Dermatitis In Dogs: 4 Common Skin Issues and Treatments

If you’ve ever had a rash or other skin concern, you know just how frustrating (and itchy!) it can be. This is especially true if you don’t really know what happened or why your skin is reacting that way! The good news is, as humans we can just give our doctor a call, explain our symptoms, and get medication prescribed to take care of it ASAP. Dogs aren’t quite so lucky, though. 

Not only are they unable to speak up and tell us what is wrong, they also can’t understand why they are suddenly so miserable. Seeing your dog go through issues like these and not being able to explain it to them is one of the hardest parts of dog ownership. 

At WINPRO Pet, we’re dog lovers too. That’s why we want to help in any way that we can. Here’s a few of the most common issues that can cause dermatitis in dogs, and what you can do to help your dog through it. 

What The Heck Is Dermatitis, Anyway?

Dermatitis really is just a technical word for tension of the skin.  

Are There Different Types Of Dermatitis?

Because the skin can be affected by all sorts of different issues, there are also different types of dermatitis in dogs that you may find your pup dealing with.

#1) Atopic Dermatitis

One of the most common skin conditions in dogs with dermatitis is atopic dermatitis. In this case, the cause of the redness and itching comes down to allergies. Typically, dogs begin to show their allergic signs between 1 and 3 years of age. Unfortunately, just like us, our pups can be allergic to nearly anything - foods, pollen, shampoos, household cleaners, and even other dogs! 

That can make it really tricky to be able to narrow it down. Breeds that may be more likely to develop atopic dermatitis include Chinese Shar-peis, Golden retrievers, most Terriers, Irish Setters, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and West Highland White Terriers (or Westies). Dogs are most likely to start showing signs between six months and three years old.

Atopic dogs are prone to secondary infections. Skin infections, ear infections and Malassezia (yeast infections) often occur with those who have sensitive skin.  When a dog has atopic dermatitis, the immune system reacts too strongly to common environmental allergens that are absorbed through the skin such as mold spores, dust mites, and grass. Therefore, flea control, careful bathing, and rinsing should be done on a regular basis. 

#2) Flea Allergy Dermatitis

The other most common type of dermatitis in dogs is flea allergy dermatitis (or FAD). There are many dogs who are simply allergic to the saliva in a flea’s mouth so, when they are bitten, it triggers an even bigger reaction than the normal itching and scratching. 

For dogs with FAD, the reaction can start as soon as just 15 minutes after the bite happens, but it can also take up to 48 hours to show. And, just because you don’t actually see fleas on your precious pup doesn’t mean they’re not there.

#3) Dermatitis Mange

Mange is another cause of dermatitis in dogs, and possibly one of the most dreaded for a lot of pet owners. You may also have heard it referred to as scabies. Nothing triggers the feeling of bugs crawling all over you than a mange diagnosis

There are actually two different types of mange - sarcoptic and demodectic. The major difference between the two is where on your pet’s body they live, sarcoptic being in the skin and demodectic in the hair follicle. Sarcoptic mange is also something you can get from your pet, but luckily demodectic mange is by far the most common.

#4) Acral Lick Dermatitis

Acral lick dermatitis often gets confused with hot spots, but there are some differences. Instead of just being a run-of-the-mill skin issue, acral lick dermatitis can get pretty complex. In some cases, it can actually start as the result of boredom or anxious feelings. 

Some professionals even consider it to be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). German Shepherds, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers are a few of the breeds that tend to be more likely to develop this condition. 

What Symptoms To Look For That May Point To Dermatitis In Dogs

Obviously, the only way to get your pet diagnosed with dermatitis is to make a trip to your veterinarian. We’re not diagnosing anything here, but we did want to point out a few symptoms that should trigger you to jump into action. If you notice any of the things we’re about to mention, schedule an appointment right away. 

It’s also a good idea to keep a symptom diary until your pup’s appointment. It could actually help you to narrow down what may be causing the issues! Think of it like doing a little detective work.

  • Increased itching, especially of the ears, face, belly, or underarm areas.
  • Licking and/or chewing on their feet or the base of their tail.
  • Rubbing their face excessively, like on the carpet, their bed, or your legs.
  • A yeasty smell from their feet or their ears.
  • Obviously red and/or greasy skin.
  • “Hot spots” - small sores usually caused by excessive licking.
  • Tough, scaly skin.

You may even notice some hair loss in pups that have been dealing with dermatitis for a longer period of time. It’s also important to note that, not only can our dogs not talk to us and tell us what’s going on and why they’re itchy, they also have a natural tendency to want to hide when they’re not feeling good. 

Pay attention to the subtle signs just as much as the bigger ones, especially if you want to nip dermatitis in the bud before it gets worse (and, usually, it will).

What Can Be Done About Dermatitis In Dogs?

The most important factors in figuring out a game plan for treating your pup’s skin issues are knowing what is causing it and knowing what can prevent it. When you treat the symptoms without actually stopping them from happening again, it’s essentially letting that vicious cycle of itching and relief continue… and who wants that? Certainly not your furry friend. 

Treatment for dermatitis in dogs really depends on the trigger. For instance, you wouldn’t treat a pet dealing with dermatitis by giving them a flea bath, right? That’s why it’s essential to let your vet know what’s going on so that they can help, the right way, with the right treatment options.

Once your pet is as good as new again, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent flare ups from happening. Whether that means you’re willing and able to do full allergy testing, or starting your pet on supplements or flea and tick medication, follow your vet’s advice and be consistent. Unfortunately, with dermatitis in dogs, one little slip up can cause them to get itchy very quickly… and no one will get any sleep! Lowering their stress level can help too, as stress can also negatively affect the immune system!

Keep in mind that treating and managing dermatitis in dogs is often a lifelong commitment, just like your pet. It’s just part of pet ownership, even though it’s not one of the fun parts. 

To Sum It All Up

Dermatitis in dogs can be complicated and frustrating to treat. Being able to narrow down the specific trigger and working on learning how to avoid it in the future can make a huge difference in how successful treatment will be. It’s hard to watch your pup itching and scratching all day long and not being able to help. 

From all of us here at WINPRO Pet, we wish you success in finding out what exactly is making your dog itch! Hopefully the info we presented can help you narrow it down and get your pup back into the lovable, non-itchy bestie that’s such an incredibly important part of your family. 

 

Sources:

Canine Atopic Dermatitis - Integumentary System | Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)

Demodectic Mange in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)

Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment | American Kennel Club (akc.org)