A dog with multiple skin conditions bites its backside.

8 Common Types of Skin Conditions in Dogs

Guest post from Tails.com

Skin problems are extremely common in dogs. Possible causes can range from parasites and allergies to injuries, and what might start as a scratch can turn into excessive licking and chewing.

Here are the most common symptoms to watch out for:

Our four-legged friends can develop skin conditions in the same way that we do. Unfortunately, they can’t tell us what the issue is, which makes it hard for pet parents to recognize the symptoms right away. While the visual cues are more noticeable, understanding the cause of your pup’s skin condition can be challenging.

Here is a guide to some of the most common skin conditions and how to treat them.

1. Ringworm

This disease, which is not life-threatening, but causes discomfort, requires a visit to the vet, as it is extremely contagious and can be passed to humans or other pets. In both humans and dogs, this fungal infection usually presents itself in circular areas of hair loss across the body. Young, elderly, and long-haired dogs are the most commonly affected. Crusted ringworm lesions typically appear on paws, legs, head, and ears, but they can appear on any part of a dog’s body.

Redness and inflammation may appear on your dog’s skin from where they have irritated the area by scratching and licking. It’s crucial to contact your vet immediately if you spot the signs of ringworm – as they can prescribe you treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.

2. Food Allergies

Skin conditions caused by food reactions occur following ingestion of one or more allergy-causing substances in your dog’s food. A hypoallergenic diet will eliminate the problem ingredients that can cause a reaction for dogs, which include beef, dairy, soy, and wheat. Tails.com has a hypoallergenic dog food formulated specifically for dogs who suffer from food-based allergies.

The physical reaction is excessive non-seasonal itching, often on the face, feet, ears, and anus, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, sores, and baldness due to scratching. Similar to humans who experience food allergies, dogs must have an elimination diet to rule out the potential causes of the allergic reaction. Pet parents must avoid feeding their pups any food substances that cause the symptoms to return.

Medication will be supplied by your vet and they will prescribe a treatment process.

3. Parasites

Parasites in dogs can cause anything from mild irritation to serious illness and can impact your pet’s health and comfort. The most common parasites to infect your dog are fleas and ticks.

Some products intended to fight parasites only kill or defend from fully-grown adult fleas, whereas others get rid of flea eggs before they hatch. Speak to your vet to see what product is best for your pet’s needs.

While common skin conditions such as fleas and ticks are easily recognizable, intestinal parasites can manifest without you realizing it. Internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms can cause dull skin and coat.

4. Yeast Infection

Constant itching and irritation, coupled with an odor, are an indication of a yeast infection. A yeast infection is typically found on the skin or in the ears. This form of infection can cause extreme discomfort, as it is an overabundance of yeast on the body of a dog. Yeast are forms of fungi that live in your dog’s gut without causing illness, when they grow beyond normal rates, dogs will start to suffer from a fungal infection.

Common signs of a yeast infection include: excessive chewing or licking of feet, dark, red hair between the toes, black skin, hair loss, odor from the skin, greasy hair, ear infection, repetitive head shaking, speckles under the belly, and diarrhea.

Yeast infections can develop within the ears or on the skin of dogs suffering from atopy. Hot weather, skin irritation, and pre-existing skin conditions are all factors that can increase the likelihood of a yeast infection.

Despite the common myth, yeast extracts in certain dog foods are there to provide amino acids and B-vitamins in particular and are not the same yeasts that cause a skin infection.

5. Dandruff

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dandruff. While in humans, dandruff affects the scalp area, in dogs it’s most common in the back and towards the tail. If your dog is suffering from dandruff, you will see white flakes on their coat, or in places where they like to relax. You may also find flakes when you are stroking or scratching their coat.

There are a variety of things that can cause dandruff in dogs and any breed can be affected. One of the most common causes is the imbalance of oil produced by the sebaceous glands that keep the skin moist. When too much is produced, it causes seborrheic dermatitis.

But more often, it’s either caused by an underlying health condition or something within the environment. Dandruff can be treated with specialized shampoos, but it’s important to visit the vet as they will check for any underlying conditions. A diet tailored to dry skin or coat will benefit levels of essential fatty acids (such as Omega-3), which will help boost skin health and tackle a dandruff outbreak.

6. Bacterial Infection

Dogs affected by bacterial infections will experience itchy skin, which can become red and have rashes, crusts, and small, pus-filled spots. These infections can also develop internally and externally, whether it be in the lungs or kidneys or on the skin and ears.

Most bacterial infections caught by dogs can be cleared up with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. But, if left untreated, they can lead to severe health issues.

When a dog’s immune system is weakened, it is easier for them to get a bacterial infection. They are most common in puppies and older dogs whose immune system is weaker. Dogs with a poor diet, limited exercise, stress, or other ailments are especially vulnerable.

7. Alopecia

Bald patches, commonly known as alopecia, can be indicative of a larger health issue. There are many causes of alopecia, including a side effect of skin infections like ringworm, bacterial infections, or parasites such as mites, and they can be a result of excessive scratching of the sore and infected areas.

If you start to notice that your pup is losing hair, that can be a symptom of alopecia, but there are some other signs they might display; dry coat, shedding coat, bald patches, inflamed and crusty skin, dandruff, itchy skin, and patches of dark skin.

Treatment is commonly handled with medication.

8. Impetigo

This skin condition is caused by an overgrowth of Staphylococcus bacteria, but it can also be caused by other bacterial strains. Younger dogs are commonly affected, and this condition may lead to lesions on the skin, which can burst and scab over.

If your dog displays the symptoms of impetigo, visit your vet as soon as possible. Impetigo isn’t contagious, so your dog can be around other people and pets. This skin condition is treated with antibiotics.