion or that a part of the skin has an irregular growth or appearance compared to the skin around it.
In addition to monitoring your pet’s skin conditions, you should also keep track of your dog’s shedding. Excessive shedding could potentially be a sign of another health condition. First, it is important to determine whether the hair is being scratched out or if it is falling out on its own. If the hair is falling out on its own and leaving obvious areas of baldness, this may be a sign of internal illness, such as hormone imbalances, metabolic changes, or even potentially cancer. It could also be a sign of skin disease, such as ringworm. It is important to remember that certain breeds may shed much more than others. If there is no baldness seen along with the excessive shedding, this may be normal for your dog.
To keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny and to minimise unwanted excessive shedding, routinely brush and groom your pet. Depending on the breed, some dogs may require regular visits to the groomer.
If you notice any excessive scratching or shedding, lesions, or any change in your dog’s normal hair coat appearance, you should have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian to help determine any underlying health conditions that may be a cause for the change.