Dog Skin Infection

Just the sight of your dog scratching themselves incessantly can be irritating. Imagine how uncomfortable your dog must be feeling. More often than not, increased itching and scratching can be because of various kinds of skin infection in your dog. They can be due to various factors like poor diet, parasites, environmental reasons and allergies. 

Before we get to how to treat different kinds of skin conditions, we need to look at what are the different kinds of skin conditions. Here's a list of the common kinds of dog skin infection:

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1. Allergic Dermatitis

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One of the most common kinds of dog skin infection, allergic dermatitis, also known as atopic dermatitis, is caused due to allergies caused by grooming products, environmental irritants (like pollen, grass, molds, etc.), food or insect bites. A dog with allergic dermatitis can scratch incessantly and can sometimes even cause a rash. 

One way to find out the cause of the allergy is to ask if this happens all year round or only during particular seasons. If this happens only during particular seasons, it could be a seasonal allergy. In such a case, pollens could be the culprit. 

You could also try eliminating single food ingredients from your dog's diet and see if it reduces the scratching. For example, in my dog Lulu's case, we noticed that she had a lot of ear wax building up repeatedly every few days. Because of this, she was incessantly scratching her ears every few minutes till we cleaned her ears. We tried eliminating ingredients from her diet and we found out that it was the lamb that was the root cause. The moment we stopped lamb in her diet, the infection completely went away and she stopped scratching.

If it's not seasonal or food based allergies, maybe you could try getting an allergy panel test done with your vet to figure out what could be the cause of the allergy.

2. Yeast Infection

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If you are noticing symptoms like irritated, itchy or discoloured skin, you could ask your vet to check for a yeast infection. Yeast infections usually occur in the toes or the ears as they are warm and comforatble spaces for the yeast to grow. 

They are easy to diagnose and the treatment often includes a topical application of a cream. In some cases where the infection is extreme, your vet may prescribe medicated baths.

Is your dog scratching too much? Consult a vet online in minutes.

3. Seborrhea

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Seborrhea can resemble a dandruff like situation found in humans. In such a condition your dog's skin would turn greasy and develop scales (similar to dandruff). In most cases, dogs develop Seborrhea as a complication to other medical problems such as hormonal imbalances or allergies. Ask your vet to check for the underlying condition in such cases to treat that first so that the symptoms don't recur. 

4. Ringworm

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Surprise - Ringworm is not actually caused by a worm, in fact it's caused by a fungus. The most common telltale signs of this infection is circular ring like patches on your dog, especially near the head, paws, ear and legs. Along with these patches, you may also notice inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. 

Various anti fungal shampoos can take care of this if caught early. In case the symptoms are persistent and anti fungal shampoos are not working, consult with your vet for a more aggressive treatment in the form of oral or topical medications.

5. Alopecia (Shedding & Hair Loss)

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Most dogs shed. Most dog parents consider their dog's fur as part of the home decor by now. However, if you notice patches of hair loss or excessive shedding, you may want to take a deeper look. Most often, excessive shedding can be caused due to factors like improper diet, stressful environments or other underlying illnesses. 

Look out for some classic triggers of stress in your dog like excessive licking of the mouth, yawning frequently, panting too much, pacing frequently, whining, etc. If you notice these things regularly, your dog could be telling you that something in the environment is causing the stress. For example, Lulu once started licking her lips a lot and whining more than usual when we had our torch lights on in the house (we had a power cut for a few hours and had to rely on the phone flash light).  Turns out, she was stressed out with this new variable in her otherwise predictable environment. If your dog is stressed on a regular basis, this could cause har loss too.

I am an advocate of a fresh, balanced and protein rich diet for dogs. I am not yet convinced that store bought dry kibbles are better than fresh food for my dog. Lulu's diet consists of various sources of proteins, carbohydrates and fat in the form of different kinds of meat, organs, vegetables and macro nutrients. Ideally, if your dog has no underlying health condition, try to give a diet that has 50-60% protein, 20-30% fats and the rest in carbohydrates. However, please consult with your vet or a nutritionist as every dog's requirement can be different.

6. Mange (Mites)

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Mange is caused by tiny parasites called Mites. It is known to spread easily between dogs and even humans, although the parasites don't survive on humans. Symptoms of mange are excessive itching and scratching, red skin, hair loss and even sores. Due to the contagious nature, it is advisable that if your dog has mange, take them to the vet's immediately for a medical bath or other forms of aggressive treatment.

Not sure if it's mange? Consult a vet online in minutes.

7. Ticks & Fleas

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Ask any dog parent and their response will always be the same - They all hate fleas and ticks to the core!! Not only are they unavoidable, but they can be ugly and annoying to even see with your own eyes!

Fleas and ticks can latch on to your dog from grassy areas, other infested dogs or from elsewhere on the roads. 

We have written more about how to identify and remove ticks and how to prevent ticks using natural home remedies.

8. Colour or Texture Changes

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If you notice that your dog's fur colour or texture has changed significantly, this could indicate some underlying symptom such as hormonal imbalances or common metabolic issues. Our advise would be to get a simple blood test done and this could indicate if there is anything unusual in your dog. Accordingly treatment can be done.

9. Skin Tumors

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Have you noticed any lumps on your dog's skin? Or any other suspicious bumps on their skin? If yes, then take your dog to the vet immediately and point it out to them and ask them to check for any kind of tumor. The only way to confirm if a skin mass is tumorous or not is to do a biopsy. If it's a small lump, it may be possible to remove it and do a biopsy in one go. However, please rely on your vet's advice for this.

10. Hot Spots

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Hot spots are red spots on the skin of your dog that appear hot to touch. This could be because of many reasons including infections, excessive licking or biting, allergies, insect bites, etc. It is commonly found around the head, chest or hips. Treatments can vary from cleaning the hot spot with a mild disinfectant solution and may even require your dog to be put on an e-collar to help them avoid licking and biting the affected area excessively.

When to see a vet

Although most skin conditions are treatable at home and can be prevented with a proper holistic approach, some conditions may require a veterinary inspection and treatment protocol. If your dog's condition is not healing after a few days of trying some home remedies or home treatments, don't wait to consult the vet. 

If you're still unsure, you can always consult a vet online quickly and be assured of what steps to take next.

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