Skin diseases in dogs: five common problems and their solutions


The vast majority of times these can be developed by the arrival of a flea or a parasite in one of its walks.

Skin diseases in dogs are more common than previously thought, they are usually associated with lack of care and grooming in them. But, the vast majority of times these can be developed by the arrival of a flea or a parasite in one of its walks, the quality of the water or food it consumes and the constant changes of temperature to which the dog can be exposed.

An early identification of the disease is important, so that the treatment to be followed is established. When a dog is developing a disease on its skin, symptoms such as hair loss, redness of the skin, excessive thirst and the appearance of white flakes similar to those of dandruff in humans usually occur.

These are the most common diseases that your pet can develop and the care you should take.

1. Food allergy

This is usually one of the most common causes of skin diseases in dogs. Since dogs, like humans have different organisms and not all tolerate the same foods. Tomato, wheat, corn, paprika and dairy products are the elements that have the greatest rejection of their immune system.

In this case the symptoms that pets usually present are severe itching, hair loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and bad breath.

2. Insect bite allergy.

Fleas and ticks, find in the dogs a delicacy to develop all their activities. It is important to detect them in time, since these can bring serious irritations to your skin, and since they jump from one animal to another, they carry a large number of germs and bacteria that can trigger other diseases, especially in your central nervous system.

The symptoms that occur in this case are: Appearance of rashes on your skin, excessive itching, irritation of your skin, hair loss and discomfort to sleep.

This disease is caused by the appearance of a mite or different parasites that cause irritation to the skin of the animal. This disease must be treated quickly, because if left forward it will reach degrees that will hardly be cured.

Sarcoptic mange: It is presented by direct contact between dogs suffering from the disease. It is characterized by the redness of the ears and belly, this can also be spread to humans.

Demodectic mange: In this case the disease is hereditary, that is to say that the male or female during the process of gestation of the dog suffered it and therefore the litter cubs will be born with it. Symptoms range from hair loss, bad odors and inflammation. Normally in these cases, the disease is not contagious.

4. Wet dermatitis

This disease usually develops when fleas and ticks are not treated on time. The most common symptoms are: redness, peeling, irritation and appearance of circles of matter in different parts of the body.

The complex thing about this disease is that the symptoms appear in some parts of the body that are imperceptible and difficult to access for dogs, so it generates a feeling of helplessness in the dogs for scratching and not burning the burning sensation.

5. Skin cancer

One of the most serious diseases that can occur. Therefore, an early detection must be carried out so that the effects of it can also be counteracted. The symptoms are quite similar to those of the aforementioned conditions: appearance of balls of matter, excessive hair loss, itching and segregation of fluids.

Fortunately, this disease has a cure with early detection and intensive treatment by a veterinarian.

Tips and recommendations

It is important to keep in mind that when a problem arises in the skin of your dog, you should immediately go to your trusted veterinarian to start the corresponding treatment. However, it is essential to take the necessary precautions so that your dog does not develop these diseases in the future.

1. Periodically go to the veterinarian to perform routine checks on your pet.

2. Feed your pet with natural and healthy products, avoiding low quality concentrate and foods that are not easily digested.

3. Prevent your dog from bathing in rivers or unhealthy places, even though these are a great temptation for him.

4. Always use a dog-specific soap, as these are made of components that are essential for the care of your hair and skin.

5. Dry your pet completely when wet, in order to avoid the development of allergies and the appearance of fungi.

1. Parasites, a source of problems for the dog's skin

Fleas or ticks are guilty of the appearance in the can of various dermatological problems, such as dermatitis.

Fleas that bite the dog cause an itch that results in a compulsive scratch that causes skin irritation called flea bite allergic dermatitis. This condition is characterized by causing inflammation and redness in the skin.

Fleas and ticks cause irritations in the dog's skin that are aggravated when licked and scratched

Fleas and ticks, in addition to causing skin irritation, can cause serious parasitic or infectious diseases in dogs, such as canine ehrlichiosis. Therefore, it is essential to keep these parasites at bay with specific and effective products for dogs, which are also respectful of the animal's skin.

2. Problems in the dog's skin due to allergy

The skin of the can can present problems, such as pruritus (small pimples) and other irritations or redness due to food allergies or external agents, such as pollen.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common allergic skin pathology among dogs. The symptoms that warn of this disease in the dog are: itching, itching, redness and dryness.

Pollen allergy, insect bites and certain foods are the usual causes that trigger this pathology in canine skin.

A diet rich in fatty acids and hypoallergenic feed help dogs with skin problems

A diet rich in fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) with hypoallergenic feed and proper hygiene of the dog favor that dogs suffering from this chronic disease have symptoms under control.

