Dry Skin in Dogs
Table of Contents
Some Possible Causes of Dry SkinThere can be plenty of different causes of your dog’s dry skin. But the good news is that SD or dry skin disorder is treatable if you identify the symptoms associated with various conditions and follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Below we have rounded up some possible causes of dry skin in dogs.
ParasitesParasites are some of the potential causes of dry skin or SD on dogs. Canine scabies, cheyletiellosis, and the Demodex mite are some common parasites that cause a condition commonly known as mange. These highly contagious mites or parasites burrow into your dog’s skin and cause itching and rashes. It will lead to hair loss if your dog does not receive medical treatment. You cannot see these parasites that cause dry skin with the naked eye. You will only notice scratching, itching, and missing fur. It is therefore vital to consult a veterinarian, especially one who specializes in veterinary dermatology. A specialist will know how to examine your canine to find out the real cause of your dog’s intense itching. I advise you to not consider parasite a trivial cause of itching. If not diagnosed in time, their presence in your dog’s coat/fur may impact their comfort and health. From mild itching and scratching to a serious infection, parasites may put your dog’s skin health at risk. Some external parasites include:
AllergiesLike us, dogs are also susceptible to a wide range of skin allergies including environmental, seasonal, and food allergies. My beagle was allergic to pollen and used to get persistent itching when playing around pollinating plants. However, animal dander, grass, dust, flea saliva, and grain can also cause a number of symptoms, causing dry skin in dogs. If you leave allergies untreated, it may lead to Atopic Dermatitis – a skin condition that causes dry skin, redness, itching, and inflammation. Not only this, it may also lead to a secondary skin infection. Flea dermatitis, for example, is a common allergic reaction in dogs. Your dog may get infected from flea saliva and develop an allergy. You can avoid this allergic reaction by keeping your dog away from places that would expose them to fleas as well as keeping your house flea-free. However, if your dog somehow develops this allergy, make sure you discuss treatment options with your veterinarian.
Systemic DisorderAs mentioned above, a dog with dry skin can signify a larger problem. Systemic disorders such as Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are metabolic disorders associated with SD or dry skin. In either case, your dog will most likely suffer skin infection, hair loss, and brittle hair. Plus, if your dog has suffered from cancer or any other auto-immune disease, it can also be one of the causes of dry skin. Remember that these are some serious conditions. Make sure you do not take dry skin symptoms lightly. Consult with your dog’s veterinarian.
InfectionsWhether bacterial or fungal, infections can be the underlying cause of many skin-related issues in dogs. Veterinarians will often check for infection by taking several skin scrapes. Canine infections can be secondary to larger problems. That is why veterinarians take skin infections seriously. Note that infections like fungal ringworm are contagious to humans, so it is always better to take preventative measures.
Skin Conditions in Specific BreedsThis might sound bizarre to you but there are some breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to specific skin conditions as compared to others. Hairless breeds such as Chinese Crested dog and the Xoloitzcuintli (a.k.a. the Mexican hairless dog) are at a higher risk of developing various skin conditions. Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are large-breed dogs that often suffer from a skin condition Zinc-responsive dermatosis. The skin condition can be one of the causes of dry skin on dogs.
Dry Skin: Some Other CausesWhile the above-mentioned problems encompass most possible medical conditions, dry skin on dogs may have some other causes. Environmental conditions are one such example. Dry air or cold weather can cause the symptoms associated with SD or dry skin. Additionally, if you use harsh soaps on your dog, give them excessive bathing, or feed them unhealthy food, this may affect their skin health.
SymptomsDifferent breeds of dogs may manifest different symptoms of SD or dry skin. However, if you see the following symptoms, your pet will need to visit a veterinarian. Itchiness: Itchiness is one of the most common symptoms of SD or dry skin. Dogs often show this symptom due to skin inflammation from fungal or bacterial infection, allergies, and parasites. Redness: As with itchiness, this symptom occurs due to skin inflammation from any infectious cause or any allergic reaction. Hair loss: Many dogs experience hair loss when they have dry skin. Their hairs start falling because of incessant scratching and abrasion. The other causes of hair loss include autoimmune disorder, endocrine changes, fungal infections (ringworm), and parasites. Don’t forget that only a professional vet can diagnose the underlying cause of hair loss. Crusting: This symptom indicates an accumulation of debris, dead cells, and dried CBCs (red blood cells), as well as parasitic, bacterial, or fungal infection on the surface of the skin. Odor: If you detect a strong odor coming from your dog along with some of the above-mentioned symptoms, it may indicate a Malasezzia infection. This is one of the most common secondary infections. Some other common symptoms of SD are:
- Increased oiliness
How to Treat Dry Skin in DogsAs mentioned earlier, dry skin treatment of your dog depends on the diagnosis. Although you can study a lot about canine health on the Internet, consulting a veterinarian is always the best option to determine the exact cause of the skin problem as well as treatment options. In some cases, SD is a symptom of a more serious problem. Your veterinarian will then treat both the condition and the dry skin after diagnosis. Demadex mange, for example, is the primary symptom of Cushing’s disease. Your vet would then treat both Cushing’s and mange. These two conditions may have different testing and treatments, but they are both controllable and curable with medication. Treating allergies and infections that cause SD, on the other hand, may get tricky. If your dog suffers from any food allergy, your vet may advise an elimination diet. This is because food allergens do not have any reliable and effective diagnostic tests. You may have to eliminate certain food items such as eggs, wheat, soy, beef, and corn to find out which food is the culprit. In the same way, your vet can test your pet for environmental allergies, but these allergies generally do not have a cure. Some of the common treatments for environmental allergies include:
- Controlling dry skin, itching, and other symptoms
- Allergens avoidance
- Immunotherapy options