Skin Care

Diagnosis and treatment of skin-related conditions that can cause discomfort, pain, and illness.

Skin in the largest organ in the body, and it is one of the first defences to protect yourself from the environment. There are a wide variety of issues that the skin can have throughout your dog’s life. Skin diseases are one of the most common problems that dogs come into the clinic for and can be either a short, easily treated condition or a chronic condition that needs long-term management.

What are the causes, symptoms and diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

A bacterial infection is when the normal bacteria that is always present on your dog’s skin increases in numbers and invades the deeper layers of the skin. This can lead to inflammation and itchiness. It happens when something disrupts the normal skin barrier such as allergies or wounds. Symptoms can include excessive scratching, red skin, pus-filled bumps and red raised bumps. Diagnosis can range from taking samples to be looked at under the microscope to taking swabs and culturing the area.

What are the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworm?

Ringworm is caused by a fungus that can be picked up from another animal or from an environment that is contaminated with the fungus. Symptoms can include scratching, red or crusty skin and hair loss (sometimes in the shape of a ring). There are a variety of treatments including cream applied to the affected area, medicated shampoos and oral medications.

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Allergies occur when the immune system becomes sensitized to something that it should not. It can occur over a long period lasting months or even years. Allergies can be broadly broken down into food allergies or environmental allergies and are typically something that will need to be treated throughout the pet’s life. Treatment for food allergies usually consists of an elimination diet. You can try different types of food to figure out what your dog is allergic to and then have it removed from their diet. Sometimes, this can be as simple as switching to a different protein or grain source. Some dogs need to be on a special hypoallergenic diet.

For environmental allergies, treatment can vary a lot depending on the severity and frequency of symptoms. The goal is to improve the skin barrier, try to avoid the allergen if possible and ultimately relieve the symptoms. Some dogs need different shampoos, creams or spot treatments. Some dogs take medications orally or injections to help improve symptoms. There are also veterinary dermatologists that deal with more complex or severe allergies.

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

Parasitic diseases can range from fleas to mites. Two different types of mites that can be seen in the area are Sarcoptes Scabiei and Demodex. Sarcoptic mites picked up from another dog or an infected animal can cause excessive scratching, hair loss and red, crusting skin. Sarcoptes is treated with medication to kill off the mites.

Demodex mites are normally found on a dog’s skin at low numbers but genetics or a compromised immune system cause their numbers to get out of control. They are treated with medication to decrease their numbers so that younger dogs are given time to let their immune systems mature. For older dogs, it is crucial to identify and treat the underlying disease that is compromising the immune system.

Fleas are picked up from an infested animal or environment. For fleas, it is important to treat your dog with medication to help kill off the adult fleas and prevent them from reproducing in addition to treating the environment where the eggs and larvae would be.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

The causes of hormonal skin disease are due to an imbalance of reproductive hormones – either too much or too little. The treatment is to supplement levels if they are too low or to reduce the number of hormones produced if they are too high. It can happen with both estrogen (female sex hormone) or androgen (male sex hormones).

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