Dog Skin and Hair – Symptoms and Causes

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By Tess Thompson

As a pet owner, you probably revel in showing off the great looks of your pet. You like to boast about the tricks that they can perform. You are probably also very proud of the fact that your pet is clean, hygienic and has a great skin and fur.

This source of pride can cause serious concern if proper care is not taken to maintain good skin health. Feline acne and feline hair loss are common occurrences in cats. Dogs, on the other hand, face more skin and hair related problems that can occur as a result of multiple conditions.

The dog skin problems that a pet owner can face are numerous and varied. Dog skin problems can occur due to external or internal reasons. The diagnosis of the skin problem must occur in conjunction with all the other symptoms the dog is experiencing. Generally speaking, there are dog skin problems that can be caused by excessive itching. On the other hand, itching can be a behavioral symptom caused by an internal condition.

External causes and symptoms Dogs are prone to develop allergies from exposure to the environment. The probability of contracting a skin-related problem increases during summer. These are some of the most common causes of skin allergies in dogs:

  • Fleas, mites, chiggers, lice, maggots and other insects
  • Sensitivity towards a substance that the dog comes in contact with, such as grass
  • Chemicals, detergents, paints and other irritants

These different allergens cause allergies with different symptoms. If you spend adequate amounts of time with your pet and observe closely, you should be able to identify the key source of the problem. Listed are some of the allergic reactions that can occur:

  • Rashes
  • Skin irritations near the ear, mouth and between the toes
  • Red lumps that look like pimples
  • Incessant itching and scratching on the back and hind quarters
  • Cystic lumps with holes directly under the skin
  • Red shining moist ulcers, commonly known as hot spots
  • Insect bites, especially near the tips of ears
  • Large amounts of dry flaky skin over the neck and back with variable itching (this may also be indicative of cat dandruff
  • Bare spots where hair appears to have been rubbed off
  • Small swellings/spots, as in chicken pox

Internal causes and symptoms Some of the internal causes of skin related problems that cause hair loss are diseases:

  • Hyperthyroidism - An excess of cortisone produces hair loss. A disturbance in the growth hormones causes a bilateral and symmetric alopecia to occur. This condition usually occurs around puberty and is breed specific.
  • Cushing’s disease - Immune-mediated skin disorders are characterized by the formation of blebs, commonly known as blisters. These eventually turn to crusts, ulcers and skin erosions with excessive itching and scratching. The first sign of these symptoms occur on the nose, muzzle and ears.
  • Hormonal disturbances - Disturbances in female sex hormones also bring about hair loss in specific areas of the body.

Even as you seek medical advice and visit a veterinarian, appreciate that skin issues can be extremely painful at times and can make your pet irritable. Therefore, extreme caution is recommended while you handle you dog during a skin condition.


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