Skin issues are some of the most common reasons pet owners seek advice from our veterinarians. A persistent itch can cause a lot of discomfort for dogs, and occasionally skin issues may also be a sign of other underlying health issues. Fleas, environmental allergies, and adverse food reactions are all very common reasons we see skin issues with our pets. Luckily, there are lots of treatment options available.

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What are the causes, symptoms & diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

Bacterial skin infections can be a result of your pet scratching and digging at the skin, so often that the skin becomes broken allowing bacteria to infect the wound. If your dog is licking often at a certain area, you may notice the area becoming red, irritated and discharge may also be present. Your veterinarian will examine the skin to determine the best course of action, this may include a skin scraping (a small sample of the skin is taken so it can be viewed under the microscope). Topical and/or oral medications may be recommended to treat the infection.

What causes ringworm and what are the symptoms to look for? What treatments are available?

Although its name may tell us a different story, ringworm is not a worm at all, it is actually a fungus. The name is a result of the round, red ring appearance as seen on human skin when infected. Ringworm is spread through contact with the fungus. This could be from direct contact or contact with an infected item such as bedding. Symptoms of ringworm include hair loss in small round patches, dry hair, brittle nails and scabbed/inflamed skin. Diagnosing ringworm may require examining your pet’s skin under a special ultraviolet light (Woods Lamp), or sending a sample away for a fungal culture. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will suggest a treatment course including topical and oral medications.

What causes allergic skin disease? What treatments are available?

Allergic skin diseases in dogs can be caused by food, flea or environmental allergies. Some dogs may suffer from more than one type of allergy. Depending on the suspected culprit, your veterinarian will create a treatment plan for your dog, which may or may not include oral medications, injectable medications, topical medications, shampoos, supplements and a special diet.

What causes parasitic skin disease? What treatments are available?

Common causes of parasitic skin disease are fleas, ticks, mange, ear mites and lice. Although you may be able to tell if your pet has fleas or ticks at home, any other causes will need veterinary attention in order to diagnose the issue. A skin scraping or ear swab sample may be taken so that we can view the sample under a microscope and figure out who the culprit is. Your veterinarian will then provide you with the best course of action which may include topical and oral medications.

What causes hormonal skin disease? What treatments are available?

The effects hormones have on your pet’s skin can be difficult to diagnose. Just like with people; the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands, testicles, and ovaries all produce hormones which if excessive (hyper), deficient (hypo), or out of balance can cause changes to skin and hair. Testing options may include; bloodwork, urinalysis, skin biopsies and ultrasound. Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will create a treatment plan for your pet which may include medication or surgery.

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