Pet Skin Conditions
The skin is the largest organ system of the body, because of this, dogs and cats suffer from many problems that affect their skin. It functions as a barrier to protect the body from infections, caustic substances, UV light and dehydration. Great health and function of the skin is dependent upon the health and function of all organs that make up our pets’ bodies.
Skin and coat problems are very common on domestic animals. Diseases that may affect the skin are classified as primary or secondary skin disorders. Primary skin disorders affect the skin directly, such as parasitic hyper-sensitivities. Secondary infections involve other organs and thereby affect the skin, such as hypothyroidism.
Below are many different types of conditions that may affect pets:
|Abscesses in dogs||Interdigital Furunculosis|
Abscesses in dogs
The pus in an abscess can be solid or liquid, which is the result of tissue breakdown. It is usually cloudy white to off-white or yellow. The pus contains serum, blood, liquid tissue, and toxic white blood cells. When a microorganism or foreign object enters the skin tissue an abscess is the result. The tissue reacts to the foreign object or organism and the waste from the reaction becomes the pus. At that point the pus is considered cellulites which if not removed by the body, the body will put a wall of fibrin around it to protect itself from the debris. Fibrin is similar to a scab. After the fibrin is formed the cellulites is called an abscess.
The abscess will rupture with time if the pressure inside continues to increase. If not evaluated and treated the body will turn the fibrin into more fibrous connective tissue. After that point the healing will include filling the abscess with scar tissue. This healing with scar tissue is not the end. The pus may continue to drain from a sinus tract. Abscesses on dogs can be anywhere in the body but most commonly are found on the skin, anal glands, prostate gland, eye, or mammary gland.
Common symptoms of an abscess are pain, swelling, redness, loss of function, and heat. If the abscess is visible and ruptures it looks to be a painful open wound with pus drainage. Some dogs have a fever, loss of appetite and pain. Most dogs have a history of injury or infection. The abscess can affect near-by organs from the pressure and size of the abscess.
Acne affects dogs but is less common than acne in cats. The young dogs are usually affected. Most commonly short haired dogs are affected such as Boxers, Great Danes and Bulldogs. The cause is unknown but believed to be from trauma. The trauma could be from the hair braking below the skin and causing the skin to become inflamed. Some dogs respond to simple daily cleansing.
Acne in dogs can be as uncomfortable and unattractive to the eye as human acne. Dog’s acne is usually located on the chin and around the face. Acne is the same as in humans in that the clogged oil gland becomes infected by bacteria. How it gets to that point is unknown. However it is believed that normal scratching irritates or breaks the hair causing inflammation. Another belief is that allergies or hormones are to blame.
Usually young dogs get acne in the bigger breeds such as Great Danes and mastiffs. Acne can make the dog uncomfortable. Treatment includes daily cleaning with Medicated Pet Wash to remove bacteria on the skin and keep oil glands open. The water should be slightly warmer than lukewarm but not hot. Scrub gently with a washcloth and rinse well with warm water to remove soap. The mild, antibacterial Pet Wash is recommended because normal soaps may irritate the skin further. To open the clogged oil glands use a hot pack on the area. A hot pack can be a damp, hot (not scalding) washcloth. Holding it on the area until the cloth is cool is recommended once per day.
Acanthosis Nigricans is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is dark, thickened skin with hair loss usually from scratching and rubbing. The scratching and rubbing can lead to inflammation which results in acanthosis nigricans. There is primary acanthosis nigricans which is rare. This usually occurs in either sex of dachshunds by the first birthday. There is secondary acanthosis nigricans which is very common, and affects all breeds, usually those with conformational abnormalities, obesity, hypothyroidism, atopy, food allergy, contact dermatitis, and skin infections.
The dog will have a lesion that is darker and thicker than the normal skin. The lesions usually show signs of secondary infection. Common locations are neck, groin, abdomen, and perineum. Some dogs itch and others do not. It is believed that the itch is linked to an underlying disease or secondary infection. With time the lesion becomes bald with seborrheic dermatitis and an infection.
Unfortunately there is no cure for primary acanthosis nigricans in dachshunds. With secondary acanthosis nigricans in the early stages, most dogs can be treated with topical therapy such as our Pet Skin Care Pack which includes our Healing & Protection Spray and Medicated Pet Wash. In the later stages, systemic therapy is usually necessary. If the secondary infection and underlying cause are treated then secondary acanthosis nigricans will resolve slowly. It may take months for all the symptoms to disappear.