3. Strokes that leave a mark on the dog's skin

Blows, burns, abuses or domestic accidents have consequences for the dog's skin. Depending on the type of lesion in question and its severity, the treatment will consist of the use of antiseptics, dressings, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory ointments, which will be prescribed by the veterinarian.

"Injuries in dogs usually occur in the domestic environment," says Maria Victoria Acha, veterinarian. The kitchen is one of the places in the house where dogs, especially if they are puppies, can suffer accidents that cause them burns, cuts and bumps that affect the skin.

Therefore, it is advisable to avoid access to places where the animal can be injured and suffer dermatological lesions.

4. Tumors and cysts in the skin of dogs

Carcinogenic tumors in the skin (carcinoma), sebaceous cysts, adenomas (similar to a wart) or melanomas (skin blemishes) "are common dermatological conditions in dogs," explains Imanol Sagarzazu, veterinarian and dermatologist. Older dogs, from 11 years old, are more likely to suffer from this type of dermatological pathologies.

The consequences are inflammation, accumulation of fluid or fat inside, redness or darkening of the skin. Therefore, they require specific treatment, depending on the case and degree of severity determined by the veterinarian.

5. Internal diseases affect canine skin

Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, are also reflected in the health of the dog's skin

If vital organs such as the dog's liver are sick, the skin reflects the inner state of the dog through its color or texture. Metabolic diseases, such as Cushing's syndrome, diabetes in dogs and hyperthyroidism also affect the health of canine skin, which can result in ulcers, sores and difficult wound healing.

These types of metabolic diseases are more common in older dogs - from the age of 11.

Three simple guidelines for the dog to have healthy skin

Some tips help the dog keep his skin in shape.

External deworming of the dog to avoid fleas and ticks.

Baths with appropriate products and as often as necessary, because excess water and soap can also damage the skin and unbalance its pH.

Badly healed wounds are an open door for skin infections, so it is advisable to clean them and prevent the dog from licking.


Fleas. When a flea bites a hairy saliva causes an itchy skin reaction. If your animal is allergic to fleas, the problem can spread throughout the body. The best treatment is to prevent.

Scabies. This disease causes extreme itching and skin rashes. The veterinarian will send you a treatment for your animal but keep in mind that you must also disinfect clothes, furniture and carpets in your home.

Demodex A large number of these mites can cause skin disorders. Dogs with a weak immune system can develop hair loss, sores and inflamed skin.

Tub. It is a very contagious fungal disease that is easily transmitted from animals to humans. It causes itching, hair loss and inflammation.

Seasonal or food allergies. They can be difficult to diagnose because of their varied symptoms. Take a list of foods and snacks that your pet ingests to the vet, tell him the time of the year in which more symptoms appear, what tissue is his bed, with what detergent you wash his clothes or bed, what shampoo you use to bathe him ...

Skin infections. It occurs when opportunistic bacteria enter the body through abrasions. They can cause pain, itching, bleeding and often require powerful antibiotics to be treated.

Toilet products. Certain shampoos, colognes or hygiene products can irritate our friend's skin. Be sure to give him the special products for his breed and / or consult your veterinarian to recommend which product is best for your skin type.

Stress or boredom. If you lick or bite, especially the legs, it is a response to anxiety or boredom. Dogs are given stress by separation, changes in the home ... If they do not have enough metal or physical occupation they can self-injure and create redness or wounds.

Metabolic diseases. Some affect the glands, such as Addison's disease, with symptoms such as changes in the hair layer or skin discoloration.

Hormonal problems Some dogs' reproductive hormones can cause alopecia or widespread hair loss. Short-haired breeds such as Chihuahua or mini Pischer are prone to alopecia.

Neurological disorders Certain disorders of the brain, spinal cord or nerves can lead to unexplained bites or skin scratches. When the signals that go from the brain to the peripheral nerves are altered they can cause pain, itching or a strange sensation that causes the dog to bite or scratch too much. Other neurological diseases can attack the brain and skin cells.

Why does my dog ​​have irritated skin?

To know what to do if your dog has irritated skin, the first thing will be to know the causes that can cause that irritation. In general we will be before dermatitisthat is the skin inflammation They can cause allergies, contact with irritating substances or parasites, especially fleas. All these disorders can affect dogs of any age to a greater or lesser degree and it should be our veterinarian who, after reviewing the dog and the relevant tests, determines the diagnosis. To help you in this task we can observe aspects such as the following, which will provide very important information for the diagnosis:

  • Data on the lifestyle of our dog, that is, in which environment he lives or walks, when, how long, what is his relationship with other animals, etc.
  • Feeding.
  • Antiparasitic that you use and your calendar of use, as well as if you have been taking or taking any medication. If our dog has been treated for skin irritation before, we must also notify the veterinarian.
  • How irritation started and if it is the first time it occurs or is a relapse.
  • Take into account if it occurs only at a certain time of the year or in any one.
  • See if it exists presence of pruritus and if this is mild, moderate or intense.
  • Check the dog to see if the irritation is located to some area or, on the contrary, is widespread. In the latter case, you have to know what the speed of the extension has been.
  • It is also important to write down the characteristics of the lesions, such as their shape, their color, the formation or not of wounds, etc.
  • Finally, we must observe if our dog has other symptoms.

