Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Five Most Common Dog Skin Problems

As with human skin, it takes more than just pampering to keep your dog's skin healthy – to maintain a silky, shiny, beautiful dog skin and coat requires proper nutrition, plenty of exercise, regular brushing and shampooing, and careful and appropriate action when signs of a skin problem occur.
However, even if you follow the basics of proper dog skin care, your dog may still be susceptible to skin conditions from time to time. Here are the five most common dog skin problems and the best way to treat them.

Allergic Dermatitis
A dog can develop allergies from almost anything, including pollen, weeds, mold, dust, insect bites, food, and/or grooming products. Heredity is also a significant contributing factor. Skin allergies among dogs have become more prevalent in recent years, and consequently, have made regular visits to the veterinarian even more important. The principal symptoms of an allergy include intense itching, rashes, and/or skin inflammation, which often make the dog irritable and miserable. As with any health condition, prevention is always the best cure. Once the allergen has been identified, avoid exposing your dog to whatever is causing the allergy. Symptoms can usually be relieved with cortisone based medication.

Yeast Infection
The first sign that your dog has a yeast infection is when you notice your pet shaking or tilting their head, or rubbing their ear with their paws, against furniture, or on the floor. The overgrowth of yeast occurs on the outer ear, causing redness, swelling, scabbing, and a waxy residue around the ear opening. Other indications include unusual eye movements, and walking in circles. A yeast infection is normally caused by water or debris getting trapped in the dog's ear canal after swimming or being bathed. When left untreated, the infection can spread to the middle ear, and then the inner ear, which then affects the dog's equilibrium, and can also lead to deafness. For this reason, it is critical to catch and treat the outer ear infection as soon as possible. Once diagnosed, treatment is simple and effective, and generally involves the use of a topical cream; however, oral drugs and medicated baths may also be prescribed.

If a rancid smell permeates the air every time your dog is nearby, this is a clear indication of oily seborrhea – a skin condition caused by overactive sebaceous glands that lead to the excessive production of sebum. The grease is accompanied by scales of dead skin that stick to the hair.
Seborrhea can also be dry, and cause shedding of dandruff-like flakes. Oily seborrhea can lead to hair follicles becoming plugged and infected, causing another skin condition called folliculitis.
Excessive oiliness often also causes ear wax to build up in the ear canals, resulting in ceruminous otitis. Seborrhea has no cure, but the symptoms can be treated using medicated shampoos. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best product to use, and how often you should treat the condition, depending on its severity. Oral corticosteroids may also be prescribed to treat severe itching.

Ringworm can be easily contracted through physical contact with soil, carpet, furniture, toys, brushes, and combs that are contaminated with the spores of the fungus. Consequently, it is a common skin condition among dogs. The infection affects the hair and hair follicles on the dog's face, ears, tail, and paws. As with a ringworm infection in humans, the condition is characterized by a circular pattern of hair loss that is scaly at the center and ringed with red outside. The fungal infection, in itself, is not itchy; the itchiness is caused by a secondary bacterial infection that also causes scabbing and crusting. Because ringworm can mimic other skin conditions, examination by a veterinarian is important to correctly diagnose the infection. Mild cases of ringworm usually go away on their own, but this generally takes between three and four months. Because the fungal infection is not just contagious to other dogs, and even cats, but also to humans, early diagnosis and treatment is very important. Topical anti-fungal creams or lotions, combined with anti-fungal shampoos, are used to treat the infection, with treatment typically lasting between four and six weeks.

Also called sarcoptic mange or canine scabies, the condition is caused by microscopic mites present on the dog's skin and in the hair follicles. Mites are the most common canine parasites. The skin condition is characterized by hair loss and bald patches that create a polka-dot appearance; scabs and sores also develop. If left untreated, secondary bacterial infections that cause itching and an unpleasant smell can occur. Effective treatment requires correct identification of the type of mites involved; a veterinarian will then prescribe the appropriate anti-parasitic, anti-pruritic, and anti-inflammatory topical, oral, or injected medication. A dog with mange should be isolated to prevent the condition from spreading to other animals and even humans.

Proper skin care is essential to prevent dog skin problems. This includes: using the right kind of soaps and shampoos; regular hair brushing; a healthy, balanced diet that includes supplements; regular flea treatment; completing the required vaccinations and getting other injections to reduce the risk for diseases; keeping the house clean; and regular visits to the vet.

Author: This information about dog skin problems was contributed by Kauffman's Animal Health, Inc. an international animal feed manufacturing company based in Lebanon, USA.

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