Dermatitis in dogs - Types, symptoms and treatment

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The dermatological problems They are a very common cause of consultation in veterinary clinics, with more and more information and specialization in the field of dermatology, as well as products to treat symptoms. And, although they are not life-threatening diseases, they do significantly affect the quality of life of our dogs. Therefore, given the importance and frequency of these conditions that worry caregivers so much and annoy dogs, we are going to dedicate this AnimalWised article to the different types of dermatitis in dogs, to your symptoms and possible treatments.

Canine dermatitis is a condition that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds, although it is true that there are some with a greater predisposition due to their genetics. Therefore, we encourage you to continue reading to know everything about dermatitis in dogs and how to act at the first symptom..

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  1. What is canine dermatitis?
  2. Causes of dermatitis in dogs
  3. Types of dermatitis in dogs
  4. Dermatitis in dog puppies
  5. Is dermatitis in dogs contagious??
  6. How to cure dermatitis in dogs: treatment
  7. Dermatitis in dogs: home remedies

What is canine dermatitis?

To talk about the kinds of dermatitis in dogs, the first thing is to be clear about what we are referring to when we refer to the term dermatitis. Thus, dermatitis is a itchy inflammation of the skin that can manifest itself in different ways (vesicles, erosions, ulcers, nodules, etc.) and that has different causes, as we will see in the following sections, in which we will focus on exposing the most common types of dermatitis in dogs, as well as its symptoms and its treatment. Likewise, we will share photos of dermatitis in dogs to more easily identify the one that affects your furry companion.

Causes of dermatitis in dogs

There are many causes of dermatitis in dogs that classify this pathology into different types, which is why it is so important to go to the clinic in order to determine which dermatitis it is to establish the best treatment. Thus, although it is usually related to an allergic reaction, being dermatitis the inflammation of the skin, accompanied by itching, can occur for the following reasons:

  • Mushrooms
  • Yeasts
  • Mites
  • Fleas
  • Food Allergy
  • Contact with any allergen
  • Licking a certain area excessively

However, these are not the only causes, so now we will show the types of dermatitis in dogs that exist depending on the cause that causes them..

Types of dermatitis in dogs

When we talk about dermatitis in dogs, we refer to a condition as a whole, since there are several types that exist, as we have just mentioned, each with its own differential symptoms and its own treatment. In this way, types of dermatitis in dogs are:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Flea bite allergy dermatitis
  • Food allergy dermatitis
  • Diptera sting dermatitis
  • Acral lick dermatitis
  • Acute wet dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

Next, we will talk in detail about each of the types of dermatitis in dogs that we have just mentioned, we will highlight their symptoms and treatments, in addition to showing images of each canine dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis

Among the types of dermatitis, atopic dermatitis in dogs is one of the most common. It is genetically based and affects young dogs, 1 to 3 years old, and usually begins to occur seasonally to happen throughout the year, as the number of allergens to which the dog reacts increases..

Regarding the symptoms of this dermatitis in dogs, there are itchiness, especially in ears (ear infections are common, sometimes as the only symptom) and lower body, loss of hair in the areas of greatest scratching, skin lesions, secondary bacterial infections and, very characteristic, an intense licking between the fingers that darkens the entire area, due to the oxidation of saliva with the air. In addition, we can see sneezing and nasal and eye discharge. This whole picture is produced by a excessive reaction of the body to elements, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, which would not have to produce any reaction, such as pollen or mites. The ideal would be to identify what causes the reaction to avoid it, but it is usually impossible so measures such as the following are taken to reduce, as much as possible, exposure to potential allergens:

  • Vacuum the house daily.
  • Do not shake blankets or sheets or your bed in the presence of the dog.
  • Minimize walks on windy days.
  • Do not go out in the hours of highest pollen concentration.
  • If we know that there has been exposure, bathe the dog.

