Call Us: (877) 816-6500
Dog skin problems are, unfortunately, a very common issue in today’s domesticated dog world. In fact, it is now the number one canine health issue that veterinarians deal with these days. There are over 150 different diagnoses of skin disorders in dogs. The medical field often classifies all of these dog skin problems into two very basic categories: curable and non-curable.
Because of the variety of different possibilities, identifying the root of a dog’s skin problem can be difficult for veterinarians. Many times, a trip to the vet’s office will end with a drug prescription that seeks to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms – leaving the real reason for the skin issue undiscovered and untreated. It’s an all too familiar cycle for pup parents with this problem: the drugs help for a time, but as soon as the drugs wear off the problem comes back. Almost immediately and sometimes worse than before. It can be a very frustrating situation for you, your dog and your vet.
The most common symptoms of dog skin problems include severe itching, red skin, sores and hair loss. Unfortunately, these are common signs in nearly all 150 identified skin problems in dogs. Wart like bumps, blackened skin, hot spots, elephant skin and greasy skin are just a few more signs of skin problems in dogs. You and your vet will want to take the time to look beyond these common signs in order to find and treat the base problem accurately. The more accurate the diagnosis, the more effective the treatment can be… but that’s the problem, finding an accurate diagnosis.
While there are a dizzying amount of skin issues out there, I’d like to explore a few common problems. If the symptoms of itching, inflamed red skin, sores and hair loss are coupled with frequent ear infections and/or a corn chip odor, the underlying problem is often an overgrowth of systemic yeast in the gut (called Candida). However, sometimes yeast will only surface in warmer seasons, and only as severe paw licking… but some cases of yeast manifest year round and are so severe the dog is almost unrecognizable under his sores and hot spots. The variety of symptoms makes Candida yeast an especially difficult diagnosis. Some veterinarians will run tests to detect yeast, but many of the results will also come back as a false negative depending on where the yeast is surfacing in the body. This just makes everything more complicated. The presence of yeast overgrowth is directly rooted in a compromised immune system. Unfortunately, this issue has no quick fix and must be approached nutritionally (not prescription medications) – from the inside out… which will have the same effect on the yeast. It will be pushed from the inside, out.
If the hair loss on your dog is symmetrical (meaning there is a patch of hair missing over the left leg that is identically missing above the right leg as well), if his coat is thin and the skin is flakey, It is recommended that you have a complete baseline thyroid test done. This is called Thyroid Profile 5 Plus. Up to 70% of dogs with a thyroid problem will also suffer from a yeast issue mainly because most every dog with a thyroid problem will have a weakened immune system. This diagnoses demonstrates just how difficult and overlapping skin issues can be to properly identify and treat.
Mange is a bit easier to pin point. It is a disease caused by tiny ‘mites’ or parasites. These mites embed themselves into the skin of the dog and cause bald spots, scabbing, hair loss and ugly sores. There are two types of mange that may look alike by their symptoms but are very different. One is caused by an ugly critter that can jump on you or your dog (called sarcoptic mange). It is an awful intruder and requires an intense effort to exterminate this invader from your dog and your home. The other is actually a mite that naturally inhabits your dog’s skin (called demodectic mange) – yet if your dog’s immune system is weak or compromised, this mite can run rampant and cause a lot of trouble. You will want to have your dog tested to see if your dog’s skin problems are due to this disease. It’s also a good idea to do some of your own research on treatment options. Many of the drugs or dips used to treat mange use powerful chemicals that have powerful side-effect such as tremors and vomiting. Depending on the severity of the mange infestations, many natural remedies may do the trick without causing additional discomfort to your fur babe.
Other common skin issues are directly related to a lack of nutrition. Shedding is a big one. It’s normal to notice some shedding occasionally – dogs naturally shed their coat twice a year – It’s not normal to deal with excessive, year in, year out shedding. This is a big indication to take a look at your dog’s diet – the condition of his hair follicles are directly related to nutrition. Here, it’s important to understand a bit about how current laws impact the list of ingredients in your dog’s favorite kibble or can food. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to realize that happy TV commercials, big marketing ads or even the big brand at your vet’s office, are more concerned about their shareholders than they are about your dog – or any happy, healthy dog for that matter. Take the time to see what kinds of food, canine nutritionists recommend – they have decades of research to share and don’t make a dime off the brands that pass their test.
Whether it’s creepy mites, Candida yeast or crummy kibble, a common denominator of many skin problems dogs experience is the immune system. Keeping your dog’s immune system strong and in optimal shape can save much heartache and money in the long run – and the right nutrition is key to maintaining immunity health.
But nutrition isn’t the only factor… emotional health also impacts the body’s health and defense systems. Feeling loved, staying active, being secure – these things are as essential for our dogs they are for us. Put simply, our dogs require love, a nutritious diet and consistent exercise. These are the simple cornerstones of a healthy, happy life.
And the proof is in the picture. This is the same dog with just three months of the right amount of love and nutrition.