Skin Problems in Dogs P2
Ticks, like fleas, are external parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. You can spot a tick feeding on your dog with the naked eye. To properly remove a tick, grasp the tick with tweezers close to the dog’s skin, and gently pull it straight out. Twisting or pulling too hard may cause the head to remain lodged in your dog’s skin, which can lead to infection. Place the tick in a jar with some alcohol for a couple of days and dispose of it once it is dead. In addition to causing blood loss and anemia, ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other potentially serious bacterial infections. If you live in an area where ticks are common, talk to your veterinarian about tick control products.
Color or Texture Changes
Changes in a dog's skin color or coat texture can be a warning sign of several common metabolic or hormone problems. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about any significant changes to your dog's coat.
Dry, Flaky Skin
Dry, flaky skin can be a red flag for a number of problems. It's a common symptom of allergies, mange, and other skin diseases. But most often, dry or flaky skin is nothing serious. Make sure you are feeding Fido high quality food. Like people, some dogs simply get dry skin in the winter. If this seems to cause your pet discomfort, consult your veterinarian.
Acral Lick Granuloma
Also called acral lick dermatitis, this is a frustrating skin condition caused by compulsive, relentless licking of a single area – most often on the front of the lower leg. The area is unable to heal, and the resulting pain and itching can lead the dog to keep licking the same spot. Treatment includes discouraging the dog from licking, either by using a bad-tasting topical solution or an Elizabethan collar.
If you notice a hard lump on your dog's skin, point it out to your vet as soon as possible. Dogs occasionally develop cancerous tumors in their skin. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of cancer is to biopsy the tumor. If the lump is small enough, your veterinarian may recommend removing it entirely. This can yield a diagnosis and treatment with a single procedure. For tumors that have not spread, this may be the only treatment needed.
Hot spots, also called acute moist dermatitis, are small areas that appear red, irritated, and inflamed. They are most commonly found on a dog's head, hips, or chest, and often feel hot to the touch. Hot spots can result from a wide range of conditions, including infections, allergies, insect bites, or excessive licking and chewing. Treatment consists of cleansing the hot spot and addressing the underlying condition.
In rare cases, skin lesions or infections that won't heal can indicate an immune disorder in your dog. One of the best known is lupus, a disease that affects dogs and people. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body's immune system attacks its own cells. Symptoms include skin abnormalities and kidney problems. It can be fatal if untreated.
Anal Sac Disease
As if dog poop weren't smelly enough, dogs release a foul-smelling substance when they do their business. The substance comes from small anal sacs, which can become impacted if they don't empty properly. The hallmark of impacted anal sacs is a dog scooting his bottom along the ground. Other symptoms include biting or licking the anal area. A vet can manually express full anal sacs, but in severe cases, the sacs may be surgically removed.
When to See the Vet
Although most skin problems are not emergencies, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis so the condition can be treated. See your veterinarian if your dog is scratching or licking excessively, or if you notice any changes in your pet's coat or skin, including scaling, redness, discoloration, or bald patches. Once the cause is identified, most skin problems respond well to treatment.