Apart from parasites are there any other causes of skin disease in dogs?

April 13, 2012

Small patches of hairless skin, inflamed skin, crusty black lesions would certainly mar the appearance of the beloved pet. But what can be more heart breaking than the intense scratching and the pitiful whining that shows the distress of the dog? These are some of the symptoms of skin disease in our canine friends. Skin diseases are commonly caused by fleas, ticks, mites and lice. These external parasites are the bane of existence not only of the dogs but of the owners as well. External parasites can easily be dealt with. Aside from enhancing the bond between master and pet, regular grooming will make the owner aware of external parasite infestation. Once immediate and proper treatment is given the skin disease caused by external parasites can be easily cured. However, not many dog owners are aware of the fact that skin disease in dogs has other causes aside from parasites. Other causes of dog skin diseases are fungal, bacterial, allergic and hormonal abnormalities.

Pyodermas or bacterial skin infection are caused by the Staphylococci bacteria. The skin disease is a secondary problem that develops once the surface of the skin is opened or damaged by scratching or chewing. The bacteria will enter and thrive in the moist and warm area resulting to swelling of the affected area, pain and intense itching and pus discharge. Bacterial infection makes the fur and the skin abnormally oily causing an abhorrent odor. Skin disease in dogs can also be due to fungal infection. Two species of fungi, the Microsporum and Trichophyton cause a skin disease that is commonly called “ringworm.” Dogs are continuously exposed to these fungi as they are found in the soil. Dogs with weak immune system are susceptible to this type of skin disease. The infection causes a circular red welt with raised outer edges giving the impression that a small worm is lying beneath the skin. The fungi thrive on hairs, nails and dead skin tissues forming circular patches. The dry and crusty ringworms would usually start forming on the head and legs. If left untreated, the infection would spread to the other parts of the body. Fungal skin infection unlike bacterial infection is contagious to humans. Infected dogs must be kept away especially from children and from other pets until fully cured. Oral and topical antibiotics, antiseptic and fungicidal shampoos are commonly used to treat bacterial or fungal skin infections. The hair around the lesions must be clipped as well. Protective collars and bandages may be used to prevent the dog from further scratching and chewing the affected areas. Skin diseases of these kinds respond to treatments at once but it is highly recommended to continue with the treatment and with the vet visit as these skin diseases commonly recur.

Sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, stomach upsets as well as itchy skin that develop into skin lesions are indicative of hypersensitive reactions to allergens. The food, pollen or mold inhaled by the dog and other substances and chemicals in the environment can cause the compulsive scratching and licking that would open the skin and allow bacterial and fungicidal infection to set in. Excessive or under production of hormones is considered to be the most difficult cause of skin disease to diagnose. When the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, ovaries and testicles malfunctions, changes in the skin and in the hair occur. Skin diseases caused by hormonal abnormalities are not terribly itchy. Hair loss and change in the color of the coat will be noticed. However, treatment will still be necessary as serious body functions are expected to be affected as well.

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