Acral Lick Dermatitis
Acral lick dermatitis, lick granuloma, or canine neurodermatitis is self mutilation in dogs. The dogs will habitually and repeatedly lick, chew or scratch for no apparent reason. This is called stereotypic behavior. Another example of stereotypic behavior is excessive grooming. The most common location for Acral lick dermatitis is the limbs. Some symptoms include hair loss and lesions which can be small or cover the whole leg. The lesion is then unable to treat with the continuation of the licking and chewing. The result is pain and discomfort which can be crippling.
Acral lick dermatitis can affect all dogs but is most common in large active dogs. The most common breeds affected are Great Dane, German Shepard, Doberman, golden retriever and Labrador retriever. Acral lick dermatitis is a behavioral disorder. When active dogs become bored, socially isolated, confined for a long time or physically punished continually, the dog has tension. To relieve the tension the dog will lick or chew. Another cause of licking can be a pet owner who is nervous or over attentive, pushing their emotions onto their dog. A new animal or person in the house can cause licking and chewing. If an owner sees their dog licking constantly they need to rule out other conditions. Some other conditions that can have the same symptoms are infections, neoplasia, foreign bodies, trauma, and allergies.
Acral lick dermatitis can be difficult to treat because even when a treatment works, it may not work consistently. However there are many treatments available such as collars, bandages, topical treatments, surgery, radiation, drugs, and behavior modification.
Some signs that a dog may have allergies are: chewing at skin, excessive licking, scooting bottom on ground, rubbing on objects or ground, licking or chewing of feet, watery eyes, ear irritation, and sneezing. There are five categories of skin allergies:
- One is flea allergies, which can cause itching on the neck, tail base, or anywhere on body. Just one flea can set off an allergic dog’s symptoms. This problem can be seasonal or year round.
- A second category is food allergies. This can cause itching around face, ears and feet, or all over the body. This allergy will be year round and can be from wheat, beef or chicken.
- The third category is contact allergies, but this is not very common. The usual location of itching is abdomen and feet because there is less hair. Some allergens can be grass, plants, and rough material. This is usually seasonal but can be year round.
- Fourth is an inhaled allergy, which is very common in dogs. Symptoms are usually seen all over the body. Some common allergens are grass, pollens, dust mites, and mold. This is usually seasonal but can be year round.
- The fifth is allergy to bacteria normally found on all dogs’ skin. This is usually year round.
Some dogs have multiple allergies. Therefore if a dog has flea and grass allergies, then eliminating the fleas will not eliminate all the symptoms. In such a case medication may be need to relieve the grass allergy symptoms.
Atopy is an intense, itchy skin condition related to allergies caused by inhaled allergens such as dust, dust mites, mold, and pollen. Your pet may excessively lick, bite, or chew the toes or feet, the areas under the front legs, or the groin. He may also scratch and/or rub the areas around the mouth, nose, and jaw. Hair loss, crusty patches, redness, and rash-like bumps are commonly seen on the feet and ears. The hair may be oily while the skin may be thickened in some areas. Special allergy testing can be done through blood tests or skin testing to diagnose atopy. Skin testing is more sensitive but needs to be done by a veterinary dermatologist which is more expensive.
Autoimmune Skin Disorders in Dogs
The immune system wrongly directs antibodies to fight the glue holding skin cells together. This leads to a separation of the cells called acantholysis. One uncommon disease that affects dogs is pemphigus foliceus. The symptoms include eroded, ulcerated, crusty and thickened skin. Glucocorticoids are used in high doses to gain control of the disease and low doses to maintain control. Dogs that do not respond to therapy have poor long-term prognosis.
Pemphigus vulgaris is another rare disease affecting dogs. The lesions are similar to pemphigus foliaceus except for the location. Pemphigus vulgaris is located in the mouth, with secondary infection very common. Pemphigus vulgaris is fatal if untreated. The treatment consists of high doses of glucocorticoids. The disease does not stay in remission and prognosis is poor.
Bullous pemphigoid is usually seen in Doberman pinschers and Collies. The scaly skin lesions are all over the body, but may occur most commonly in the groin. Most dogs go into remission with treatment, but some require high-dose, constant therapy to control the disease. The prognosis is poor in the long-term.