As treatment, the washes with specific shampoos, disinfectants and that reduce itching, in addition to using, in some cases, medication to control it and prevent secondary infections that could take advantage of damaged skin. Fatty acid supplements may also be recommended.


Flea Bite Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

This type of dermatitis in dogs is very common and occurs in those that are especially sensitive to substances in the saliva of fleas. When these insects bite them, even just one, the reaction is triggered, which is shown in the form of alopecic patches and red bumps or pimples especially in the hindquarters, on the base of the tail, the back of the hind legs and the inside of the thighs. Produces very itchy, so the dog nibbles, the hair ends up falling out, the skin dries out and wounds and scabs can be seen that end up becoming infected. If left untreated, the skin darkens and thickens.

The treatment of allergy dermatitis to the bite will go through the flea control, which can be difficult, since there is no product that eliminates them 100% effectively. Even so, many dogs can still get itchy even if they no longer have fleas. Some guidelines that we must follow to end them are the following:

  • Treat all living animals.
  • Maintain the treatment throughout the year, even if we do not observe fleas.
  • We must use products that eliminate fleas in all their phases (eggs, larvae and adults) to ensure that we end any possibility of contact, even if for this we have to use more than one product (always under veterinary advice).
  • Vacuum the house frequently and wash the beds or covers used by the dog.
  • You can use a product to control fleas in the environment, if there is a considerable infestation, also following the recommendation of the professional.

Food allergy dermatitis

Another type of dermatitis in dogs that is frequently observed in veterinary consultations is caused by food allergies, which can appear at any age. Although this type of allergies it also produces digestive disorders, it is very common for them to manifest in the form of dermatitis. Skin turns red and welts appear on the ears, rump, back of the legs and lower body. The dog will react to foods such as meat, eggs, fish, or additives. Therefore, to treat this problem, a hypoallergenic diet or assimilation, which will include a small number of ingredients and no coloring, preservative or flavoring. In general, these diets are usually monoprotein in order to better identify the allergen. You can also do a homemade diet, always under the approval of the veterinarian.

It is also important that the dog has not tried these ingredients in the past. If symptoms improve, the diagnosis is confirmed, which is confirmed by introducing the suspect food again. If the dog worsens, it can be assured that it suffers from food allergy dermatitis, in which case the diet should be maintained. For more information, do not miss the following article: "Food allergy in dogs - Symptoms and treatment ".

Diptera (fly) bite dermatitis

This canine dermatitis belongs to the types of dermatitis in dogs caused by insects, in this case it is the flies that cause it and the characteristic lesion occurs, especially, on the tips of the erect ears, that they will present the edges "eaten" and with wounds that will bleed very easily due to the scratching of the dog and the shaking of the head, the result of discomfort. It can also appear in folds in the cases of dogs with floppy ears.

During the summer, it is very typical to see dogs living outside like this. These dogs have their ears raised and the diagnosis is easy because we will see the flies on wounds and around you. Scales are usually made that will look black. We should try, as far as possible, to control the fly population, as well as keep the dog indoors, especially during the day, at least until all wounds have healed. It is also advisable to apply insect repellent and keep the ears clean and dry, which we will have to treat with some veterinary prescription antibiotic ointment.


Acral lick dermatitis

In the classes of dermatitis in dogs we also find the so-called acral lick dermatitis, of which a psychological origin has been assumed, although there may be physical factors involved. In this canine dermatitis there is a open sore that the dog licks compulsively. It usually appears on the legs and in short-haired breeds. It is said to be due to a psychological disorder caused by inactivity, boredom, etc., although there may also be an injury or pain in the area and the dog manifests it that way. The primary cause must be sought in order to initiate successful treatment, and this can be atopic dermatitis, demodectic scabies, a bacterial or fungal infection, a stroke, or even joint disease. All these situations can cause the dog to focus its attention on the affected area.

