Pet Health
min read

Dog Dermatitis: Treatments and Everything You Should Know About It

Everything dog owners need to know about dog dermatitis including causes, treatments and prevention.

If you’re a dog parent, then you know that they can be some of the most loving pets and well-rounded pets. They are incredibly enjoyable to play with, take on walks, or simply snuggle with on the couch. Like all living beings though, they are also prone to getting sick and having health issues as well. One of these issues is known as "dermatitis." 

While dermatitis doesn’t affect every single dog out there, it is a rather common condition and can be diagnosed at almost every age.

In this article, we’re going to be sharing everything you need to know about it. We’ll be discussing what dermatitis actually is, and the most common causes for the diagnosis. Then, we’ll talk about the many ways you can treat it at home and when you should think about visiting your vet. 

What is Dog Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is an umbrella term used to describe any inflammation of the skin. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, infections, and parasites, but the most common symptoms include itching and irritation that results in redness and scaling of the skin.

Dermatitis requires attention to improve and typically will not resolve on its own. Treatment may consist of medications to relieve symptoms, anti-parasitic drugs to kill parasites, and dietary changes for curbing allergic reactions.

What Causes Dermatitis in Dogs?

The causes of canine dermatitis can be divided into two broad categories: allergies and infections.

  • Allergies—allergies are a common cause of skin irritation in dogs. The most common culprits include fleas, food allergies, and environmental allergies.
  • Skin infections—skin infections are another common cause of canine dermatitis, as well as excessive licking or chewing on the skin by your pet. Some examples of these include bacterial infections (such as pyoderma), fungal infections (such as ringworm), and parasitic infestations (such as scabies).

The Most Common Symptoms of Dog Dermatitis

The most common symptoms of dermatitis in dogs include itching, redness, and dry skin. You may also notice scaling, cracking, or flaking of the skin as well as hair loss. If your dog has these symptoms then it's important to be aware of any changes in their health.

The Different Types of Dermatitis in Dogs

As mentioned above, dermatitis in dogs can be caused by a multitude of different issues. For this reason, many different types of dermatitis could be affecting your dog. Some of the most common are:

Contact Dermatitis

Typically short-lived, and caused by direct contact with an irritant. Collars are frequently known to cause this type of dermatitis. 

Acral Lick Dermatitis

A frustrating type of dermatitis caused by excessive, relentless licking in one area of the body. This type of dermatitis cannot heal without behavioral control and can be quite painful. 

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

The itching and scabbing rash caused by flea bites. Severe cases, or true flea allergy, can lead to blood loss and even anemia. 

Hot Spots

Also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, hot spots are a type of bacterial or fungal overgrowth. They are small, red, inflamed areas on a dog’s body and require veterinary assessment for treatment. 

Treating Your Dog's Dermatitis at Home

Dermatitis in dogs doesn’t typically warrant an immediate visit to the vet. There are some things you can do at home to try and address the problem. These include to:

Wash your dog's coat regularly with a medicated shampoo

Medicated shampoos are specifically designed to treat a variety of skin conditions, and they're available at most pet stores. Look for one that contains oatmeal or aloe vera extract, which can soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation. An anti-itch shampoo is also effective; these products usually contain ingredients like menthol or chamomile oil that help relieve itching by reducing inflammation and warming up the skin's temperature.

Take advantage of Epsom salt baths

Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are an old herbal remedy for treating dermatitis in humans and animals alike; it has anti-inflammatory properties as well as soothing effects on the nervous system. Both of these qualities are very important for dogs suffering from any form of irritation! To use this treatment method, add about 1 cup of Epsom salts per gallon of lukewarm water and soak your dog in the tub for 10-15 minutes once or twice daily until symptoms clear up completely.

Visiting a Vet for Your Dog's Dermatitis

If your dog develops a serious wound from scratching, it’s important to visit a vet. They can help your dog stop itching and diagnose the type of dermatitis. Vets can provide more effective treatments in some cases, such as providing steroids or using antibiotics for infection. Some cases may require dietary changes as well, and your vet can help identify if this is the case for your dog.

If you don't see any improvement after a few days of treatment at home, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian or to make an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist to get to the bottom of things. Dermatitis, while not life-threatening, can go south quite quickly, so it’s important to stay ahead of it from the beginning. 

Prevent or Control Your Dog's Dermatitis with Diet Changes

On top of internal medicine and a topical approach, your dog’s diet is one of the best ways to tackle their dermatitis. High protein diets can be beneficial for improving skin health and reducing itching overall. And, sugar-free, plain yogurt in their food every day can balance the pH of the skin. 

Some other dietary tricks you can take advantage of to help with dermatitis are to:

  • Include coconut oil in your dog’s food
  • Provide your dog with supplemental digestive enzymes
  • Research herbal supplements, like yucca, to help them even more

Final Thoughts

As you can see, dermatitis in dogs is a common condition that can be treated effectively with the right combination of medication and diet. It’s important to keep in mind that not all cases of this condition are the same, so it’s always best to talk with your vet about what treatment options will work best for your dog.

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