In addition to contemplating all these data, the veterinarian will examine our dog and can perform tests such as the observation of hair and skin samples, scrapes, cultures, examination with the Wood lamp (discriminates the presence of fungi), biopsies or allergy tests . Next we will see the most common causes of skin irritation in dogs.

Atopic dermatitis, the main cause of irritation of the dog's skin

This condition presupposes a predisposition of the dog to develop reactions ofhypersensitivity to different allergens that are going to be located in the environment. The skin will appear irritated, inflamed and itchy as a reaction to mites, pollens, spores, etc. This dermatitis usually occurs in young dogs, aged between 6 months and 3 years. The lesions can be seasonal or maintained throughout the year and these can appear in a generalized way or focus on certain areas such as the face or feet. As the dog is going to scratch, it is easy for wounds, alopecia and other complications secondary to scratching. The picture can also be complicated with the development of otitis or conjunctivitis.

To establish what to do if our dog has irritated skin for this reason we must take into account that it is a treatable but not curable disease, which means that the treatment will be for life. Thus, contact with allergens should be avoided if possible. In general, atopic dermatitis is treated with baths, hypoallergenic diet and with fatty acids, scrupulous control of fleas (we will see that these parasites can be a source of dermatitis) and immunotherapy in recommended cases, that is, administration of vaccines. Medication to control itching or drugs against potential associated infections may also be prescribed during crises. It is a relatively frequent disorder.

Dog skin irritation due to food allergy

Occasionally, skin irritation has its origin in the hypersensitivity reaction to allergens present in food, such as meats, dairy products, cereals, soybeans, eggs, fish or some additives. It is another frequent dermatitis in dogs and has as its basic characteristic the itching in different parts of the body, which, as we have seen, may be responsible for secondary scratch injuries (autotraumatisms). It can also be complicated with otitis and, to a lesser extent, gastrointestinal signs.

In this case, what can we do if our dog has irritated skin? Offer you a elimination diet. This consists of feeding it for a minimum of 6 weeks with food that you have not tried before, for which you can resort to a homemade diet or any of those that are in the market specially formulated for these cases, hypoallergenic or hydrolyzed. If with the new diet the symptoms remit and return if we provide the original diet, the diagnosis will be confirmed. The treatment will consist of avoid food or food that trigger allergy. To identify them, we can redo the elimination diet, this time, based on a single source of protein to identify whether it is a type of meat or fish. However, the most effective is usually to go to the veterinarian to submit the animal to allergy testing. It should be noted that this type of allergy can appear at any age.

Irritation from allergic dermatitis to flea bites

In this dermatitis the dog reacts to antigens found in flea saliva. Thus, a single sting is enough for the irritation to be triggered. This problem can affect dogs of different ages and at any time of the year, since the conditions of most homes allow fleas to survive in any month.

The irritation will appear in the lumbosacral area, that is, approximately on the tail and the last part of the loin, although it can also extend to the sides or abdomen. As in the previous dermatitis, we will see that the dog has irritated skin and scratches a lot, which will produce injuries such as wounds or alopecia. The diagnosis is relatively simple when finding fleas on the animal or its remains in the form of black balls that are its droppings. If we wet them, we will see that they are made of blood. Sometimes it is not possible to identify the parasitic presence but the correct diagnosis will be considered if the dog responds favorably to antiparasitic treatment.

In these cases, what to do if the dog has irritated skin, establishes, according to our veterinarian, a strict deworming calendar, in addition to an environmental control to eliminate all phases of the parasite. It is important that all measures extend to all the animals that live together. You have to use products that eliminate adult fleas and inhibit immature forms.

My dog ​​has irritated skin and scratches a lot - Sarcoptic mange

It is a dermatitis caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei in which we will see that the dog has irritated skin and scratches a lot, because this condition produces a very intense itching whereby the dog literally can't stop scratching. In addition, it is a very contagious disease, and can affect dogs, cats and humans, especially the smallest, elderly or previously ill. It greatly affects the area of ​​the elbows and ears and, as in the rest of pruritic dermatitis, we will see alopecia and autotraumatisms by scratching, as well as scabs.

