Dermatitis in dogs: symptoms, treatment and prevention


The term dermatitis refers to skin inflammation common in dogs and the causes of which are extremely diverse. Whether atopic, allergic or infectious for example, it justifies a consultation with the veterinarian. It is indeed important that a treatment be prescribed quickly because dermatitis causes itching and lesions can be caused by untimely scratching. Spotlight on the different dermatitis in dogs, their causes, manifestations, possible treatments and ways to prevent these inflammatory skin diseases.

The main dermatitis in dogs

Regardless of its type, dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that causes a real discomfort for the dog because the itching can be unbearable and the sores caused by scratching, painful.

Atopic dermatitis

Of genetic origin, it mainly affects young people dogs aged 12 to 36 months. The itching is quite virulent. Hair loss, lesions, ear infections, sneezing, secretions from the nose or from the eyes are common. There may also be a secondary bacterial infection.

Flea bite allergic dermatitis (DAPP)

Common, DAPP affects dogs allergic to any of the flea saliva substances. Scratching is frequent because the itching is violent. There is localized alopecia (hair loss), red pimples, then sores that become infected, thickening of the skin or even scabs.

Food allergy dermatitis

It is another form of allergic dermatitis. Animal or vegetable proteins and additives can be at the origin. Its main symptoms are pruritus (itching), licking and biting which eventually causes skin damage. More rarely, foodborne allergic dermatitis can have a otitis for main manifestation.

Licking dermatitis

It develops in dogs that lick themselves so compulsive or nibble insistently on the same area. Its causes are multiple: presence of a foreign body, extensive itching, furunculosis, fungal infection, pain (bones, joints, muscles), tumor. Lick dermatitis also sometimes occurs in a dog that has an implant. But its cause may be psychological. We know that an obsessive disease, boredom, stress or anxiety can be the cause of licking dermatitis.

There are many other forms of dermatitis, such as:

  • The hot-spot or wet dermatitis: the animal spreads the infection by licking itself. Painful lesions appear with discharge of pus associated with a foul odor.
  • Dermatitis (or eczema) seborrheic oily or dry form: it is due to an excess production of sebum by a sebaceous gland. Its causes are diverse since this dermatitis can originate from an autoimmune disease, an endocrine disease, a parasite, an allergy, a mycosis… The manifestations differ according to the form of the affection. Strong body odor and peeling, severe itching, scratching, sores.
  • The contact dermatitis : some dogs show this type of dermatitis when they are in contact with a plastic bowl, a leather collar or an irritating chemical such as a shampoo or a detergent… A single contact can be enough to cause this type of inconvenience. This condition can be very localized or more extensive and results in inflammation of the skin and red pimples.

It is essential to be able to identify the type of dermatitis from which the dog is suffering so that an adequate treatment can be prescribed. This is the reason why a consultation is required as soon as the dog scratches insistently for more than 24 hours.

Dermatitis in dogs: diagnosis and treatment

The veterinarian must look for the cause dermatitis to be able to adapt the treatment on a case-by-case basis and also treat the underlying disease. Blood samples and analysis are often necessary, or even an imaging test when the presence of a tumor is suspected. An allergological assessment is useful in the event of allergic dermatitis.

Calming spray, ointment, treating shampoo for atopic skin, anti-seborrheic lotion are part of the range of local care used to treat dermatitis and soothe itching. The veterinarian can also prescribe a case by case antihistamine, corticosteroids, a pest control, a desensitization. In parallel, still depending on the identified cause, a anti stress may prove to be essential.

Note also that if the dermatitis is due to a food allergy, the diet of the dog must be hypoallergenic.

Dermatitis in dogs: prevention

Some forms of this skin condition can be avoided. It is necessary eliminate all risk of infection by a parasite by regularly cleaning the dog’s environment and by regularly treating all animals that live in the home. To limit the risk of allergies of all kinds, we opt for a very high quality diet, and we avoid all materials and products that could cause an allergic reaction in dogs.

Finally, knowing that dermatitis can be due to stress, the dog owner should avoid disruptive situations. We don’t shout to be heard, and we take time every day to play with our dog or take him for a long walk so that he does not get bored.

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