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Some Common Dog Skin Problems

Dog skin problems are common occurrences that generate many visits to local veterinarians. The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is the first line of defense against invasion of microbes. In this article we will discuss some of the more common dog skin conditions.


Seborrhea is a skin condition that results in a greasy, scaly dandruff. It can be an inherited problem, meaning that the dog is born with a genetic predisposition to develop seborrhea or it can be caused by allergies or hormonal problems. Treatment is normally topical with specially formulated shampoos.

A 16.9 ounce bottle of Douxo Seborrhea Shampoo costs $24.00 on amazon.com,

an 8 ounce bottle of DHS Tar Shampoo for $11.49

and a 7-ounce bottle of Sebulex Medicated Dandruff Shampoo for $16.52.

There are also a number of parasites that can cause dog skin problems.

Otitis Externa

The ear is considered an annex of the skin. Otodectes cyanotis is a mite that causes otitis externa or an infection in the outer ear. Diagnosis is based on visualization of the ear mite and presence of a substance in the ear that resembles coffee grounds. A swab under the microscope can also show mites or eggs.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

This is the most common skin disease. Symptoms include biting and scratching, licking, chewing even to the point of self-mutilation, hot spots, crusts, papules and hyper pigmentation. Diagnosis is based on the presence of fleas, flea droppings, flea larva and or flea eggs. Treatment is based on topical treatments of all animals in the house and environmental control is essential. Antihistamines, corticosteroids and antibiotics can be used in severe cases.

There are a number of products available online to kill fleas both on the dog and in the environment. The following list was taken from amazon.com. Prices are subject to change.

• Bayer Advantage II Red 4-Month Flea Control for Dogs 21-55 lbs.-$35.98

• Bayer K9 Advantix II Blue 6-Month Flea & Tick Drops for Extra Large Dogs, 55+ lbs.-$61.99

• Victor M230 Ultimate Flea Trap-$13.36

• Novartis Capstar Flea Treatment Blue Tabs for Dogs and Cats-$23.48

• Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Dogs-$59.50


Ticks bites can become infected and they can also transmit a number of diseases including Lyme Disease , Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Ask the vet or get online vet advice for more info on these diseases. The tick can be carefully removed manually and there are insecticides that are safe to use on dogs.

Demodectic Mange

Demodex canis causes demodectic mange. This dog ailment can be localized or generalized. Localized form usually only affects the head or feet and is characterized by alopecia, red skin, crusts and pustules. The generalized form has the same symptoms accompanied by secondary pyoderma and lymphadenopathy but it is all over the body. Treatment is with chemical dips and antibiotics if secondary infection is present.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptes scabiei causes Sarcoptic Mange which is a disease that can be transmitted to humans. It causes severe itching, hair loss, papules, crusts. Treatment is with chemical dips.

Final Thoughts

As can be seen, there are a number of products available to treat dog skin conditions. It is best to take your furry friend to your local veterinarians or animal hospital where you can get advice on the best products for your pet.


Skin Diseases available at and accessed 04/11/2012.

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