Frequent licking causes the skin thickens and hardens, Although the external appearance will always be fresh due to the constant humidity that the dog produces when licking itself. Although there is a physical cause, the frequent licking that the dog makes is considered to be of psychological origin, so it is a good idea, as part of the treatment, to promote changes in the dog's routine.

Acute wet dermatitis

This type of dermatitis in dogs is also known by the name of hot-spot or "hot spot ". They are some injuries that appear suddenly, very painful, variable in size, bad smell and pus. By licking, the dog spreads the infection. They appear anywhere on the body, especially in thick-coated breeds and just before molting. Dead hair is one of the factors that may be involved in its appearance, as well as the presence of parasites, allergies, infections or even lack of proper brushing. If the cause is identified, it will be necessary to remedy it.

Because the lesions are very painful, the vet will have to disinfect them with the sedated animal. For its cure, this professional should prescribe topical and probably systemic medication. Likewise, it may be necessary to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent the dog from licking..

Contact dermatitis

This type of dermatitis in dogs occurs, as its name suggests, by the contact with an irritant that causes a reaction. It is typical for this to occur in the area of ​​the chin or lips from eating in a plastic plate, for example, or on feet and parts of the body without hair (nose, hocks, scrotum) if the reaction is produced by contact with chemical agents such as detergents, solvents, paints, and even some soaps.

Will be observed red bumps and very red skin at the points of contact with the irritant substance. Sometimes a reaction occurs only with a single exposure. Some dogs may suffer from allergic contact dermatitis, which is caused by repeated exposure to the irritant and affects a larger area of ​​the body. It is caused by products such as antiparasitic collars, shampoos, leather, grass, some drugs or plastic or rubber feeders (which also cause, as we saw, contact dermatitis). As is logical, once the causative agent has been identified, it is necessary to prevent it from coming into contact with our dog. In addition, the vet will need to prescribe medication to treat the affected skin..

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis in dogs, also known as seborrhea, occurs when the sebaceous glands produce a increased amount of sebum. This circumstance can happen as a consequence of another problem or disease, such as the appearance of fungi, an allergy, parasites, endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases or a poor quality diet. Likewise, it can occur as a problem of genetic or hereditary origin, so that your glands do not secrete the adequate amount of sebum without this implying the development of another disease..

There are two types of seborrheic dermatitis in dogs, the dry and the oily. The difference between them is that the dry one appears in the form of scales without producing any other visible symptoms and the oily one presents a greater amount of fat, causing the coat to lose its shine, it also has the scaly skin and the dog smells bad or stronger than normal. In both cases, dermatitis in dogs causes itching, but in the oily one this itching intensifies, causing the dog to scratch more intensely and injure the skin..

Before establishing treatment, the cause, if any, must be identified. Once the diagnosis is made, the vet will most likely prescribe a antiseborrheic soap and vitamin supplements. Likewise, it is advisable to offer foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids to strengthen the coat..

Fungal dermatitis

Among fungal dermatitis, the most common is Malassezia dermatitis in dogs. Malassezzia is a yeast that remains naturally in the dog's body, however, when the number of this yeast increases uncontrollably, it is when the infection occurs that can develop dermatitis. This increase can occur for multiple causes, such as an allergy, a hormonal disease, the presence of parasites, etc., so it is necessary to identify the reason to treat it.

The symptoms of this dermatitis in dogs are usually those of the rest of the types, that is, itching, redness of the skin and hair loss, accompanied by peeling. Likewise, it is common to notice that the dog smells musty, especially if a seborrheic dermatitis also develops. Treatment is usually the use of an antifungal shampoo or ointment, depending on the severity of the clinical picture..

Mite dermatitis

Mites, like scabies mites, They also tend to cause inflammation of the dermis, which leads to the appearance of dermatitis in dogs. This infestation of mites causes a dermatological infection because they tend to feed on sebum, keratin and the skin in general. As they feed and reproduce, the itching and redness of the skin are accentuated, so the animal does not stop scratching and biting itself, it hurts itself and is very annoying. There is also a hair loss that can be general or localized, depending on the type of mite.

