What to do for my dogs seasonal allergies
Some systemic diseases can become symptomatic as a skin disorder. These include numerous endocrine (hormonal) abnormalities, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome (hyperadrenocorticism), and tumors of the ovaries or testicles.
Hereditary and developmental skin diseases
Some diseases are inherent abnormalities of skin structure or function. These include seborrheic dermatitis, ichthyosis, skin fragility syndrome (Ehlers-Danlos), hereditary canine follicular dysplasia and hypotrichosis, such as color dilution alopecia.
Juvenile cellulitis, also known as puppy strangles, is a skin disease of puppies of unknown etiology, which most likely has a hereditary component related to the immune system.
Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
In rare cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening.
This affects the whole body and usually develops within minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to.
Signs of anaphylaxis include any of the symptoms above, as well as:
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.
Read more about anaphylaxis for information about what to do if it occurs.
Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021
Skin disorders are among the most common health problems in dogs, and own numerous causes. The condition of a dog’s skin and jacket are also an significant indicator of its general health. Skin disorders of dogs vary from acute, self-limiting problems to chronic or long-lasting problems requiring life-time treatment. Skin disorders may be primary or secondary (due to scratching, itch) in nature, making diagnosis complicated.
Immune-mediated skin disorders
Skin disease may result from deficiency or overactivity of immune responses.
In cases where there are insufficient immune responses, the disease is generally described by the secondary disease that results.
Examples include increased susceptibility to demodectic mange and recurrent skin infections, such as Malassezia infection or bacterial infections. Increased but harmful immune responses can be divided into hypersensitivity disorders such as atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders (autoimmunity), such as pemphigus and discoid lupus erythematosus.
Atopy is a hereditary and chronic (lifelong) allergic skin disease.
Signs generally start between 6 months and 3 years of age, with some breeds of dog, such as the golden retriever, showing signs at an earlier age. Dogs with atopic dermatitis are itchy, especially around the eyes, muzzle, ears and feet. In severe cases, the irritation is generalised. If the allergens are seasonal, the signs of irritation are similarly seasonal. Numerous dogs with home dust mite allergy own perennial disease. Some of the allergens associated with atopy in dogs include pollens of trees, grasses and weeds, as well as molds and home dust mites.
Ear and skin infections by the bacteria Staphylococcus pseudintermedius and the yeast Malassezia pachydermatis are commonly secondary to atopic dermatitis.
Food allergy can be associated with identical signs and some authorities consider food allergy to be a type of atopic dermatitis. Food allergy can be identified through the use of elimination diet trials in which a novel or hydrolysed protein diet is used for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Diagnosis of atopic dermatitis is by elimination of other causes of irritation, including fleas, mites, and other parasites, such as Cheyletiella and lice. Allergies to aeroallergens can be identified using intradermal allergy testing and/or blood testing (allergen-specific IgE ELISA).
Treatment includes avoidance of the offending allergens if possible, but for most dogs this is not practical or effective. Other treatments modulate the adverse immune response to allergens and include antihistamines, steroids, ciclosporin, and immunotherapy (a process in which allergens are injected to attempt to induce tolerance). In numerous cases, shampoos, medicated wipes and ear cleaners are needed to attempt to prevent the return of infections.
Autoimmune skin diseases
Pemphigus foliaceus is the most common autoimmune disease of the dog. Blisters in the epidermis rapidly break to form crusts and erosions, most often affecting the face and ears initially, but in some cases spreading to include the whole body.
The paw pads can be affected, causing marked hyperkeratosis (thickening of the pads with scale). Other autoimmune diseases include bullous pemphigoid and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita.
Treatment of autoimmune skin requires methods to reduce the abnormal immune response; steroids, azathioprine and other drugs are used as immunosuppressive agents.
Infectious skin diseases
Infectious skin diseases of dogs include contagious and non-contagious infections or infestations. Contagious infections include parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral skin diseases.
One of the most common contagious parasitic skin diseases is Sarcoptic mange (scabies). Another is mange caused by Demodex mites (Demodicosis), though this form of mange is not contagious.
Another contagious infestation is caused by a mite, Cheyletiella. Dogs can be infested with contagious lice.
Other ectoparasites, including flea and tick infestations are not considered directly contagious but are acquired from an environment where other infested hosts own established the parasite’s life cycle.
Ringworm is a fungal skin infection and is more common in puppies than in adult dogs.
Non-contagious skin infections can result when normal bacterial or fungal skin flora is allowed to proliferate and cause skin disease. Common examples in dogs include Staphylococcus intermediuspyoderma, and Malassezia dermatitis caused by overgrowth of Malassezia pachydermatis.
Alabama rot, which is believed to be caused by E.
coli toxins, also causes skin lesions and eventual kidney failure in 25% of cases.
Flea allergy dermatitis
Main article: Flea allergy dermatitis
Main allergy symptoms
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
- itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
- wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
- tummy pain, feeling ill, vomiting or diarrhoea
- sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
- swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- dry, red and cracked skin
The symptoms vary depending on what you’re allergic to and how you come into contact with it.
For example, you may have a runny nose if exposed to pollen, develop a rash if you own a skin allergy, or feel sick if you eat something you’re allergic to.
See your GP if you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something. They can assist determine whether the symptoms are caused by an allergy or another condition.
Read more about diagnosing allergies.
Physical and environmental skin diseases
Main article: Boiling spot (veterinary medicine)
A boiling spot, or acute moist dermatitis, is an acutely inflamed and infected area of skin irritation created and made worse by a dog licking and biting at itself. A boiling spot can manifest and spread rapidly in a matter of hours, as secondary Staphylococcus infection causes the top layers of the skin to break below and pus becomes trapped in the hair.
Boiling spots can be treated with corticosteroid medications and oral or topical antibiotic applications, as well as clipping hair from around the lesion. Underlying causes include flea allergy dermatitis or other allergic skin diseases.
Dogs with thick undercoats are most susceptible to developing boiling spots.
Acral lick granulomas
Lick granulomas are raised, generally ulcerated areas on a dog’s extremity caused by the dog’s own incessant, compulsive licking. Compulsive licking is defined as licking in excess of that required for standard grooming or exploration, and represents a change in the animal’s typical behavior and interferes with other activities or functions (e.g., eating, drinking, playing, interacting with people) and cannot easily be interrupted.