Five common skin conditions seen in dogs

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Skin disease and allergies are a common problem seen in pets. The condition of your pet’s coat and skin is an important indicator of their overall health. As with allergies or skin reactions in people, these conditions can vary from acute, self-limiting problems to chronic or long-lasting problems requiring life-long treatment.

Dogs suffer from a variety of different skin conditions and allergies that routinely need a vet’s attention. Here are five common skin conditions found in dogs:

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)

This is the most common skin disease in pets, and results from an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction to the flea’s saliva during feeding. Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t need a huge flea burden to develop a reaction, and in fact can develop FAD if they have only 1-2 fleas on their body.

Atopic dermatitis (Atopy)

Atopy is caused by a general allergic or hypersensitive reaction to an indoor or environmental allergen. This can include plants, pollen, dust mites and mould spores. Atopy results in itching, especially in skin folds like the flanks and armpits. Over time it progresses to infection and generalised dermatitis. Many of these microscopic allergens penetrate through the skin directly as dogs with this condition often have a genetically inherited skin barrier defect.

Food allergy dermatitis

This condition usually develops from one year of age onwards. If you suspect your dog may be suffering a food allergy, it is recommended to change to a strict food elimination trial diet for three months. This usually involves feeding your dog a sole protein diet using food that your pet has never had before, e.g. kangaroo and pumpkin, and nothing else. If the symptoms improve over this time, there is a possibility your dog has a food allergy. At the end of this time, test your dog by going back to the regular diet and monitor if symptoms reoccur. If they do, chances are it is a food allergy. The most common allergens in dogs in Australia are beef, chicken and wheat.


Mange is a skin disease of dogs, which is commonly caused by two types of mites: Demodex or Scabies.

Hot spots

Hot spots are another common skin disease seen on dogs. Its medical name is traumatic pyodermatitis. It usually appears as a moist patch of hair loss on your dog’s skin that is very itchy. Often, it can discharge of pus, which tends to smell bad. They can be caused by anything that irritates your dog’s skin including infections, wounds, flea bites, etc, leading to the dog chewing at the skin. It then gets worse through persistent chewing and licking, which in turns causes further infection and itching. These wounds usually end up with a secondary bacterial infection.

If your pet is suffering from irritated skin, call 4736 2027 to arrange an appointment.

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