Autoimmune diseases can also cause nasal dermatoses. The lesions are on the dog’s bridge. One example of an autoimmune is systemic lupus which affects the whole muzzle of the dog, leaving it crusted, oozing, discolored or ulcerated. Occasionally nasal dermatoses are due to solar radiation, leaving the bridge inflamed. Skin scraping, cultures and biopsies of the skin may all be preformed to diagnosis the disease and any other underlying diseases.
Basal Cell Tumors and Carcinomas
Basal cell tumors are skin neoplasms seen in dogs. They have been further examined and characterized as trichoblastoma. Trichoblasstomas are tumors in the hair follicle. This change in classification leads to basal cell tumors being in cats not dogs. Unfortunately vets are accepting this slowly and therefore the old terminology is still used. A benign lesion is called a basal cell tumor and a malignant lesion is a basal cell carcinoma. Most lesions in dogs are benign. Many breeds and older dogs are usually affected. The most commonly affected breeds are Wheaten terriers, Wirehaired pointing griffons and Kerry blue terriers. The most common locations for the tumors are head, ears and neck. The symptoms usually include firm, bald nodules, dark in color with ulcers. They look similar to dermal melanocytomas. Although benign, the tumor causes ulcers and inflammation, therefore surgery is usually the most common cure.
Basal cell carcinomas are not that common. The lesion is plaque with ulcers. In dogs, these carcinomas are also called basosquamous cell carcinomas. Usually seen in older dogs, some of the commonly affected breeds are Saint Bernard, Scottish terriers and Norwegian elkhounds. They are commonly found anywhere on the body, but not usually the head. There are usually many lesions that are invasive to the surrounding tissue, however, it does not usually metastasize, therefore surgery is the usual treatment.
Another skin condition seen in younger dogs is Epidermal hamartomas, which is believed to be genetic in cocker spaniels. The symptoms include dark, thick bumps and plaques usually in a line. Although they are benign they are unattractive and usually have secondary infection. Surgery is a common treatment, however, for a safer, non-invasive treatment, use our Medicated Pet Wash and Healing & Protection Spray to keep your pet safe.
The cause of walking dandruff or cheyletiella mange is the Cheyletiella yasguri mite. This mite is a parasite that lives on dogs. The name walking dandruff is from the white colored mite walking around on the dogs’ skin. Walking dandruff is usually seen on young dogs with poor immune systems. The puppies get the mite from the mother within the first week after birth. Since the mite can not live off the dog, mother and puppy must touch. The mite lives on adult dogs and humans without causing a problem. Some older dogs with poor immune systems can also become infected. Walking dandruff is highly contagious among dogs but is short lived.
Knowing the mite’s life cycle is important in prevention and treatment. Demodex canis life cycle is unknown but believed to be the same as other mites. The eggs are laid on the dog near the hair shaft and later hatch into larvae. The larvae molt into nymphs and then become adults. The life cycle is believed to be 35 days.
Some symptoms of walking dandruff include itching, dandruff, crusting, red, inflamed and swollen skin. Symptoms are usually found on the back of the neck and down the middle of the back to the tail. The diagnosis is made from seeing the mite or looking at skin scrapings. Visit our Pet Mange Treatment page for information on topical, non-toxic, non-surgical treatments. Since Cheyletiella mange is so contagious all animals in a household with an infected dog should be treated. All bedding that contacts the dog should be treated as well. Prevention includes good nutrition, control of all parasites and keeping up vaccines to keep the immune system strong.
A common skin parasite in central U.S. is the chigger or Trombicula mites or harvest mites. Chiggers cause severe itching and can infect and bite dogs, cats, and humans. Prevention is difficult but treatment is easy.
Knowing where chiggers are found can help in avoiding them. They are found in grassy areas in the spring and fall. Chiggers usually stay in the same location year after year. Avoiding known chigger locations can be helpful in prevention. They are small and reddish orange about the size of a pin head.
The eggs are laid in soil around grass, in the summer. The larvae hatch and crawl on your dog or cat. They attach and feed not only on blood but other fluids in the skin, for several days. Then they leave the animal. They molt into nymphs and then mature to adults. This all takes about 50-55 days. Generally in the north, chiggers have one to two generations in a year. But in the south, they are year round.
