Your dog’s skin is vital to their health and wellbeing. It works as one of the first parts of the immune system, creating a barrier between the vital workings of your dog’s body and the germs that can be present in the outside world. This means you want to make sure your canine friends are free from any nasty dog skin conditions, so they can be as happy and healthy as possible. There is nothing better than stroking a beautiful healthy dog, with a glossy, full, thick coat that shines in the light and feels soft and smooth under your hand. A dog with dandruff and itchy skin and a dry, dull, thinning coat is not going to look or feel at his best, so we are going to look at information concerning some common dog skin problems.
Signs and symptoms of skin problems and sensitive skin in dogs
One of the easiest to spot symptoms of a skin problem or sensitive skin is an itchy dog. A dog that is spending much more time than usual scratching and biting at themselves is not a comfortable dog. If you are looking for advice on dealing with dog itchy skin have a look at our article on itchy skin in dogs.
Among other signs that all is not well on the skin of your dog, itchy ears can indicate a problem. Although most of our canine friends regularly shed hair, a large amount of hair loss, possibly resulting in bald patches is a sign of potential trouble. Dry, flaky skin is also a sign that there could be an issue with your dog’s skin, resulting in either from scratching and biting irritating the skin or as a symptom of another cause. Some skin problems will give off an odour, particularly a musty, unpleasant kind of smell.
To recap, the signs and symptoms of skin problems and sensitive skin in dogs include:
- Itching (Especially at the ears)
- Hair loss
- Dry, flaky skin
- Particularly musty odour
What could be the cause of my itchy dog?
The first thing that comes to mind when we see our dogs furiously scratching and nibbling at themselves is parasites like fleas and ticks. Many owners routinely treat to prevent these parasites occurring.
Assuming that your dog is free of those, there is a wide range of other potential causes to consider. Sensitive skin can even be in your dog’s genetic make-up! Some dogs have in their genes a greater likelihood of reacting strongly to some of the allergens that surround us and our dogs, for instance, dust mites or pollen.
If you use air conditioning in the summer or central heating in the winter, have you ever noticed your skin drying out? The same thing can happen for dogs, as the drying effect on the air also dries out skin and can make it sensitive and prone to irritation.
If your dog seems to be concentrating their attention on their ears or their paws, a yeast infection may be to blame. Yeast requires warmth to grow, which is why these warm spots are a prime site. Check for irritated itchy and discoloured patches of skin in the area.
Moist dermatitis, also called ‘hot spots’ can occur as a result of a number of irritations, including allergic reactions, infections or anything that causes the dog to bite or chew an area excessively, causing red, inflamed areas. This can also arise from a case of allergic dermatitis, dry and itchy skin patches caused by the dog have a reaction to something like an environmental irritant or a food ingredient.
Seborrhoea is a condition that usually signposts another medical problem that the dog has, for example, a hormonal problem or allergy. Seborrhoea causes the skin to become scaly and greasy in appearance.
Mites can cause mange, sometimes known as canine scabies. Mange most frequently shows on the face, ears and legs, with the dog appearing itchy, skin red and with sores appearing, accompanied by hair loss.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that shows as circular patches of inflamed skin and hair loss on the skin, usually the head, ears, legs or paws, although they can appear anywhere on the skin.
Folliculitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the hair follicles, looking like scabby bumps on the skin. It is much easier to spot in short hair. Signs to look for in long-haired dogs are a dull coat and excessive shedding.
Impetigo mostly appears in puppies and is a bacterial infection that shows as blisters that can burst open and then form a crust.
Different seasons can prompt different conditions that cause sensitive skin, much as humans suffer from seasonal allergies. In the spring and summer is when allergic reactions tend to occur, with the higher exposure to grasses and pollen, while autumn and winter see more issues concerning dry skin.
Large bald spots on a dog could be alopecia. This condition that causes large amounts of hair loss can be the result of illness, stress or inadequate nutrition.
Diet can be a factor in sensitive skin. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to react strongly to some allergens, and food intolerances can lead to digestive conditions like IBS, gastroenteritis or colitis, meaning that food may not be digested and absorbed properly and the dog does not receive all the nutrients needed. The quality of ingredients in the food is also important, as poor-quality ingredients, like many found in kibble, make for less than ideal nutritional content.
The potential causes of sensitive skin in dogs include:
- Air conditioning
- Yeast infection
- Poor diet
Sensitive skin in dogs treatments
As with any medical condition, the first port of call should be your vet, to check your dog’s health and diagnose if the sensitive skin is the result of a medical treatment that needs medication. Make sure to keep on top of creepy crawlies that might irritate your dog’s skin, checking regularly for the presence of fleas, ticks or mites. Talk to your vet about the best way to prevent or treat parasite infestations if they should occur. Once the vet has given your pet the all clear, the question for our furry friends becomes how to cure dogs’ itchy skin.
A visit to the groomers may not be cheap, but good groomers are likely to have seen plenty of skin issues and can advise on how to help get coat and skin back into good condition, and get your dog started back on the journey to healthy skin and a shiny coat. Ensure if you wash your dog at home that you use an appropriate dog shampoo designed for sensitive skin. Be careful not to over-do the washing as that can strip the natural oils from the skin and cause it to become drier – the last thing anyone wants is for their itchy skin treatment for dogs to make matters worse!
Vitamin E is good for skin, and you can get some from your vet to rub directly on the affected skin if the problem is localised. Other recommendations include coconut oil or olive oil for dogs’ itchy skin.
Feed a high-quality diet with no artificial ingredients or fillers, which contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are important for skin health. Pure dog food contains nothing apart from healthy, human-grade ingredients and is easy to digest, helping your dog to be healthy on the inside so that they can look their best on the outside.
Pure Pet Food has a range of success stories of dogs with sensitive and itchy skin, get your sensitive skin starter pack today.
Potential treatments for sensitive skin in dogs include:
- Talk to your vet and get a full check-up
- Visit the groomers regularly
- Rub vitamin E, coconut oil or olive oil directly on the affected skin
- Feed a high-quality human-grade diet like Pure
Other dog's stories
We have had lots of great feedback from owners of Pure fed dogs and how their skin has fared since changing over to our food. To have a read yourself, check out our Success Stories page for sensitive skin.