If you see your dog scratching or licking itself a lot, you may be able to ease your dog's suffering by administering a salve or spray. If you are worried that it could be a skin disorder, there are steps you can take to try to figure out what is wrong and if you should take your dog to a veterinarian.
These are some of the dog skin problems that may be afflicting your dog:
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
This condition could appear anyplace, but often shows up on the thighs or lower back as an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Sometimes you can see fleas moving about, but they are often difficult to spot. Instead, look for flea dirt, which is black, red or brown specks of dried flea blood or excrement. One way to look for flea dirt is with a specially designed flea comb.
There are various methods for getting rid of fleas, such as salves and sprays, but you will also need to treat the habitat around your dog. Fleas could be hiding in your home in places such as carpet and bedding. All potential hiding places will need to be cleaned thoroughly, and you may need to hire an exterminator.
Acute Moist Dermatitis
These red, moist and irritated lesions are generally referred to as hot spots. They may exude pus. Hot spots may appear anywhere, with the head and chest being typical places. A dog with long hair, a heavy coat or issues with grooming may have an increased risk of hot spots.
A veterinarian may employ shampoo, salve or powder when treating hot spots. If there is a significant infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Mange is caused by mites that puppies get from close contact with their mothers. In many cases, these mites are harmless, but sometimes hairless patches appear on the trunk, legs or head accompanied by sores and scabs, leading to more serious dog skin problems.
If you suspect your dog has mange, you can administer the Pedal-Pinna reflex test, which involves gently scratching and manipulating your dog's ear. If your dog starts moving a hind leg as if he is trying to scratch, it is typically an indication of mange, since mange mites are generally found in the dog's ears. If you think your dog does have mange, you should consult a veterinarian, who can take skin scrapings to try to uncover evidence of mange mites.
Along with fleas, your dog could also be allergic to such things as trees, grasses, cotton, plastic or certain medications. Some allergies may crop up only in winter, when your dog is kept inside the house more with greater exposure to mold and dust mites. Your dog could also be allergic to wool blankets or the feathers contained in winter coverings.
Another winter cause of dog skin problems occurs when salt spread on the ground gets stuck between toes of cold and wet paws. The paws may also become irritated from contact with ice-melting chemicals. If this is an issue in your area, you may want to put booties on your dog when he or she is outside.
If you are looking to treat and diagnosis your animal's skin problem, be sure to visit Dr. Rose's Remedies.
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Jon Lewin writes for a variety of pet care sites.