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Itchy skin diseases in dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Health and Nutrition' started by FEWill, May 15, 2010.

  1. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

    Sep 2, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Itchy skin diseases in dogs are one of the largest problems, if not the largest, that any owner will face at some point in your dogs life. However, for several dogs, this can be an ongoing experience that can be very painful and cause severe infections if it is not corrected. Itchy skin is most often associated with Atopy in dogs, and although this is one of the most common causes for this condition, it is just one of many. Below is a listing of the most common as well as uncommon causes of your dog itching.

    Allergic Dermatitis:

    Itchy skin diseases in dogs start with Allergic Dermatitis which is a general term that is given to describe groups of skin allergies in your dog that can be caused by several different factors. Any time your dog develops an allergy; their immune system reacts to a foreign body, referred to as allergen, and attacks it. This reaction occurs after the initial exposure, and if the exposure continues, it develops a hypersensitivity which causes itching as well as inflammation.

    The most common cause of Allergic Dermatitis is flea bite allergies, food allergies, as well as Atopy.

    However, it can also be the result of a drug reaction, hormonal allergies, bacterial allergies, as well as allergies to parasites.


    Itchy skin diseases in dogs continue with Atopy, which is a skin disease that is caused as the result of an allergy in the environment. It is contracted by your dog through the air and is than absorbed through the respiratory tract or by contact with the skin. It is believed to be hereditary, and is second only to flea allergy dermatitis. The symptoms of this potentially painful and damaging skin condition usually start before your dogs first year of life.

    In most cases, it starts out as a seasonal condition in the early or mid summer months. This is the time of year when the airborne allergies, especially plant pollen, are at their peak concentrations. However, as your dog ages, it stops being a seasonal condition simply because your dog system weakens and they are now affected by more allergens. Once this occurs, it becomes a year around problem and the itching is concentrated in their feet.

    Contact Dermatitis:

    Contact dermatitis is a less common type of itchy skin diseases in dogs simply because of their hair coat acts as a protective layer over the skin. However, it can very easily develop in any area where their hair coat is thin and comes in two different forms; allergic or irritant. Your dog can be affected by this form by different type of plants, medications, or some chemicals. However, it is believed the most common cause of this skin disease is something much simpler; your dog’s plastic or rubber feeding dish. For this reason, you should always use a metal or ceramic feeding bowel and watering dish.

    On the average it generally takes a period of sensitization by your dog’s immune system for this form to develop, but it differs tremendously in some dogs. In some cases, the reaction may occur within six months, while in other cases it may take as long as two years.


    Itchy skin diseases in dogs also include chiggers, which are also known as harvest mites. These mites are very difficult to prevent, but relatively easy to treat. They are most common in early spring and late fall and live in grassy areas where there is a lot of chalky soil. They are small reddish-orange in color and about the size of the head of a pin. They can cause severe skin irritations between your dogs toes as well as around their ears and mouth.

    Fleas Bites and Flea Bite Dermatitis:

    This form of itchy skin disease, although considered part of the allergic dermatitis, is such a threat this it still belongs in its own category. Fleas affect your dogs back in the vast majority of cases, but can also affect the area around their tail as well as their hindquarters. If it is true flea dermatitis as opposed to just flea bites, it will cause very painful areas on your dogs ears.

    Less Common Forms:

    Itchy skin diseases in dogs have several other potential causes, but they are generally less common. Pelodera, also known as damp hay itch is another potential cause and can develop into red pimple-like bumps on your dogs skin that will be extremely itchy. Food allergy dermatitis also can cause extreme itching and can develop into papules, pustules, and wheals. This form of itchy skin usually affects your dogs ears, the rump area, as well as their back legs and under body. Other sources include lice, grubs, as well as ticks.


    Itchy skin in your dog is not only an irritant to your pet; it can also be a very painful ordeal. Once your dog starts to itch, you should immediately have it checked by your veterinarian in order to determine the actual underlying cause. Once this is determined, most all cases are easily treated.
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