Skin conditions in dogs can range from mildly irritating to advanced, painful and overwhelming for both pets and owners. Depending on the nature of your dog’s problem, finding the answer may take time and require diagnostic tests. Your veterinary health care team will work with you to create a tailored treatment plan, while providing support to you and your pet along the way.

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What are the causes, symptoms and diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

Skin conditions can be attributed to parasites, bacterial or yeast infections, allergies, hormonal imbalances or autoimmune diseases. Signs may include itching, redness, flakey or excessively dry skin, thick discharge, hair loss and odour. Your dog’s physical exam along with skin scrapings, swabs, biopsies and blood work may be used to aid diagnosis.

What are the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworms?

Ringworm is sneaky – it’s not actually a worm at all! Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection, and certain species are highly contagious to pets and people! Some pets and people can be carriers despite showing little to no signs of the disease. This is felt to be the primary cause of transmission. In other cases, ringworm can live on surfaces such as food dishes and brushes. They can even be found in soil. Typical signs of ringworm include dry, scaly skin and patchy or round bald patches. Ringworm may cause red or ulcerated skin that is often not itchy for pets. Fungal culture and/or skin biopsy is taken to confirm if ringworm is the culprit, and then a treatment plan consisting of topical and/or oral medications is started. Keeping an infected ringworm dog quarantined and practicing good personal hygiene is crucial to prevent the spread of the disease.

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Most allergic skin disease shows itself between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, and the list is long for possible causes. Food allergies, contact/environmental allergies, hormone disruptions, parasites, breed predispositions and immune-mediated conditions are the primary factors. The choice of treatment will depend on the cause and the overall health of the patient. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a number of diagnostic tests coupled with a systematic approach to rule out causes. These tests are designed to identify the root cause. Although this may seem time-consuming and require multiple visits, it is imperative that you follow directions closely to find relief for your furry friend.

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

Parasitic skin disease can be caused by a number of external parasites, most frequently fleas and mites. In the case of a flea allergy, it only takes one flea bite to trigger a response, stressing the importance of an effective and consistent parasite prevention program. Some of these parasites cause your pets to itch while others do not. Most will cause hair loss and redness. Simple tests can be run in the clinic to check for most parasitic skin disease. Treatment typically consists of killing off the offending pest. In cases where the condition has been left untreated for an extended period, the pet may have a secondary bacterial infection from scratching. Your veterinarian may prescribe additional medications such as antibiotics or topical anti-inflammatories. If you suspect your pet has a parasitic skin disease, please contact your vet as some of these are contagious to people as well.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

Imbalances in an animal’s normal hormone levels can have a negative effect on the skin and haircoat. This leads to hair loss, dry, scaly skin and general poor coat health. These imbalances occur when an organ fails to secrete the proper amount of hormone. Blood work is the primary means of determining if there is a hormone-based health concern such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease, which may be causing or contributing to dermatitis. Treatment for hormone-related dermatitis will typically include medication to restore hormone levels. Repeat blood work is needed to ensure hormone levels are where they need to be and treatment has not negatively affected other organs.

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