5 easy tips for identifying dog skin problems
1. Fleas: The best way to identify a flea problem is to check your pets belly area and along the inside of the back legs. The hair is thinner in this area and easier to spot both fleas and flea dirt. The flea itself is brown or copper colored and roughly the size of a pin-head. Flea dirt looks like sprinkled pepper. Ruffling the fur on your dog's back and along the base of the tail is also an easy way to find fleas and flea droppings. Often times dogs that develop Flea Allergy Dermatitis will show hair loss around the base (top) of the tail. There are many options available for flea and tick control.
2. Food Allergy Dermatitis: Although food allergies can appear in pups as early on as 5 or 6 months, they can also develop in adult dogs as late as 11 or 12 years old. Common symptoms of food allergy dermatitis are itching of the skin, excessive scratching, hot spots and even skin infections. Dog owners should realize that there is a distinct difference between Food Allergies and Food Intolerance. Like people, classic symptoms of a food intolerance would be an upset stomach and diarrhea. All foods do not agree with all dogs. Pink Bismuth is a safe remedy for stomach upset and diarrhea in dogs. Food allergies require slowly eliminating foods and changing the diet.
3. Atopic Dermatitis: A condition caused by environmental allergens. Dogs that suffer with airborne allergies will often rub their face along the side of a sofa or along the carpet. As with food allergies, dogs will also chew their feet. With Atopic Dermatitis, it's common for dogs to develop ear infections due to a yeast overgrowth. Pollen, trees, grass, dust and wool fabric are just a few common airborne allergens that some dogs are sensitive to. Antihistimines are often prescribed.
4. Acral Lick Dermatitis (Lick Granuloma): This raised lesion will be red, hairless and is usually found on the leg of the dog. This neurological condition is self-induced due to continuous licking. Possible causes include anxiety, boredom and stress. Treatment will include identifying the source of the problem (anxiety, etc.), restricting licking of the area and often times medication for behavioral modification.
5. Hot Spots: Medically referred to as Acute Moist Dermatitis, these round lesions generally appear in warmer weather. Along the hip, the sides of the chest and around the head area are the most common locations for hot spots. These moist and hairless inflammations are painful causing the dog to fixate on the particular spot by licking, chewing and scratching at it. Continuous licking in one area is a large factor in the development of hot spots. These lesions can quickly become very large in size. The location of the hot spot will help determine what the underlying problem could be an; anal gland problem, ear problem or a flea problem. A Veterinarian will clip the hair around the spot, clean it with a medicated solution, prescribe antibiotics and pain medicine.
Determining the source of many dog skin problems can be difficult. Skin conditions can be uncomfortable and painful, so dog owners should not give up until they know where the problem stems from.