The diagnosis can be reached by direct visualization of the mite under the microscope after taking a sample by scraping. Keep in mind that this observation is not always possible, so in these cases the diagnosis is confirmed when the animal responds to the treatment. Due to the risk of contagion, it is recommended to treat the environment, vacuum frequently and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the animal.

Recommendations to relieve the irritated skin of a dog

In addition to the above indications depending on the underlying cause, if we still wonder what to do if our dog has irritated skin or how to calm the irritated skin of a dog, we can follow a series of recommendations such as:

  • Go to the vet as soon as possible, as this will prevent the dog from self-harm and, consequently, the picture gets worse.
  • We must not apply any drug on irritated skin, it could be counterproductive, as well as making diagnosis difficult.
  • Nor should we bathe the dog before having a diagnosis that allows us to use the most appropriate shampoo. Remember that it is not good to wash dogs very often, unless these baths are part of the treatment. However, if for any reason we can not go to the specialist immediately, our dog has irritated skin and scratches a lot, an emergency or first aid measure can be an oatmeal bath.
  • We can apply as a first aid cold packs (but not frost) if the animal's skin is very hot to the touch.
  • Vegetable oils with moisturizing properties such as olive oil can also help relieve the irritation of our dog's skin.
  • We have to scrupulously follow the treatment prescribed by our veterinarian.
  • Supplements or foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids help relieve itching and improve skin health.
  • The prevention of irritations will depend on its cause. In general, it will include measures such as periodic deworming, hypoallergenic diets, avoid walks in the hours of greatest presence of pollen in the environment, hygiene and, above all, rapid veterinary assistance so that the problem is not aggravated.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to What to do if my dog ​​has irritated skin?, we recommend that you enter our Skin Problems section.

Shar pei and bulldog, very delicate skin breeds

Certain dog breeds have greater genetic predisposition to suffer dermatological problems, such as allergy or atopic dermatitis. The physical characteristics of certain breeds, which have folds in the skin, such as shar Pei or bulldog, become a weak point of these dogs.

The friction that occurs with skin wrinkles causes irritation and is a breeding ground for the accumulation of bacteria that can cause infections.

Chow chow, west highland terrier and the beagle are other breeds that require special dermatological care to avoid allergies, itching or irritation.

Quality feed and adequate hygiene are issues that the owners of these races can take into account to keep the skin of your animals healthy.

Symptomatology of dermatitis

The easiest way to determine if a dog has atopic dermatitis is because You can see visibly reddened or hives.

Further, the dog will scratch frequently, granites will appear and the skin may dry out. You should keep in mind that, although foods are the main causes of allergies, they can also present them by external agents, such as pollen or insect bites.

Allergic reactions they usually appear first in an area and gradually expand. The most common areas are the ears, armpits, belly and English.

Usually there is first a redness or irritation that ends up being blistered. It is important to take care of wounds on the skin, as these tend to become infected.

You should watch your dog when it presents a skin lesion due to an allergy, since, Due to the stinging that it produces, it tends to scratch or bite the area frequently and insistently, so it ends up worsening the injuries, and you can even lose hair in the areas.

It is important to identify the origin of allergies, because In severe cases, they can affect problems other than skin. For example, inflammation of the respiratory system, asthma, gastric or eye diseases may occur.

Intolerance or food allergies

Something you should keep in mind is that there are two types of reactions to food that should not be confused, even though the treatment is the same:

  • Intolerance to the components of one or more elements of your dog's diet It usually leads to vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Allergies, on the other hand, tend to cause the type of reactions we have listed above due to any allergen present in the food that caused a dermal reaction.

In these cases a elimination diet, to try to identify the kind of food that generates the allergy. In addition, external factors and other problems must also be ruled out.

Many dogs tend to develop allergy to products made industrially, such as feed, so it is suggested to buy specialized food (or hypoallergenic), which tends to improve the problem in a remarkable way.

If difficulties continue to occur even with the use of specialized feed, it is best to replace these with a homemade diet.

How to act against an allergic skin reaction

In addition to starting the elimination diet, there are some actions you can take to relieve symptoms a bit that your dog suffers.

Initially, It is suggested to take the dog immediately to the veterinarian in case you detect any kind of inconvenience in your pet's skin. This will recommend the appropriate treatment for him.

Remember it's better Do not medicate your dog or apply anything to the wounds until it is evaluated by the vet. It is also advisable to clean and keep the area dry to prevent the proliferation of bacteria.

There are races that are more prone to allergies, such as the boxer, the labrador, the German shepherd and the schnauzer.

Remember that you should not use medicines for humans in your dog, including ointments. Usually, the cutaneous problems of nutritional origin are treated through the replacement of the diet, while controlling that the can is not scratched excessively and while ointments are applied to the affected areas.