"Dermatoses in Dogs

"Dermatoses in Dogs

Health & Safety

Dermatoses refers to skin conditions that can be caused by several factors. This includes bacterial infections as well as genetic disorders of the skin that a dog may have inherited from their parents. Sometimes the condition is purely cosmetic and involves a lack or loss of pigmentation found on a dog's skin or in their coats and these are typically never harmful to their health.

Dogs Most at Risk

There are certain breeds that are more susceptible to suffering from dermatoses than others and this includes the following:

  • German Shepherds - they often develop bacterial skin infections around their eyelids, lips and nostrils
  • Collies - they are more prone to suffering from a condition known as discoid lupus which is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own skin which is typically around the face
  • Shetland Sheepdogs - much like Collies, they are predisposed to suffering from discoid lupus
  • Chow Chows - are more prone to developing autoimmune diseases which impact their skin which becomes crusted and inflamed
  • Akitas - much like Chow Chows are more predisposed to autoimmune disorders that affect the skin. They are also more prone to developing a rare condition that negatively impacts the front area of their eyes
  • Samoyeds - like Akitas are prone to the same rare condition that affects the front part of their eyes with the iris being the part that's the most affected. Dogs lose pigmentation around their noses and lips when they suffer from the condition
  • Siberian Huskies are more prone to developing the same rare condition that affects the front of their eyes as Akitas and Samoyeds. They can also show a seasonal loss of pigment around their noses
  • Dobermann Pinschers are predisposed to a condition that's characterised by a lack of pigmentation in their skin more especially around their faces and noses
  • Rottweilers much like the Dobermann Pinscher suffers the same lack of pigment around their faces and noses
  • Labrador Retrievers also display a loss of pigmentation around their noses which is seasonal
  • Alaskan Malamutes, like the Labrador Retriever suffers a seasonal loss of pigment more especially around their noses
  • Giant Schnauzers are more prone to suffering inflammation of arteries found in the nasal philtrum which is the part of their face between the sides of their upper lips that extends to their noses
  • Saint Bernards like the Giant Schnauzer is often afflicted by the same problem in the arteries of the nasal philtrum

Types of Dermatoses

There several types of dermatoses that can affect different breeds and this includes the following:

  • White hair which is referred to as leukotrichia
  • A partial of complete lack of pigment in a dog's skin which is referred to as leukoderma
  • A reddening and soreness of the skin which is referred to as erythema
  • The loss of the top layer of skin which is referred to as ulceration or erosion depending on the depth of tissue damage

Causes of Dermatoses

There are several reasons why a dog may develop the conditions and this includes the following:

  • A bacterial skin infection which impacts a dog's lips, eyelids, nostrils
  • A fungal infection that affects a dog's skin
  • Allergies where a dog's face is most affected
  • Sore, red skin which typically affects the face and ears
  • Scabs and pus on the skin
  • Loss of hair and/or skin colour more especially if skin has been inflamed
  • A loss of colour on the nose and lips which can also negatively impact a dog's vision
  • Seasonal loss of nasal pigmentation
  • Nasal philtrum arteries become inflamed
  • Albinism which is genetically linked
  • Vitiligo

There are also several disorders that can result in a dog suffering severe skin issues and which can also seriously impact their internal organs which are as follows:

  • Autoimmune disease which is often genetically linked
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus
  • Pemphigus foliaceus
  • Pemphigus erythematosus
  • Uveodermatologic syndrome
  • Hormonal disorders
  • A serious reaction to certain drugs and medication

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to know a dog's full medical history and how their skin condition first manifested itself before thoroughly examining them. This information is important especially if a dog has recently suffered from some form of infection. A vet would then carry out the following tests:

  • A full blood chemical profile
  • A complete blood count
  • An electrolyte panel
  • A urinalysis

Blood samples can be used to test for any autoimmune disorders. A vet would also take some skin samples and scrapings which would be sent for laboratory testing. A vet might also recommend taking fluid samples from a dog's joints to rule out lupus. The results of these tests would determine why a dog has developed dermatoses and vets can then recommend the right treatment options based on these results.

Treatment Options

Normally a dog can be treated with antibiotics when they have developed a bacterial or fungal infection. However, if they are suffering from any sort of organ dysfunction due to lupus, they may need to be hospitalised. Should the results come back showing a dog is suffering from an autoimmune disorder, a vet would typically prescribe immunosuppressive drugs to manage and control the condition. If a dog's vision is being impaired by their condition, a vet could recommend referring them to a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist.

Living with a Dog Suffering from Dermatoses

Should a dog be diagnosed as suffering from lupus in its many forms, it is important for them not to be exposed to the sun for any length of time and to apply water resistant sunblock to the areas of their skin that's affected by the condition. It is also a good idea to feed dogs out of ceramic or metal dishes rather than plastic ones which could have rough edges and this could aggravate their condition. Dogs suffering from dermatoses need to be regularly checked over by a vet to make sure their condition is not getting any worse and if they have been prescribed immunosuppressive drugs to manage and control their condition, they should be given regular blood tests to make sure things are still okay.

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