The skin is the largest and most exterior organ in the body and it is prone to lots of infections, infestations, and diseases. Skin problems are quite common in dogs and usually cause a lot of discomfort with itchy and sore skin. Other signs to watch out for are dry skin, dandruff, red skin, rashes, hair loss, bumps, and attached parasites. It is important to check your dog regularly and watch out for any of these signs.

Some of the most common skin conditions in dogs include

  • Allergic Dermatitis: Dogs have allergic reactions just like in humans. The two (2) common allergies in dogs are food allergy and environmental allergy. Environmental allergens include dust, mites, trees, grasses, pollen and mold. Common observable signs are itching and rashes on the face, chest, stomach, and feet. Food allergy has almost the same presentation but with itching in the anus and stomach upset. Environmental allergies are usually seasonal while food allergy can occur any time in the year.  
  • Fungal infections: These happen when a fungus overgrows and enters into the skin tissues. The most common types are ringworms and yeast infection.
    1. Ringworm: It is contagious to humans and other animals. You will notice circular crusty patch on the head, ears, front legs, and paws. The spots will also appear red and inflamed. It is important you contact your vet for treatment so it won’t spread to you and other in-contact animals. 
    2. Yeast Infection: Mostly occur due to an overgrowth of a normal fungus of the dog’s skin. Predisposing factors include allergic reactions, immune deficiency and immunosuppressive treatment. Common signs are redness, hyperpigmentation, crusty flaky black skin with a mouldy odor.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infection of the skin is called pyoderma. It usually happens with underlying conditions that allow bacteria to enter the skin through itching and soreness. 
    1. Hot spots: It is caused by excessive licking, biting, and scratching of the head, neck, and the base of the tail. Most times, it is caused by irritation from flea bites but other causes like parasites, contact dermatitis, and allergies can be responsible. 
    2. Puppy pyoderma: It is also called impetigo. It presents as a number of raised red pimples on the belly of a puppy. It can heal naturally with good immunity while in some cases, it needs an antibiotic.
    3. Folliculitis: Infection of the hair follicle commonly seen on the elbow, ankles, and hip. The signs are bumps, skin sores, and scabs. Predisposing factors are parasitic infections, allergies, hormonal disorders, and systemic diseases.
  • Immune-mediated Disease: Dogs have auto-immune diseases that affect the skin. An example of such a condition is Pemphigus, a disorder characterized by thickened paws, dandruff, pustules, redness, and hair loss. Although it is similar to bacterial infection, it is not itchy and does not respond to antibiotics.
  • Tumors and cancers: Skin growths often present as lumps and bumps. Although not all skin lumps are cancerous. The most common growth in dogs is lipoma, an accumulation of fat cells seen in older dogs.
  • Parasites: They include the folowing
    1. Mites: They cause the disease called mange. There are two types:
    2. Sarcoptic mange: Also referred to as canine scabies characterized by severe itching, hair loss, and crusty bumps on the ear, ankle, and elbow. It is the most common mite infection in dogs. It is contagious and can infest human and other dogs.
    3. Demodectic Mange: These mites are normal living organism on the dog’s skin but they cause problem when the immune system is weakened. Signs include hair loss on the face with dandruff, and wide spread redness and sore. 
    4. Ticks: They are tiny-big crawling biting insects that feed on dog’s blood and can also disease like tick fever. You might observe itching in dogs with ticks and can see it on the dog. However, you really can’t tell if your dog had a tick bite except with the onset of tick fever which could cause fever, lethargy, lameness, vomiting or diarrhea.  
    5. Fleas: They cause intense itching in dogs which can result in hair loss and bleeding if not treated. Fleas can infest an environment making them contagious to humans and other dogs.