Dry, dull coat. Incessant scratching and chewing. Sound familiar? Dog skin problems are often the most common complaint at the veterinarian’s office, accounting for almost a quarter of the office visits a clinician sees in a typical day. So what are some of the most common dog skin problems and what can pet parents do to keep a dog’s skin healthy?
1. Itchy Skin
Dogs with itchy skin, officially referred to as pruritus, are a very common sight in the clinic. In fact, dog itching is the primary complaint associated with up to 40% of all vet visits for a skin problem. Persistent scratching can consume a dog’s life, keeping both the pet and the pet parent up all night. In addition to feeling miserable, itchy dogs can develop secondary skin lesions, infections, and hair loss from the trauma of teeth and nails on their skin.
So what causes a dog to itch? Allergies are a very common cause of itchy skin and can be further divided into three major categories: fleas, environment, and food. While flea bites cause a transient irritation to both pets and people, dogs with a true flea allergy are hypersensitive. One bite can be enough to trigger a systemic bout of chewing and scratching. Fleas can be a challenge to manage, requiring treatment of all household pets as well as the environment, but the good news is once the fleas are under control, so is the itching.
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