ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Pets and Animals»
  • Dogs & Dog Breeds»
  • Dog Health

Skin problems in dogs and cats

Updated on October 28, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob has been in the pet supply business and writing about pets, livestock and wildlife in a career that spans three decades.

Source

Owners Have A Large Role In Fixing It

There is one physical trait that we humans share in common with our pets. Our body's largest organ is also an animal's largest organ.

The lungs would be a good guess since they take up such a huge portion of our chests. But do you consider lungs one organ or two?

It doesn't matter. It's the wrong answer. As every medical practitioner and trivia buff knows, our skin is our body's largest organ, and it causes us problems ranging from annoying to severe.

It also causes our pets problems (especially dogs), and for pretty much the same reasons. One big difference is that we're smart enough to leave our boo-boos alone, but pets aren't. They'll scratch, chew and lick problem areas (self-trauma, in vetspeak), making things much worse.

Skin problems are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Examples of primary skin diseases include flea bite (or flea saliva) dermatitis, mange, or contact dermatitis from grasses or other external sources.

Secondary skin diseases appear as side effects of other medical problems. Hypothyroidism, for instance, often causes skin problems.

When the cause is finally identified, it's usually after a battery of tests because skin conditions are so difficult to diagnose.

Allergies represent a significant cause of skin diseases, and they can be difficult to diagnose, too.

Sometimes, but less commonly, food is the culprit, with wheat, soy, corn, and dairy products well represented.

More commonly in a food allergy, a protein, chicken for example, is the culprit. Allergies also can be airborne or of the contact type.

Source

Hot spots, also known as moist dermatitis, are familiar to most dog owners. Those conditions are often a result of the animal's chewing, scratching or licking.

Once the skin is broken, a secondary infection can set in making matters much worse.

Ectoparasites, or external parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites cause problems by breaking the skin and allowing infection to occur. And, if there's a fungus among us, it's often ringworm.

To achieve a diagnosis vets will often perform a skin scrape, where they shave a patch of haircoat and scrape off the top layer of the exposed skin with a scalpel blade. They then examine the material under a powerful microscope.

There are other diagnostic aides as well, such as blood tests, biopsies and a skin-prick test in which they test for a multitude of allergens.

Even with these tools diagnosis is difficult and time consuming because of the skin's varied responses to various attacks.

Treatment usually involves a drug of some sort and can last for a long time, even for life. The arsenal includes steroids, antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, topical creams or lotions, even medicated shampoos and rinses.

Many times a skin condition in pets will mean changes in diet and elimination of certain treats.

And, hypo-allergenic foods for pet carnivores typically feature expensive and exotic protein sources such as venison or duck. There are hypoallergenic biscuits for dogs.

There are some things you can do preventatively to help keep your pet's skin healthy. Frequent brushings will remove dead hair and keep the hair from matting.

Shampoos should be minimized, but when necessary done with medicated or hypoallergenic products. Don't use human shampoos, even baby shampoo.

If your pet is subject to dry skin, periodic visits to your groomer might be a good idea. Groomers have the tools, products, training, experience, patience, and that gentle, professional touch that makes the visit worthwhile.

How Conscious Are You About Your Pet's Skin?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
      Author

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi wetnosedogs, thanks for stopping by. A lot of treats have wheat in them. Those heavily advertised "bacon" treats...out of the first three ingredients, two are wheat.

      Advertising leads you to believe many of these treats are really meaty. Owners have to read the ingredient panels. And table treats...pizza crust, pasta, bagels, toast, English muffins, the last few flakes of cereal in the bowl...they can all negatively impact a dog's skin if he has a grain intolerance. It doesn't even have to be a full blown allergy.

      The grain starts the dog itching and the dog takes it from there with his chewing and scratching. The next thing you know...hot spots or an infection. Thanks for weighing in. Regards, Bob

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      My oldest female, Bella, has food allergies, soy, corn, wheat. Since we switched foods, she is must better. Certainly agree about treats, too. I bought a treat with wheat in it and sure enough, she was itching like crazy for a few days. I still have those treats hidden away.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
      Author

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Ann, good to see you. A nice happy ending, I like those. If it wasn't such a sad situation, one could crack a lot of jokes about a dog being allergic to human dander. That's quite a reversal. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Regards, Bob

      Hi twilanelson, thanks for stopping by. It's worth the extra effort, isn't it? I really feed bad for a dog that is scratching all the time. A customer came into our store once with a dog that couldn't go more than 15 seconds without scratching.

      She was doing everything wrong...giving the dog bread, snack chips, etc. I asked her to try a few things, which she did, and when they came in two weeks later the dog was going more than a minute and a half without scratching.

      She was flabbergasted. She saw an improvement almost immediately and her family just marveled at how he improved every day. A lot of folks just don't connect the dots between family habits and the dog's skin.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope to see you again. Regards, Bob

    • twilanelson profile image

      Twila Nelson 5 years ago from Carmichael, California

      Thank you for a nicely written Hub concentrating on our pet's skin. Preventative maintenance as well as veterinary care, patience and consistency throughout treatment help to keep our pet's skin healthy and comfortable. Our pets and their skin should never be ignored because these conditions will not go away on their own. Again I thank you for an easy to understand Hub and have a wonderful day!

    • annstaub profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Round Rock, TX

      Good article. My dog is plagued with skin problems. Especially her ears. I once helped with an extremely allergic patient with some of the worst skin I had ever seen. Nothing we tried worked for him. He was a rescue dog and had been given up by his owner because of his skin problems. He finally was allergy tested and turns out he was very allergic to human dander. He did eventually find a home.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)