The common locations of chiggers on dogs are legs, head and abdomen. Some animals will show symptoms while others may be symptom-free. If you know what chiggers look like, diagnosis can be fairly easy, since most chiggers can be seen with the naked eye.
Common treatments include topical applications. Humans do not usually get chiggers from their dogs but rather the dog and human walk through the chiggers together and both get infected.
Cracked Foot Pads
There are many reasons for cracked foot pads. Several causes are known and others are unknown. A dog that chews its paws may have contact dermatitis from walking through irritants. Some common irritants are carpet and floor cleaners or lawn treatments. The dermatitis results in sore, inflamed paws that the dog chews, which worsens the symptoms and causes a cracked pad. Some other causes are allergens in the pets’ environment, yeast infection, deficient level of zinc, or autoimmune disease.
To diagnose a yeast infection a skin smear from the paw can be examined and topical medication, such as Sulfinex Cream, can be used. Zinc deficiency may result if the dog eats a lot of cereal or calcium. It usually affects certain breeds such as Dobermans, beagles, husky, malamute, Great Danes, shepherds, poodles and German short haired pointers.
Cracked pads can result from nasodigital hyperkeratosis. This is when excess keratin is produced causing excessive growth of the tough cover of the pad.
The rabbit or rodent botfly is an opportunistic parasite that infects dogs. The adult is a non-biting fly that resembles a large bee. The female lays eggs in areas known to attract a host, about ten eggs per site and about two thousand eggs in a lifetime. When dogs go through an area with eggs, such as tall grass, the eggs respond to the heat and hatch. The larvae will enter the mouth or an open wound and migrate to the skin. The larvae continue to develop using a breathing pore for air. The larvae leave the host through the skin after about thirty days and pupate after landing on the ground. The pupation time varies then the adult immerges.
The larvae enlarge in the skin causing a lesion with swelling and possible oozing. The lesions, usually covered by matted hair, are commonly found on the head, neck and trunk. Some dogs exhibit pain and some do not. The ones with pain usually have a secondary infection. A diagnosis is usually made by identifying the larvae on the dog.
Many people think of dandruff as just dry, flaking skin, which is partly true. Dandruff (especially excessive) is the result of irritating metabolic wastes and toxins that are eliminated through the skin. The toxins accumulate in sebum (skin oil) and dandruff. Dandruff is dead skin cells that are being replaced by new cells. Sebum is the oily excretions that contain metabolic waste. Other common causes of dandruff in your pets include frequent bathing and indoor heat which remove moisture from the air.
Ear Mites are tiny and infectious parasitic insects, resembling ticks. The naked eye may be able to see a small white dot but a microscope can easily see the mite in a sample of ear wax. The infection usually causes dry black discharge from the ear. Common signs of an infection are shaking of the head and ears, and the infested animal may scratch at the ears due to the intense itching.
The mite lives on the skin of the ear canal but can live on the face and head of your pet. The eggs hatch four days after they are laid, with the larva emerging to feed on the ear wax and skin oil. After a week, the larva molts to a protonymph, which then molts into a deutonymph. The non-gendered deutonymph mates with the adult male, then molts into an adult female or male. Newly-molted females will be full of eggs from the mating, with newly-molted males ready to mate. The adults can live for two months. While ear mites are common in many types of animals, dogs rarely get them, while cats are some of the most-commonly infested of pets.
Ear mites are transmitted by physical contact and therefore treatment should be done on all pets in a household with an infected animal. The infestation causes inflammation and can lead to very irritating ear infections. The infection can also lead to skin diseases. Ear mites are rarely contagious to humans, usually just cats and dogs. Treatment of the mites should include the ears and the whole body. Visit our Ear Mites Treatment page for a natural, non-toxic solution for pet ear mites.
Ectoparasites (External Parasites)
Ectoparasites, or external parasites, are the most common skin condition for pets, and live on or burrow into their hosts’ skin. Common ectoparasites are fleas, ticks, and mites. Fleas are small, wingless, brown or black, and fast-moving. These blood-sucking insects are very pesky; not only will they infest your pets; they may take over your home. Ticks are another blood-sucking parasite that will infest most animals and sometimes people. Tick bites may become infected, while other ticks produce a toxin that may cause paralysis and even death. Ticks may also spread several serious diseases to animals and people; such as Lyme disease. One other critter to watch for is mites. If you notice your pets scratching at his ears intensely or excessive shaking of the head, he may have ear mites. You will find brown or black debris on the outer ear of your pet. Another type of mite is the scabies mite: better known as mange. Mange is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feeds on the pet’s skin and release a secretion that causes severe itching and hair loss.
