Skin problems are the most common complaint we see at Animal Medical Center. From itching to infection, we diagnose and treat multiple dogs on a daily basis. Because of this, it is important to discuss common skin problems so you know when we need to help.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DOG SKIN DISEASE?
Listed below are the common signs we see in the clinic. These symptoms lead us to certain tests and treatments to restore skin health.
- paw licking
- shaking the head
- pawing at ears
- scabs and crusts
- scale and dandruff
- hair loss
- oily skin
WHAT ARE THE SKIN DISEASES IN DOGS?
We see a wide variety of disease, some curable and some manageable. Some skin diseases simply require some medication for a few weeks and the problem is gone. Others need constant management and life long treatment. Listed below are the most common skin diseases we treat at Animal Medical Center.
- Infection-Whether it be bacteria or fungus, we treat for infection regularly. In some cases, the infection is just a symptom of another problem. Others, it is a simple case where a few weeks of treatment cures the dog.
- Fleas and ticks-We see these parasites often. They cause itching, infection and irritation. Simple monthly preventatives provided at our practice keeps these pesky pests from causing disease.
- Atopy-Commonly thought of as basic allergy to things in our environment, atopy is a top diagnosis in our practice. Allergens can include molds, pollens and grasses. We see paw licking, chronic ear infections and itching in these dogs.
- Food Allergy-Some dogs are actually allergic to things in their food. Like people being allergic to peanuts, some dogs are allergic to things like corn, chicken and soy. The difference is that dogs present with the same symptoms as atopy. So it can be difficult to identify the problem.
- Mites-Commonly called “mange,” mites bury in the skin and cause hair loss and sometimes itching. The two we see most are Demodex and Sarcoptes (Scabies.)
- Hormonal (Endocrine) disorders-Sometimes skin problems are secondary to bigger diseases. For instance, hair loss with weight gain and lethargy can be caused by a low thyroid level (hypothyroidism.) Also, hair l oss with a bloated belly and big appetite can be caused by an overactive adrenal gland (hyperadrenocorticism.)
- Cancer-dogs get skin cancer too. This includes squamous cell, melanoma and mast cell tumors.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON DIAGNOSTIC TESTS FOR SKIN DISEASE?
Besides getting a good history from the owner and a thorough physical exam, your veterinarian may run certain tests to diagnose the problem.
- skin scraping-The top layer of the skin is “scraped” with a dull blade. The skin material is then looked at with a microscope to diagnose mites.
- skin impression-The surface of the skin is evaluated under a microscope by rubbing a glass slide on the skin. The slide is then stained. This helps in diagnosis of bacteria and fungus.
- Wood’s light-We use a wood’s light to see certain types of ringworm (fungus.) The hair will glow an apple green.
- Bloodwork- occasionally, blood work is needed to diagnose diseases like hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism.
- Biopsy-in extremes instances, a biopsy of the skin is needed for diagnosis, especially in cancer cases.
- Culture-in persistent infection, we run cultures to see what organism is growing and what medication it is susceptible too.
TREATMENT OF SKIN DISEASE IN DOGS
Treatment is based on the underlying cause. Again, it may be short or long term. Usually, treatment requires a combination of drugs and topical treatments to heal the skin. It does require some patience with some curable cases taking several weeks to heal. It is important to maintain rechecks with your veterinarian during this process. Often the vets at Animal Medical Center use the progress during the rechecks to help with drug changes and future relapses.
If you have any questions or think your dog needs to be checked for skin disease, call 806-794-4118 to make an appointment or make one online by scrolling down.