How Many Dog Skin Problems Can Your Pup Get?

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Last Updated on April 22, 2023

Did you know that your dog can get a plethora of skin problems? It’s more common than you think.

Normally, your dog’s skin should look pink or black, depending on its breed and genetics. It should also be smooth with a clean coat.

Young woman holding a dog

However, if you notice excessive scratching, redness, rashes, or other symptoms, your doggo might have a skin condition.

Need to know more? Let’s talk about it.

What is Dermatitis in dogs?

The short answer is that dermatitis in dogs is an inflammation of the skin. It’s a whole-body disorder that affects your pup’s skin.

Dermatitis may occur if disorders of the internal organs are present such as liver disease, kidney problems, or pancreas issues.

This type of skin problem is fairly common in dogs. In older dogs, necrolytic dermatitis may occur, which causes the death of the skin tissue from liver disease or diabetes.

What causes skin problems in dogs?

Many factors can cause skin infections in dogs. One of the most common causes is allergies.

Whether it’s from the environment, food, or something else, your dog can develop allergies at any stage of its life.

Your pup may appear to have scabs all over their body due to allergies or another skin infection such as folliculitis.

This happens when an underlying skin infection causes scabs, bumps, and other sores to appear.

Other causes may be:

  • Lumpy skin syndrome
  • Poisoning by rat poison, ergot (which is a fungus that’s found in rye or other grains), mercury, and iodides
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Skin tumors
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing disease)
  • Underlying illnesses

Stray dog gets skin disease

What does Dermatitis look like on a dog?

If you notice that your fido is uncomfortable or irritated, it might be a good idea to check their skin. If anything looks abnormal, then there could be a skin infection.

Signs of skin diseases in dogs

There are plenty of symptoms to look out for when it comes to dog skin problems.

Allergies are a common issue, so how can you tell if your dog has allergies?

First, there are four causes of allergies: environmental, fleas, food, and contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of these allergies or other skin conditions are similar. You may notice a few different signs in the way your dog is behaving or how they look, such as:

  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Hives
  • Irritation
  • Skin sores
  • Inflammation
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Lesions or scabs
  • Scaly patches
  • Rashes
  • Dry or flaky skin
  • Hair loss
  • Bald patches
  • Swelling or lumps
  • Hot spots (areas where itching is most intense)
  • Dandruff
  • Bumps

Let’s take a closer look at some of these symptoms and what type of skin diseases they may be caused by.

What kind of skin conditions can dogs get?

Portrait of a dog lying on the bed
Source: @moon_doust / IG

There are some common skin problems to occur in dogs. Most aren’t as serious as they sound, as long as they’re caught early and treated properly.

Some conditions are merely itchy skin disorders, such as:

  • Scabies
  • Walking dandruff
  • Fleas, ticks, and lice
  • Damp hay itch
  • Inhalation allergy
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Lick sores

Let’s talk more about these issues and more.

First, there are common skin parasites such as fleas and ticks. They suck the blood of your pup, thus potentially giving your dog an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea bite.

When this happens, your dog will be itchy more often and may have red, inflamed skin.

Dry skin is another skin irritation. This is typically caused by various allergens such as food allergies, environmental allergies, dehydration, or dietary issues.

Your pup may scratch a lot as dry skin causes it to be scaly or flaky. Redness and inflammation can occur due to itchy skin.

Mange occurs when mites are present. There are two different types: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange.

Also known as scabies, sarcoptic mange causes severe itchiness and is highly contagious to other dogs and even humans.

Demodectic mange, on the other hand, is not contagious. It may cause hair loss and redness. It’s typically found in pups under one year of age or in older dogs with an underlying condition.

More skin issues include hot spots, also known as moist dermatitis. This will make your doggo’s skin look red and swollen. It’s typically caused by excessive licking, scratching, or biting to relieve itchiness.

A lick granuloma is similar to a hot spot. It occurs when your doggo over licks a certain area due to anxiety, boredom, stress, or sometimes allergies. This will cause redness, hair loss, and other infections.

Next, let’s discuss hair loss. Hormone-related hair loss or poor hair growth can cause a few issues, such as:

  • Thyroid deficiency
  • Cortisone excess
  • Estrogen excess
  • Estrogen deficiency
  • Acanthosis nigrans
  • Seborrhea

Other hair loss might be caused by:

  • Collie nose
  • Ringworm
  • Demodectic mange #1
  • Demodectic mange #2
  • Calluses or elbow sores

Stray dog having hair loss due to skin disease

Alopecia is also known as dog hair loss. This occurs when your doggo scratches or licks a certain area excessively.

