Psoriasis is a skin condition that can affect either dogs or people, and is caused by an autoimmune disorder that often lasts for prolonged periods of time, leading to changes to the texture and colour of certain patches of the skin. It is usually easy to identify by its scaly, red patches that are often flaky as well as itchy and irritable, and as the skin itself is damaged in such areas, this can also raise the chances of the dog developing a secondary infection. Psoriasis may affect small, localised spots and patches of the body only, or become very severe, spreading across virtually the whole body of the dog.
While psoriasis is not contagious or at all dangerous to other dogs or people and is often overlooked as a minor condition because it is topical and affects the skin, it is important to get treatment for your dog from the vet, as the condition can lead to additional complications. Left unchecked, your dog is likely to bite, scratch and lick their psoriasis patches to distraction, leading to open wounds and secondary infections developing in a dog that is already, by the nature of the condition, immuno-compromised.
While the condition can affect any breed or type of dog that is immune compromised, psoriasis tends to present more often in some breeds of dog than others, including the West Highland terrier and the Golden retriever.
In this article, we will look at the symptoms of psoriasis in dogs, and how it can be treated and managed. Read on to learn more.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that occurs in some dogs whose immune system is weak or compromised, due to an associated acceleration of the division of the body’s T-cells, which are produced by the immune system.
Healthy T-cells in a dog that is not immune compromised take months to divide, but when they divide faster, sometimes within just a few days, they lead to the development of a scaly red plaque on the skin’s surface, which is the signature of psoriasis.
Psoriasis symptoms are sometimes confused with other skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and food allergies. It is important to have such issues checked out by your vet in order to get a definitive diagnosis, and if possible, find out what is causing your dog’s immune system to be compromised in the first place.
Treatment of psoriasis in dogs usually takes an inclusive approach to both dealing with the topical presentation of the condition, and also, addressing the underlying cause of the immune system compromise, and supporting healthy immune function as much as possible.
Topical creams and shampoos that contain ingredients such as sulphur or coal tar are often used to help to ease the surface symptoms of canine psoriasis, and such products help to ease the itching and irritation that accompanies the condition, and also help to support healthy keratin growth.
Topical application of a solution of potassium permanganate may also be advised, as this unique cleaning disinfectant can again help to clear up sore patches and make them less irritating. Foods and supplements that are rich in Omega-6 may also help, as can salicylic acid, which again, helps to improve the general condition of the skin.
Because patches of psoriasis tend to be very dry, itchy and flaky, moisturising the affected patches can help as well, and anything that can be done to limit or prevent your dog from scratching their psoriasis is a good idea too.
Because psoriasis only develops in dogs with weak or compromised immune systems, help and support for the immune system is an integral part of treating psoriasis.
Nutritional supplements that are rich in vitamin C, zinc and Omega-6 all help to support immune function, and these are often recommended for dogs with psoriasis. Feeding a good quality diet that fulfils all of your dog’s needs without the presence of a lot of added sugar, salt or bulking agents is also wise, and foods with additives, colorants or preservatives should be avoided.
Good foods for dogs with psoriasis and a compromised immune system should contain only good quality single source ingredients, such as whole grains rather than by-products like gluten, flour, cornmeal and artificial preservatives.
Dogs that are able to get plenty of vitamin D, which comes from sunshine, tend to have better skin than those that don’t spend much time outside, as vitamin D helps to support healthy tissue and skin health, both in dogs with psoriasis and those without any skin conditions. Sunlight itself plays an integral role in destroying the hyperactive T-cells that cause psoriasis, and so daily exposure to sun or a medically approved sun lamp is important for dogs with psoriasis.