Your dog’s skin is vulnerable to all sorts of skin conditions, including rashes, sores, and scabs.  Do you know how to protect against them? Do you know how to identify potential causes of dog skin conditions?  Understanding how they connect to your dog’s greater health is important to protecting that sensitive skin! Take a look below at the 6 most common causes of dog skin conditions.

Dogs and Skin Sensitivities

Some dogs are prone to having sensitive skin.  Short-furred dogs are common among those that have weaker and more sensitive skin.  However, all dogs can have skin conditions at any point in their lives.  Proper grooming and bathing at the right intervals, as well as a daily check of your dog’s skin, is one of the best things that you can do for their greater health.

1. Allergies

Allergies to the environment or food sources are very common.  If your dog is dealing with an allergy, hives may pop up.  Hives (technical term: urticaria) are a raised, itchy rash. The most noticeable symptom associated with hives is the welts (bumps, swelling) that appear on the skin. Welts may be red, but can also be the same color as the skin. They can be small and round, ring-shaped, or large and of random shape. Hives are itchy, and they tend to appear in batches on the affected part of the body. They can grow larger, change shape, and spread. This condition is not contagious and often stems from an allergic reaction, infection, or chronic illness..  

Hives pop up quickly after a trigger, so when you notice them, look for more, identify what you suspect to be the trigger, and consider taking your dog to the vet.  Hives don’t always indicate a severe reaction that requires medical treatment, but you’ll need to watch carefully to ensure that it stays that way!

2. Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. This is perhaps one of the most common causes of skin rashes in dogs.  This is the technical term when your dog has been in physical contact with a skin irritant – for example, fertilizer or yard chemicals, poison ivy, and so on.  

This contact could be one thing that will just irritate the skin and then go away again a day or two later, or it could be long-term contact.  This is part of why keeping an eye on skin health is so important in dogs.  If you notice a rash that isn’t going away and suspects it could be contact dermatitis, a vet can help you get a feel for what the cause is, and then you can work from there to remove the trigger!

3. Bug bites

Bugs love to wiggle themselves into your dog’s fur and bite.  From mosquitos to black flies to something like horseflies and even spiders and ants, there are endless numbers of insects that can bite your dog!  This is often more frequent in dogs with long fur since the bugs can hang on to the fur and bite as often as they want to!

Proper grooming and bathing your dog after being in insect infested area can help with this.  You’ll also want to keep an eye out for raised small bumps that show a bite mark of some kind.  Keep an eye on them to see how they heal, and don’t let your pet pick at them, no matter how much they may want to.

Your vet can suggest some other advice too, when it comes to helping your dog stay outside and enjoy himself without being chewed to pieces!

4. Fleas/ticks

Fleas and ticks love to nibble and bite and latch on to a host animal – after all they are parasites! Even dogs that are vaccinated will be susceptible to ticks and fleas, so don’t assume that your dog is immune because they have had their vaccinations.

When they go in areas such as heavy woods or grasses, it can be very common to come out again with a tick or two.  Fleas can easily be contracted by a pet having contact with another animal that is infected, and they can cause little bites that are hard to see at first.

Proper grooming and bathing will help with keeping your dog safe from fleas and ticks, especially after they’ve come out of areas where those insects are very common. You can also ask your veterinary doctor about protection such as collars that they recommend against these pests.

5. Folliculitis

This is a fungal skin infection that can cause small bumps that crust over.  There are many causes for this, and it will need specialized treatment from your vet in order to heal properly as it should.  Most agree that it is caused by the follicles of the fur/hair getting inflamed.  The most common cause is that there is some sort of bacteria or debris on your dog’s skin that causes the skin to get inflamed.

6. A product/skin mismatch

If you are using a skincare product on your dog that is too strong and severe, their skin may not be able to handle it well.  This leads to skin that dries out, is prone to sensitivity, rashes, and more.  Going with hypoallergenic products that are breed-specific, or at least designed for dogs with sensitive skin, is going to be a great suggestion for the ultimate protection of their skin!

The Bottom Line for Dog Skin Conditions

Skin conditions are sometimes easy to ignore because they may seem mild and harmless.  Realistically, however, your dog could be in a lot of discomfort and pain, and you might never even know it.

Keeping a close eye on your dog’s skin helps you detect a possible issue before it becomes a more severe problem, and that can keep your dog’s skin healthy and happy for as long as possible.

Skin conditions might be mild to us, but they can be indicators of a serious health problem.   This is especially the case since dogs have sensitive skin compared to humans, and a “harmless” problem may quickly grow into one that is severe, painful and requires treatment.  Understanding the different types of skin conditions can help protect your dog from unnecessary harm, and help you to get to the bottom of a health condition before it becomes serious.

It’s up to you, as the responsible pet parent, to focus on working for the benefit of your dog’s skin health, preventatively or after an issue arises.  The right information is key to that, and these tips can help you understand the potential of rashes, bumps, and dry skin that can cause discomfort to your dog, and even address these before they end up costing you more in vet bills!

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