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by Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger on September 26, 2012

Dogs can suffer from some health problems that humans would never consider.  One of these issues is skin problems and some forms of skin disease can become a serious problem if they are not handled early and correctly.

Dogs are affected by many different kinds of skin disease.  Basic allergies are one of the simplest problems.  Inhalant allergies, flea allergies, and food allergies can create skin problems that result in dryness, hot spots, and biting and chewing, or loss of hair.  In these cases you need to go to your vet for diagnosis and treatment.

There are also skin diseases in dogs that require immediate, serious veterinary medical attention.  Here are some of the major skin diseases your dog can experience.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are red patches, sometimes swollen, that can result from an infection or other causes, on the dog’s skin.  The actual cause of a hot spot can vary but they are often related to moisture on the skin and veterinary term for hot spots is acute moist dermatitis.  They can also be due to allergies or result from your dog licking or biting himself.

Once a hot spot develops you need to treat it quickly.  Your vet can prescribe antibiotics for the problem.  You can usually treat a hot spot at home, if it’s not too severe, by getting your dog to stop licking the spot.  You can do this by applying a good antiseptic to the site, such as original Listerine mouthwash.  You can then dust the site with a medicated powder.  This will usually help the spot dry up and heal and prevent the dog from licking it.

You can also use a cram that will reduce any swelling or itching your dog may have and keep the dog from making the spot worse.  If the spot doesn’t heal quickly you should take your dog to the vet and get some antibiotics for it.  Your vet may also put an E-collar on your dog so he can’t bite or lick at the spot.

Skin Cancer

Dogs can also get melanomas and skin cancers.  These cancers can be caused by excessive exposure to the sun, among other causes. The spots can be difficult to find on your dog beneath his fur, especially if he has dark fur or long hair.  In some cases these spots will develop into tumors.  Dogs with light skin and fur are more prone to these spots.

If your dog does develop a tumor it will become noticeable and your dog may try to scratch at it or bite at it.  If you see or feel any masses or lumps on your dog’s skin, you should take your dog to the vet immediately.

Dry Skin

You may think that dry skin is a simple problem but it can lead to other health problems for your dog.  Dry skin can result in loss of hair, damaged skin, and pain for your dog in sensitive areas.

Dry skin can also result in sores and hot spots, infections, and other skin problems that require medication.

If your dog does have dry skin you should use a good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that will restore healthy oil to the dog’s coat.  Don’t bathe the dog more often than necessary as excessive bathing will strip natural oils from the skin.  In winter, dry humidity in the home can also dry out a dog’s skin so you may wish to add a humidifier to the home.

Your dog’s skin can be as sensitive and prone to skin problems as yours.  Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you when his skin itches or feels bad.  You must pay attention to whether your dog seems to be comfortable or not, and take steps to fix any problems.

Remember, if your dog shows any signs of hot spots, cancer, or infections, take your dog to the vet for treatment.  In many cases quick treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

Until next time…….

About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN.  Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network,

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