Mite dermatitis in dogs it is treated based on the type of mite, since the mite that causes demodectic mange will not require the same treatment as the ear mite. In this video, the professionals at San José Veterinaris explain the types of scabies and their treatments.

Dermatitis in dog puppies

Finally, within the types of dermatitis in dogs we mention those that affect puppies. Are impetigo and acne. These are mild superficial skin infections that appear in puppies less than one year old. Impetigo is characterized by the presence of blisters with pus in the abdomen and groin area. Brown scabs can also be seen when the blisters burst. It is more common in animals that are in poor hygienic conditions. Acne can appear from 3 months of age. It is characterized by pustules and pimples on the chin and lower lip, especially, although they can also occur in the genital area and the groin. Both dermatitis can be treated with baths with a specific shampoo. Antibiotics are sometimes needed for acne, although this usually clears up as the puppy grows.

Is dermatitis in dogs contagious??

Dermatitis in dogs is not contagious, since, as we have seen, this is a disorder that is defined as inflammation of the skin. Now, when dermatitis has been caused by flea bites, by certain fungi or mites, we must know that this can be contagious. In this way, what is transferred is not the dermatitis itself, but the cause that causes it.

¿Dermatitis in dogs spreads to humans?

Again, DO NOT. Dermatitis itself cannot be spread, but it is true that there are certain scabies mites, which cause canine dermatitis, that can affect humans. These are sarcoptic, otodectic, cheyletiella and notoedric scabies.

How to cure dermatitis in dogs: treatment

Apart from the specific treatments for cases of dermatitis due to fungi, mites or diseases, dermatitis in dogs is usually treated through the use of a specific shampoo, ointments or lozenges. Likewise, in cases of hereditary or genetic atopic or seborrheic dermatitis, we must know that there is no cure. The indicated products are prescribed to alleviate symptoms as much as possible and to ensure that the animal enjoys a good quality of life. In the specific case of atopic dermatitis, it is necessary to find the allergen that causes the hypersensitivity. In addition, in all cases it is necessary to control the presence of external parasites.

Shampoo for dogs with dermatitis

There are several shampoos that we can find to treat dermatitis in dogs depending on the type that we face. Thus, we can opt for an antiseborrheic shampoo, a shampoo for atopic skin, etc. In general, these products are usually made up of ingredients designed for sensitive skin, such as aloe vera, whose properties have the ability to relieve the symptoms of dermatitis.

Ointment for dermatitis in dogs

In some cases the veterinarian may indicate the use of an ointment to soothe itching, reduce inflammation and redness. It should be applied to the affected areas and it will be the specialist who will say which is the best ointment depending on the type of dermatitis and the frequency of use..

Pills for dermatitis in dogs

In the most severe cases, drugs may be used to reduce itching and skin inflammation. This type of treatment is usually complemented by others, such as the use of shampoo or ointment and a proper diet. It should be the veterinarian who prescribes the drugs.

Spray for dermatitis in dogs

This is another of the formats in which we can find the different treatments for dermatitis in dogs. For some tutors, it is easier to apply a spray than an ointment or administer a pill, for example, that is why these products are also prescribed in order to soothe itching, promote wound healing, reduce inflammation and, in general, help the animal restore its skin barrier.

In any case, it should be the veterinarian who indicates the best product to treat dermatitis in dogs, always having explored the causes of it..

Dermatitis in dogs: home remedies

Especially in cases of dermatitis in dogs that have no cure, such as atopic and seborrheic dermatitis, the use of home remedies is indicated to relieve symptoms naturally. Of course, we must bear in mind that these remedies should not replace veterinary treatment.

Among the different remedies that exist, natural oils, oatmeal baths, aloe vera and a good diet stand out as the most effective. For more details, don't miss this article: "Home remedies for dermatitis in dogs ".

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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