Dog skin conditions and treatments

Posted by Dr Dog. September 23rd 2013.

Your dog’s skin is the largest organ of his body so it’s important that as an owner you are able to notice any skin problems your dog may have. This blog post will give you an introduction to skin conditions in dogs, tips to help you diagnose these problems and some home remedies that can help if your dog does have a skin problem.

So, skin has many functions, including protecting body structures and organs from physical damage and infection. However skin can suffer from wounds, trauma, parasites and allergic reactions, and can also be affected by diseases, such as allergies, hormonal and immune system problems. So it is important that when any of these problems arise as a responsible dog owner we know how to react.

The large majority of skin problems in dogs will be short term, self-limiting and easily resolved at home, often without needing a visit to the vet. However, unfortunately some skin problems may last for months and potentially years – in this case you will need a visit to the vet. If you think that your dog has a skin problem it is important to monitor this for 72 hours, if the condition doesn’t seem to improve in this time our advice would be to seek advice from a vet.

happy dog

 

Identifying a skin problem

Being able to notice a skin problem relatively quickly in a dog is important as you can begin treatment ASAP; keeping the amount of time your dog is in discomfort at a minimum. As with most pet health conditions, skin problems range between those that are simple to identify to those which can be rather difficult.

Your investigation at home should always start with ruling out the more simple, common and obvious problems first, such as parasites. This can be done by combing through the dogs coat with a head lice comb. Do this over a sheet of paper and look for fleas/flea excrement or other parasites. The combing test is not 100% accurate, so if symptoms persist your vet can check further – including checks for yeasts and ringworm problems.

Once the above issues have been ruled out, the problem can be investigated further by a veterinary examination, history taking and questioning you about your dog’s environment and lifestyle. As an aid to diagnosis your vet may decide to trial treatments, one at a time and see how the pet responds. Other investigations may include blood tests for allergies or an underlying medical problem.

Finally and when all other appropriate routes are exhausted then skin biopsies may have to be taken, but as they involve a general anaesthetic these are risky and costly.

Tips to manage a skin problem

Simple management is often the best approach e.g. preventing the dog licking, scratching and rubbing; we understand that this can be easier said than done, but you must try your best to stop your dog from irritating its skin.

In the case of allergies, identifying and avoiding the trigger would be a great step in helping your dog’s skin complaint. However this is not always possible e.g. with pollens and dust mites and so with these, treatment may be required.

In an allergic animal it is advisable to ensure that they are protected with good, prescription strength, flea treatments and environmental spray at all times. Modern flea treatments conveniently cover several parasites in one go.

There are many over the counter, internet pharmacy and vet prescription products to help manage and ease skin problems e.g. shampoos, nutriceuticals and specialist diets which can be very helpful when treating a skin condition in a dog.

Your vet should ensure that the use of prescription medications is kept to the minimum and that any underlying conditions are properly diagnosed in order to aid the cure or long term control.

Also remember that if you have Argos Pet Insurance for your dog and would like to ask any questions relating to your pets health contact our 24hr free vetfone service, where experts are more than happy to answer any of your queries.

Photo Credit: digital_image_fan

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