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Dog Health Articles - Skin Disorders in Dogs

Skincare - Allergies - Dermatitis

Allergies cause itching in dogs

Over-reaction by your dog’s immune system to common allergens is perhaps the most common cause of irritable skin conditions in dogs.

These allergens can often be food or contact allergies. Meat proteins and cereal starches are common culprits as are house dust mites and pollens. Some breeds of dog have a genetically more susceptible immune system.

Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs is an allergic reaction

Skin diseases account for a high proportion of visits to Vets. The most common canine skin disease is Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy) which is caused by allergic reaction to inhaled allergens such as pollen, mould spores, house dust mites, chemicals  on carpets and air fresheners –and they can be a problem all year round.
Most cases are  mild and cause minor irritation but dermatitis can cause significant long term suffering with symptoms like itching (pruritus as the  Vets call it) causing scratching, inflamed skin, and fur loss.  Atopy is more common in certain breeds, with small breed dogs most commonly affected.

House Dust Mite allergy is a reaction to the proteins in minute particles of dried dust mite faeces deposited on fabrics and surfaces. Even when house dust mites are killed by insecticide sprays the cause of this allergy remains behind.

Food allergies are not all that common even though some vets believe that certain ingredients such as wheat, beef, chicken and soya are responsible for up to 20% of cases of skin allergies in dogs. Having said that there is no doubt that they do occur, and some owners feed hypoallergenic food as a precaution. 

Contact allergies, such as those caused by washing powders, grass and so on, are even less common than food allergies, but do need to be considered in dogs which have unusual patterns of allergies, such as redness only on the belly that has appeared just after their bed has been washed for example.

Parasites cause Skin Problems for dogs

Fleas, Ticks and Mites  will cause irritation and itchy-ness when they bite the dogs skin.  The dogs immune system will usually react against the bites and this reaction may persist even after the parasites have been treated by medication. This can lead to Mange with persistent scratching and eventually  damaged skin and hair loss.

While Fleas and Ticks may be  visible  to the owner, Mites are harder to diagnose. If untreated then Mites will cause Mange.

Surface mites live on the skin’s surface, causing itchiness and scratching. The most common types are Cheyletiella mites (which are light in colour and large enough to be seen moving about) and tiny orange Harvest Mites (which are more common in the autumn). Surface mites should be treated with proprietary insecticidal medications to break their parasitic life cycle.

Ear mites are contageous and live inside the dog’s ears.  Head shaking and ear scratching and a dry crusty discharge are common symptoms. They need to be treated with specialist ear products.

Mange mites burrow in to the skin, so they can’t usually be seen by the naked eye and will need to be diagnosed by your vet, using a microscope and skin scraping. The most common types of mange mites cause Demodex mange and Sarcoptic mange. Your Vet will advise on the appropriate treatment.

Demodex Mange is caused by mites that live in the hair follicles of almost all dogs and they aren’t normally a problem. But if the dog has an impaired immune system, or is suffering from malnutrition or stress, the mites can overpopulate, resulting in hair loss and inflamed skin. This type of mange doesn’t usually cause intense itching, and it isn’t contagious.

Sarcoptic mange is contagious and very itchy. Dogs will cause themselves permanent skin damage from scratching and biting. These mites breed quickly and will eventually infest your whole pet if left untreated.

See your vet to establish if your dog has mange and which type it is. If your dog has Sarcoptic mange it is likely to need veterinary treatment in the first instance. When that’s dealt with, if you’re looking for a more natural solution to prevent further outbreaks and help heal the damage – then a course of Dermal O3  would be the right support.

For Demodex mange where the dog has an impaired immune system or is suffering from malnutrition or stress – Dermal O3  would be a helpful supportive measure and can be given long term with no side effects.

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