Dog Skin Problems: Pictures And How To Treat

Under all of that fluff, dogs have skin just like us. Skin symptoms in dogs can be an indicator of an underlying condition that needs medical attention. Don’t blame your pup for the bad habit, but the constant sound of scratching a rustling can become worrisome and irritating. Understanding the culprit is important when addressing your dogs skin concerns.

Common Skin Symptoms

While it is common for dogs to occasionally scratch, there can also be a deeper, root cause for the discomfort. Before we get into the list of conditions, first we need to identify common symptoms that may indicate various skin problems.

  • Rashes
  • Lumps
  • Excessive scratching, licking
  • Hair loss
  • Skin sores or lesions

Check your pet on a regular basis and monitor their behavior. You may find that there is a correlation with symptoms and schedule. Such as after eating, exercising, or have been out of the house. If you do notice any patterns, take note so that you can better help your vet understand what the condition may be and actions needed to treat.


When you take your dog out, there is the chance they will pick up unwelcome visitors. Fleas live by consuming the blood from your dog. When your dog gets infected, the saliva causes an allergic response and makes your dog itch profusely. The bites may cause inflammation, and the droppings from the fleas causes irritation. You may find tiny black specs left on surfaces your dog lays on before you see the actual fleas. Excessive itchy may result in loss of fur in extreme cases. Be diligent, because fleas can also bite humans. Fleas can also transmit parasites such as tapeworms if the flea is swallowed by an animal or human.

Make sure you are using proper medications, vacuuming regularly and cleaning common areas to prevent infestations.


Similar to fleas, ticks also live off the blood of their host. But unlike fleas, ticks are easily identified with the naked eye. If you spot one on your dog, you must remove it as soon as possible with tweezers. When doing this, it is important to remove the head of the tick as well. So, use the tweezers to grasp close to the skin and remove the tick whole if possible. If not, the risk of further irritation and infection increases.

Ticks may carry harmful diseases that are transmittable to canines, felines and humans such as lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. The longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk of transmission.

Certain kinds of ticks may transmit different diseases. It also depends on geographical location. If you see a tick lodged on your dog, it is beneficial to place the tick in a jar with alcohol so your vet can identify the type of tick, and discuss potential transmission risk and treatment.

Mange (Mites)

Mange is a common skin disease caused by several species of mites, most common in stray dogs. There are two separate kinds of mange:

Sarcoptic Mange

Also known as Canine Scabies, this kind of mange is caused by Sarcoptes mites. Usually, this begins in the ears or face and may spread resulting in intense discomfort, itching and hair loss. This type of mange is highly contagious and can even be transmitted to humans. Although they do not survive well on human hosts.

Demodectic Mange

This type of mange is not contagious to other dogs, and humans. Although the mites that cause it may be transferred, this kind of mite known as Demodex, normally live on the skin of dogs and are usually harmless. A healthy immunity will usually keep these mites under control, but if it is compromised the mites may get out of control and cause an infection. Demodectic mange may or may not cause itchiness that results in hair loss or sores.

If you suspect your dog has mange, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. They will diagnose mange by examining a small sample of skin underneath the microscope. If your dog is diagnosed with mange, treatments include oral tablets, shampoos or supplements.


Folliculitis is defined by inflamed hair follicles and commonly occurs in addition to other skin problems including mange or skin allergies. It is considered a bacterial infection and can be identified by scabs, sores or bumps on the skin. It is easily spotted in short haired dogs, but can also be seen on long haired dogs by noticing a dull coat, shedding and further inspection will reveal the sores and scabs. Good news, it’s easily treatable with oral antibiotics, ointments or medicated shampoos.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is another common skin problem. It is easy to identify, all you need to do is part the fur to check if you see flaky, dandruff looking skin. You may see redness and inflammation due to scratching. Dry skin may be caused by many factors including:

  • Allergies: Allergic dermatitis can be caused by grooming products, fragrances, food or environment such as pollen or an insect bite. Corticosteroids are helpful in treating allergic reactions, however the most effective thing is avoiding whatever is causing the reaction.
  • Dehydration: If your dog is not getting adequate water consumption, then it may affect the health of the skin. Make sure your dog has access to clean and fresh water throughout the day.
  • Diet: The lack of healthy fats in a dogs diet, may result in dry and flaky skin. Some commercial dog foods may process out the healthy fats so it is important to consider supplements such as Omega 3’s for your dog.
  • Environment: Dry skin is more prevalent in dry climates with low humidity.

Yeast infection

Warm or moist areas of a dogs body are most susceptible to yeast infections such as ear canal and groin area. Symptoms of a yeast infection include discoloration of skin, redness and itching. It is common for the infection to have an unpleasant smell due to the fact that it is considered a fungal infection.

Typically, yeast infections are easy to diagnose and respond very well to treatment. Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical cream, medications or medicated shampoos.


Another kind of bacterial infection, also known as puppy pyoderma. That is because it is more prevalent in puppies and is commonly identified as red, raised and pus filled pimples commonly found on the hairless portion of the belly. Sometimes the pimples erupt which causes scabbing.

This condition is rarely serious and can sometimes resolve on its own as the dog ages. However, a round of antibiotics or topical creams can offer relief and treatment.


It is a common misconception that ringworm is a parasitic infection caused be a worm. It is not. Ringworm is a fungal infection that is highly contagious to other animals and humans. The infection appears as a red, inflamed ring shaped patches that can be found all over the body. They can result in dry skin and bald spots around the lesions due to itching. The treatment for ringworm varies depending on how severe. However, antifungal topical creams and medications usually do the trick.


Skin is considered the largest organ in the body. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attach its own healthy cells. It may affect different organs, but Lupus manifests in the skin with open, crusty sores that take a very long time to heal, or do not heal at all. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lupus. But is can be managed.

Treatment may include immunosuppressant drugs, antibiotics, or vitamin B3. If left untreated, Lupus may be fatal.

Tumor or Growths

Not all bumps and lumps are causes for concern. Sometimes, Lipomas which are small fatty tumors located underneath the skin and above the muscle layer, form and are considered non malignant or benign. However, Lipomas may be confused with a cancerous tumor known as Liposarcomas. Without further examination and biopsy, there is no way to tell the difference. Visiting your veterinarian as soon as you discover a lump is crucial for potential treatment.

When to see a vet

Although most skin concerns are not technically emergencies, it is important to take note of your dogs symptoms to prevent the condition from getting worse. The good news is that the majority of skin disorders can be treated with either medications, antibiotics, topical creams or special shampoos. Make sure you consult with your veterinarian to discuss the severity and treatment plan for your dog.

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