Many pet parents know the frustration and worry of a dog that is constantly itching. Not only is the habit disruptive but if they itch bad enough, it can actually drive dogs to harm themselves in order to “fix” it. Many of us at ViaGen Pets have personally experienced this with our own pet children so we decided to list below a few of the main causes of itchiness and skin problems that we know have affected many of our fellow pet parents.
Mange generally results in hair loss, itching, and thickened, pink skin. In severe cases, puppies or dogs can lose all of their hair and be very uncomfortable. Any case of suspected mange should be treated by your veterinarian. One of the most common types of mange is caused by the Demodex canis mite. It is normal for a dog to have these mites in small numbers and not see any issue. They live their entire lifecycle on the dog and are transmitted from mother to puppy during nursing within the first 72 hours after birth. This type of mange is not considered to be contagious but hereditary predisposition, immunosuppression, and other systemic disease can cause an overgrowth of the mites resulting in obvious hair loss and possible pustules and crusting on the skin. There is a risk for secondary bacterial infections in severe cases. Diagnosing this type of mange focuses on finding the mites via a skin scraping and evaluation under a microscope. Treatment can range from a topical ointment to full-body treatment dips.
The term pyoderma refers to a bacterial infection of the skin. This can occur when a wound is present or it can manifest as a secondary complication if a dog is experiencing another issue. Other problems that can increase the likelihood of pyoderma include thyroid disease, fungal infections, allergies, or mange.
Symptoms of pyoderma can include itchiness, raised lesions, crusted skin and loss of hair. This condition generally responds well to medical treatment and this can include topical treatments as well as oral antibiotics.
This is a fairly common skin condition in pets that is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast species that is normally present on skin. The symptoms can be similar to bacterial infections but also include greasiness of the skin and an unpleasant odor. Treatment for dermatitis caused by yeast infections generally consists of topical treatments and medicated shampoos. The condition can resolve quickly with proper treatment but may require lifetime management in pets that have recurring infections.
There are several allergies in dogs that can lead to skin issues. One of the most common is an allergy to flea bites. In some dogs, flea bites cause more than the normal itchiness and unless exposure to fleas is strictly controlled, the dog may have an almost constant itch that can lead to excessive and harmful scratching.
Dogs can also have food allergies that cause hair loss, itchiness, and dull coat. In many cases, working with your veterinarian can help determine exactly what your dog is allergic to and their diet can be adjusted accordingly.
Dogs are also susceptible to the same airborne allergies that humans are afflicted with in areas with high pollen, mold, and other allergens. Exposure to any of these can cause itchiness and your veterinarian can help you gauge the severity of the response and recommend any treatments that might help alleviate your pet’s discomfort.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects most mammals and is very easily spread from pet to pet and also from pets to humans. Symptoms can include dandruff, poor coat condition, redness of the skin, itchiness, and hair loss that may be in a circular pattern. Diagnosis of ringworm is made by a veterinarian who will perform a fungal culture of a skin and/or hair sample from the pet. Treatment for ringworm usually consists of antifungal medications applied to the skin and it is important to note that while the symptoms may go away a dog can still test positive for ringworm in a fungal culture. For this reason, it is very important to continue to follow up with your veterinarian until they can definitively prove the fungal infection is resolved. This will help insure that the disease has less chance of spreading to any other animals or humans in the household.