Dog Skin Care

Skin, ears and feet are a common complaint. Sometimes it is a ‘one-off’ situation, but all too often it becomes a pattern. Our skin consults are often a longer appointment, so we can get a treatment plan together that will work for you and your pet.

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

The most common cause for a bacterial skin infection (pyoderma) is an overgrowth of the bacteria that is normally found on dog’s skin. The question is why did this happen? It can happen with any disruption of normal fauna – allergic skin disease and mange, self-trauma, the wrong shampoo, fleas and hormonal imbalances. Symptoms are often itching. The lesions range from a red papule to a transient pustule, to a collarette – a circular scab or crust. Diagnosis is based on physical exam, history, looking for markers of underlying causes and depending on all of that, further testing may be necessary.

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

Ringworm is a fungal infection that is not very common, but it is contagious. It can look typical, as in a circular dry and itchy lesion with hair loss, or atypical, like a raised granuloma. Diagnosis is made by performing a fungal culture. Treatment can be with a topical cream if localized, or with oral antifungal medications in conjunction with clipping and bathing.

What are the causes and treatment for allergic skin diseases?

That is a million dollar question. In cases of allergic skin disease, about 10% would be due to a food allergy, the remaining 90% would be due to atopy – or allergens in the environment. It is also believed that dogs with allergic skin disease have a faulty skin barrier function. Diagnosis is often based on history, physical exam, ruling out other issues and response to treatment. Treatment depends on severity and ranges from topical products, immunomodulating medications, and immunotherapy. Allergic skin disease is a frustration for owners and their pets, and often their vets too; it is truly a case of where the partnership between veterinary care and home care becomes so important.

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

Parasites, fleas, demodectic mange, sarcoptic mange, cheyletiella, and lice can all cause itching, leading to secondary infections. And most of them are contagious. The good news is that many of our monthly summer preventatives will treat and prevent many of these parasites. Indeed, when we are faced with an itchy dog, the first thing we need to rule out is ectoparasites.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

The most common hormonal diseases that have implications for the skin in dogs, are hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism. These are tested for and confirmed with blood work. Both diseases can be treated and do need further monitoring for life.

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