Dog hair loss is typically caused by an underlying issue such as ringworm, bacterial infections, or parasite infestation from fleas, ticks, mites, or lice.

Then, we have a few dog skin conditions that are general skin infections such as yeast infections, impetigo, and folliculitis.

Yeast infections will typically be seen around the ears and paws. Your doggo will chew the affected area, causing further irritation and discoloration.

Folliculitis will show bumps, sores, and scabs when the hair follicles are inflamed. This happens when your dog has an underlying cause such as mange or skin allergies.

Impetigo is similar to folliculitis but will also show blisters on the dog’s belly.

Dog fur with dandruff
Source: @tiny.hamill / IG

Dandruff is another common problem that may sound familiar. Your pup will have flaky skin, as this is typically caused by dry skin.

It normally occurs during the winter months due to the heat being on, but it can also sign an underlying health problem.

Allergic dermatitis will affect your pet’s skin. What is a skin allergy? It’s when the skin becomes inflamed due to constant scratching or chewing. This can occur at any age for your dog.

Allergies can be caused by flea allergies (from flea saliva), inhaled or environmental allergies (such as pollen or dust), contact dermatitis (skin irritation occurs when exposed to household items such as chemicals, soap, wool, etc.), or food allergies.

How can you tell your dog has allergies, though? First, keep an eye on the way your doggo behaves. Are they itching a lot?

Which spot on their body? How often do they itch that spot, and how long has it been going on?

Be sure to give your fido a thorough look-over. Bring them to the vet, and together you can pin-point what exactly is causing the discomfort.

This will be a process of elimination as you expose your dog to various possibilities of allergens to see how your dog reacts.

Finally, with your veterinarian’s help, you can perform various allergy testing to determine the cause and the cure.

Sometimes it will be as simple as using an allergy-friendly shampoo, medical treatment, or food supplements such as adding omega 3 fatty acids to your pup’s diet.

Additionally, atopic dermatitis, also known as atopy, can occur from contact or inhalant allergies such as grass, trees, mold, pollen, and more.

If this happens, your doggo may excessively lick or scratch their ears and feet. This could develop further into a yeast infection or other bacterial infections with scabbing and discharge in the affected areas.

Continuing with some common skin problems, ringworm is another. This is a fungal infection that appears as a circular, crusty bald patch on the head, paws, ears, or front legs.

The skin may also appear red and inflamed. It’s highly contagious to other dogs and humans as well.

Bloodhound dog having skin problems
Source: @mutt_and_hound / IG

Lupus is a little more serious than some other conditions on this list. It’s an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its cells.

This compromises the immune system and can be noticed when skin lesions or other open sores, especially around the nose, eyes, and paws, take too long to heal.

Other reasons your pup may overgroom could be from hormonal problems, allergies, a sore spot, anxiety, or other behavioral problems.

If this occurs, take your dog to the vet and work it out together. To get to the root of the problem, your veterinarian may have to take a hair and or blood sample to test.

Treatment will vary depending on what the cause of the issue is. For example, if the alopecia is caused by ringworm, your vet may prescribe an antifungal or other veterinary medicine.

Finally, we have skin conditions with pus drainage, also known as pyoderma. This can be caused by:

  • Puppy dermatitis
  • Hair pore infection
  • Skin wrinkle infection
  • Hot spots
  • Cellulitis
  • Abscesses
  • Puppy strangles

And, of course, you should always look out for possible lumps or bumps that are on or beneath the skin, such as:

  • Papillomas or warts
  • Hematomas (bruises)
  • Tender knots
  • Cysts
  • Possible cancerous lump


Beagle dog having a checkup on a veterinary clinic

Now that we know all the many different skin conditions our beloved furry friends can get let’s talk about what we can do to diagnose them and treat them properly.

First, keep a close watch on your dog and keep track of their behavior. Write down their symptoms and for how long it’s been going on. This way, you’ll be able to tell your vet what exactly is wrong with your fido.

Plus, it will help you understand pet health in general, so you know what looks normal and what doesn’t.

How can I treat my dog’s skin problems?

Goldendoodle taking a bath
Source: @twiggygoldendoodle / IG

If your dog has allergies, once you and your vet find the root of the problem, there are many ways to handle their allergies.

Your vet might prescribe medication, or you can take a topical approach with a pet-safe, allergy-relief dog shampoo.

  • Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey for Dogs
  • Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Shampoo
  • Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E

This will keep the itching and redness at bay, relieving your furry friend and taking care of their skin and coat at the same time.

