Complexity of Skin Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment.

As vets and vet nurses, we wish we had one simple solution for your pet’s skin problems, but multiple diagnostic tests and elimination trials may be needed to reach the diagnosis.  

‘What causes skin disease in dogs?’

There are a number of causes for skin disease in dogs including:

  • Parasites such as fleas or mites
  • Allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, plants, mould, insects and grass
  • Allergies due to food, preservatives or ingredients in human or animal products
  • Bacteria or yeast overgrowth, either as a primary problem, or secondary to an allergy
  • Underlying medical or genetic conditions that can contribute to poor skin health.

With a list of factors that complex, you can start to see why it often takes more than one test or elimination trial before we find the cause.

‘Many diseases look the same, and one disease can look many different ways – it’s tricky!’

The skin can only react to a problem in limited ways, such as redness, itching, hair loss, pustules or nodules. Therefore, many different diseases may cause the same change to the skin: food allergies, scabies mites and bacterial infections all cause itch, but require very different treatments!

Additionally, one disease can have several different symptoms, such as Demodex mites causing hair loss, redness and pustules.

Once a diagnosis is reached, your vet may recommend one or more treatments, and for dogs with certain skin conditions, treatment may need to continue for life.

Even after diagnosis, regular check-ups may be needed. When your dog’s skin condition “flares up” we recommend speaking with your vet, who may do some more testing to see whether the condition has changed, or whether secondary infection is present that needs specific treatment. This will ensure your pet’s skin heals effectively and results in shorter treatment periods. This not only saves money in the long run but most importantly, makes your pet feel better, sooner.

‘How can I prevent skin disease in my dog’

Unfortunately, this is not always preventable, but there are steps we can take at home to minimise certain factors.

For animals with allergies, bathing with Aloveen Shampoo will help to remove allergens from the coat and soothe dry, irritated skin. For animals prone to skin infections, bathing with Malaseb Medicated Shampoo or Pyohex Medicated Shampoo once a week to once a fortnight all year round, can reduce bacteria and yeast numbers and prevent overgrowth.

For more information on skin disease please speak with one of our vets or nurses or make an appointment today.

Hotspot season – Summer

Does your dog suffer from “hotspots”? Also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, or acute moist dermatitis. Hotspots are lesions of the skin caused by the dog biting or scratching to relieve an itch. They can develop into large ulcerated lesions in just a few hours.

Underlying causes of hotspots may be flea hypersensitivity, allergies, foreign bodies in the coat like grass seeds, and even muscle or joint pain.

Dogs with heavy coats and dense undercoats may be more likely to develop the condition. However, they can occur in any dog and are more common in hot humid weather, as the name suggests.

If you suspect your dog has a hotspot, or any skin irritation, it is essential to see your vet for a consultation. Hotspots can be painful, and your dog may need to be sedated to have the area clipped and treated. Clipping the affected area allows us to see the extent of the lesion and ensures we treat that area effectively.

Staphylococcal bacteria, a normal-bacteria on the skin of dogs, quickly colonises the area and an antiseptic are required to treat this. Chlorhexidine is an effective antiseptic for staph bacteria and is the active ingredient in the Dermcare Pyohex range.

A combination of Pyohex Medicated Shampoo and Pyohex Medicated Conditioner may be part of your dog’s treatment plan. Once the hot spot has resolved, your vet may recommend using the Pyohex range once a week to once a fortnight throughout the summer months, to keep the coat clean, remove allergens, and prevent reoccurrence of infection.

If you have any questions about hotspots, or how to prevent them over
summer, please give our friendly nurses a call here at the clinic.

Breed Concerns

Breeds with excessive skin such as bulldogs, Shar Pei’s, pugs, and Persian cats are likely to develop skin conditions within the bunched-up skin. This area is often moist which becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

Washing your pet in soothing shampoo and conditioner, specifically for pets such as Aloveen, can ease inflammation of the skin. Ensure that you thoroughly dry the pet after the wash, especially in the creases of the skin.

Inflammation around your pet’s eyes can be a major concern and should be addressed with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Otic Concerns

Some pets are prone to ear infections. This may be from swimming, persistent mites, persistent bacterial or fungal infections. Generally, if your pet has an ear infection, treatment may include an antibiotic course and cleansing of the ear. If the infection is severe, your pet may require an anaesthetic, so the veterinarian can wash and treat your pet’s ear thoroughly.

Routine at-home health checks can be beneficial to help discover health concerns in your pet before they become too severe. Speak to our team about how you can perform health checks at home on your pet.

Skin Allergy

Skin allergy may be caused by fleas, grass, plants, or other environmental factors. There are several ways that you can minimise these environmental factors to reduce the burden on your pet including medicated shampoos, non-steroidal medication, and skin allergy testing with your vet.

Food Allergy

There are many types of foods that can help your pet reduce its exposure to allergens in the foods that they eat. Finding out what they are allergic to is a process of elimination, which is generally done by starting the animal on a hypoallergenic diet, then slowly introducing different types of foods to determine the one that may be causing a problem. By removing all allergens first, the symptoms of your pet’s allergy is reduced faster, leading to a happier life.

Topical Skin Wash

There are many different washes available for various skin conditions. If you need advice on which wash may work best for your pet, please contact our team. Some are not safe to use on pets and can make them ill, regardless of the label claims. Please consider pet washes only from reputable brands and do not use human brands. Pets’ skin has a different pH to humans and has sensitivities to different chemicals.

For general skin care, we use and recommend the Dermcare range, which has medicated and regular pet bathing solutions.