Animals, like humans, get itchy once in a while. But constant scratching, licking, and biting could be a sign that your dog may have a skin problem. Although the cause varies, it is important to consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment. Here is a list of some of the most common skin problems.
Allergic Dermatitis is a general term used to label common skin allergies. The most common causes of AD include fleabites, food allergies and atopy—an allergy caused by inhalation or skin absorption of allergens. Dogs with AD scratch incessantly and may expose their skin through their fur. Corticosteroids may help reduce itchiness, but a veterinarian can prescribe the best treatment plan.
Ringworm earned its name due to the circular patches that it leaves on the infected area. Ringworm is contagious between pet and owner or amongst other dogs. It is normally found around the head, paws, ears and legs. Puppies younger than one year of age are most susceptible.
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of their host. Owners can spot ticks with a naked eye and are best-removed using tweezers by gripping as close to the skin as possible—make sure to remove the head. An easy way to kill the tick is to put it in a sealed container with alcohol. Remove ticks as quickly as possible. Long-term blood loss can lead to weakness and anemia—some even carry nasty diseases like Lyme disease.
Flaky skin is commonly noticeable along the spinal cord. Dry white flakes, like dandruff, rest on top of the fur. Flaky skin is not a serious condition, but may be a sign that your dog may need a better diet. Higher quality dog food and higher-fat diets can improve coats and skin conditions. If persistent, consult a veterinarian.
Also known as mites, mange is a skin disorder caused by these tiny parasites. The term “mange” refers to the poor condition of the hairy coat due to the infection. Sarcoptic Mange can transfer to dogs and owners, but not to worry: the parasite does not survive on human bodies. Symptoms include red skin, sores, hair loss, and extreme itching. Infected dogs must be isolated from others and their beds require a deep cleaning. A veterinarian can prescribe the best topical medicine or oil to treat this condition.
Acral Lick Granuloma
Known as a “dermatology nightmare”, incessant licking of the same spot causes this skin condition. It starts as innocent self-grooming and turns into raw skin exposure. The most common area includes licking the front part of the lower leg. Treatment is not easy and the best healing method is to discourage licking. Owners can use an Elizabethian (cone) collar or a bad tasting topical over the exposed area.