When it comes to treating your dog’s skin rash, there are shampoos to help with that as well or you can use various food supplements to keep their skin healthy, such as:

  • Zesty Paws Omega Bites Skin & Coat Support Chicken Flavor Chews with Omega 3, 6, & 9 for Dogs
  • PetHonesty Allergy Relief Immunity Strength & Digestive Health Soft Chews Dog Supplement

You may also get cream from your vet to help with your fido’s skin as well, such as:

  • Lithe and Limber Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil Dog Supplement

Relieving dry skin may be as simple as getting a dehumidifier during the winter. Dry skin may occur due to an underlying issue, or it can merely be that the air is too dry for your pup.

Rule out all possible causes and keep track before bringing your dog to the vet to get to the root of the problem.

As you can see, there are many ways to help your doggo get through this tough time with their skin issues, but there are plenty of preventative measures to take to avoid these issues.

Preventing common skin problems

Two dogs getting spaghetti treats
Source: @pawsreports / IG

If your doggo has allergies, you can find ways to prevent the problem or keep it at bay so it doesn’t bother your dog, and it’s still safe for them.

For example, if you vacuum and clean your house regularly, you can mostly control your house’s environmental allergies.

Food allergies can be controlled through a special diet once you find the food that causes the issue.

If it gets too bad, then you can use remedies such as anti-itch shampoo or other topical creams to relieve your pet, as long as it’s okay with their vet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I feed my dog with skin problems?

You can put your pup on many diets to prevent or keep their skin issues at bay. This ranges from their normal diet, adding supplements to their food, or giving the occasional treat.

As always, be sure to talk to your vet before changing your doggo’s food, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Salmon & Rice Recipe
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Chicken Recipe
  • Brothers Complete Turkey Meal and Egg Formula Advanced Allergy Care

Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s skin?

Happy portrait of a dog
Source: @kooikerhondje_tommy / IG

Yes, you can. Believe it or not, coconut oil has many benefits for dogs.

For one, it can increase their energy levels as well as improve their skin, coat, and digestive system. And, of course, it will reduce allergic reactions.

You can apply coconut oil to your dog’s skin by placing a little in your hands and gently massaging your doggo. Or, you can add a little to their food as it’s rich in fatty acids.

However, it can backfire.

Your dog might actually have an allergic reaction to the coconut oil itself, and too much of it can make your fido sick.

If you decide to give your dog coconut oil, do so sparingly. Keep an eye on your dog, and reach out to your vet if you notice any major changes with your pup.

How can I treat my dog’s skin infection at home?

Once you find the root of the problem, be sure to keep your dog away from it. If they’re excessively licking a certain spot, do your best to keep your pup distracted from it.

You can use preventative measures by keeping the environment clean, trying itch-relief shampoos and creams, or switching up your pup’s diet a little.

Be sure to contact your dog’s vet before changing anything drastically.

Life for dogs with skin problems

Young Yorshire Terrier dog portrait
Source: @headk9stylist / IG

A dog’s skin is delicate as there is only one layer, which is why it’s essential to check the skin regularly and ensure your pup is as healthy as can be.

Dogs can live comfortably with skin conditions, provided they’re caught early and treated well with the help of a vet.

For example, allergies are able to be kept at bay with various remedies.

On the other hand, sometimes skin problems are caused by underlying issues such as Lupus or bacterial infections. These problems are when your dog’s life may change.

This is why it’s important to care for your dog as best you can with a healthy diet and educate yourself about your pup’s breed and grooming needs.

Tips for responsible dog owners

Among everything else, we never touched upon poison ivy.

Dog love to explore and get into things they’re not supposed to, especially if they catch an intriguing scent!

Poison ivy causes rashes on humans, but guess what? It doesn’t affect dogs.

However, your doggo can get it on their coat and pass it onto you.

If you notice your pup has been near some poison ivy leaves, you’ll want to gently wash their coat to get any of it off. Be sure not to touch it directly with your skin, though.

Since a dog’s skin is fragile and there are so many concerns that can happen, it’s a good idea to get pet insurance for skin issues.

This insurance will help you get to the root of the problem and cover the costs for any medications or ointments you may need to get from your vet.


Girl with her dog posing in spring grass

The important thing to do is keep an eye on your pup and get to the cause of the skin problem.

There are many ways to prevent skin issues and so many ways to keep the conditions at bay.

Stay in contact with your vet to get the best possible treatment for your furry friend.

How do you care for your dog’s skin? Let us know in the comments!


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