Bacterial Skin Infections (PYODERMAS)
- Staphylococci (‘Staph bacteria’) are the most common organisms found in bacterial skin diseases (pyoderma's) in dogs. Fortunately, these bacteria (S. intermedius) are not contagious to humans or other pets.
- Commonly itchy, yellow pustules are often observed early in the disease, and the dog’s skin can be reddened and ulcerated. Dry, crusted areas appear as the condition advances, along with loss of hair in the affected areas (lesions) and an odour.
Fungal Skin Infections (Ringworm)
- The fungal skin infections of dogs are caused primarily be two species of fungi: Microsporum and Trichophyton. The skin diseases resulting from these fungi are commonly called ‘ringworm.’
- Ringworm is seen most commonly in young dogs. The fungi live in dead skin tissues, hairs and nails. Hair loss, usually in circular patches, may appear. If infected, the center of the patches may have a dry, crusty appearance. The head and legs are most commonly affected by ringworm, although the disease may spread over other parts of the dog’s body if not treated. Dogs may scratch the lesions.
Allergic Skin Diseases
Allergies in dogs are common. Signs such as itchy skin, nasal and eye discharges and sneezing, and/or digestive upsets and/or skin lesions may indicate an allergy is present. Many skin diseases seen in dogs are caused by an allergy.
Skin allergy in dogs is more prevalent in certain areas of the country.
A warm, humid climate seems to be the worst for allergies because of conditions that encourage fungal and bacterial growth, as well as being the perfect climate in which fleas thrive year round. A dog suffers skin allergies in much the same way that we suffer respiratory allergies; the dog's skin responds to the same type of allergens: pollen, dust, household chemicals and certain foods, and the allergic reaction, even from inhaled irritants, will be manifested on the dog's skin. While it is not our job to diagnose, we can certainly make the owner aware of the problem and perhaps, through experience, recommend some steps to be taken to remedy the problem.
About 10% of all canine allergies are food allergy. There is little we can do to help out with this one, other than to recommend the owner see a vet for skin testing and/or try changing the pet's diet (usually to a lamb & rice formula). You may also experience allergy in cats, which manifests itself in raised, scabby patches about the head, ears and neck. Again, there is little we can do aside from informing the owner of the find.
Parasitic Skin Diseases
- Fleas are the most common parasitic skin disease found in dogs. Mange is another type of skin disease which is caused by mites. There are two severe types of mange: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange.
- Ear mites, lice, and ticks are other parasites that affect dogs. Their presence irritates the dog, leading to self-mutilation.
- Sarcoptic mange causes intense itching, loss of hair and crusting of the skin. A dog’s ears, front legs, chest and abdomen are most often affected by sarcoptic mange.
Hormonal Skin Diseases
Skin diseases caused by hormonal abnormalities in dogs are difficult to diagnose. The thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, testicles and ovaries all produce hormones. If excessive (‘hyper’) or deficient (‘hypo’), these hormones produce changes in the skin and hair coat. Most hormonal problems that affect the skin produce hair loss that is evenly distributed on each side of the dog’s body. The skin may be thicker or thinner than normal, and there may be changes in the color of the skin or hair coat. These diseases usually are not itchy.
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