Eczema is a general term to describe inflamed skin disorders is pets. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Eczema symptoms include red itchy scalp, dry skin with scaly skin rashes, and/or small bumps or sores that become moist and oozing. Eczema is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system and is not contagious. Pets that have eczema also become more prone to yeast infections.
Eczema tends to be hard to treat, recurring and persistent. Some pets may only be affected seasonally while some will battle it year round. One of the major causes of this condition is dietary imbalance, not enough or too much of these nutrients. Some pets cannot tolerate the ingredients in commercial dog foods. They lack enough fats or oils which causes the hair of some dogs to become dry and dull-looking and then start to shed. Adding these fats and oils to their diet will help to relieve these symptoms and may correct the eczema-dermatitis condition.
There are many different irritants that may cause eczema. Industrial chemicals, detergents, fumes, paints, bleach, acidic foods, alcohol-containing skin care products, and grooming fragrances are just a few. These irritants can cause your pet to be extremely uncomfortable and itchy, which will then cause eczema.
Allergies are also a major cause of eczema in your pet. Common allergens for pets are animal or vegetable proteins from commercial dog foods, pollen, dust, dust mites, and grass. All of these allergens cannot be avoided; therefore, pets with these allergies tend to suffer from eczema year round.
Fleas are insects, with over two thousand species, that do not interbreed. Fleas directly effect animals and humans and transmit diseases. The human flea, or Pulex irritans, prefers humans or pigs but will feed on dogs and cats. The dog flea, or Ctenocephalides canis, prefers dogs, cats, humans and other animals. The most common flea is the cat flea, or Ctenocephalides felis, despite its name, prefers dogs but will feed on cats.
Fleas may be small 2-8 mm but they still have three sections, the head, thorax and abdomen. They have six legs attached to the thorax, with the last pair of legs enlarged to give them fantastic jumping ability. They are wingless, brown in color, and a laterally flattened in the body. They detect possible meals with their eyes and antennae, which sense heat, vibration, shadows, carbon dioxide, and air currents. Their meals consist of animal blood but they can go for several months without a meal.
There are four stages of development, the egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. Within two days after mating, the female lays eggs and large amounts of feces. While fleas feed and generally breed on the skin of the host, the eggs tend to fall off and hatch in the host’s environment. The female can lay 30-50 eggs per day, and up to 400-1000 eggs any where from a few months to two years before dying. The eggs hatch in two days. The larva is a small maggot that feed on the female’s feces. After a week the larva spins a sticky cocoon or pupa, and after a week the adult emerges when it senses a host is near. The life of a flea is usually 15 days, but the adult can wait in the pupa for a host extending the life up to 1 year.
There are many different types of fungal infections in pets. The most common are blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, coccidioidiomycosis, and aspergillosis. These fungal infections are very serious and need to be treated aggressively. If not treated correctly these infections may lead to death.
Blastomycosis is a non-contagious fungal infection that affects primarily young male dogs with access to the outdoors. This fungus invades the dog’s body and is thought to be found in the soil, especially in the Great Lakes area, and the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri River valleys. The spores from the fungus are inhaled into the dog’s lungs and may cause symptoms like fever, loss of weight, coughing, respiratory distress, skin lesions and draining open sores. The eyes, male genitals, and bones may also be affected.
Histoplasmosis is another form of fungal infection. The spores are found in the same areas listed above and are also inhaled into the dog’s lungs. Histoplasma likes to grow in areas with a high concentration of bird or bat droppings. This infection takes at least two months of treatment and usually more than that to be certain that the pet is cured.
Coccidioidiomycosis is also an inhaled fungal infection that follows the same symptoms listed above. This infection may affect the central nervous system and may lead to personality changes in your pet. This fungal infection also takes long-term therapy and some pets may require life long therapy. Most pets can be cured or at the very least symptoms can be controlled.
Aspergillosis is extremely rare and is most common in German Shepherds, with German Shepherds accounting for 90% of the cases with this disease, due to some sort of immune system problem. The only way to be certain that your pet is affected is to do a biopsy of the affected nasal passages.
Ringworm is a topical fungal infection that affects almost all animals. It is highly contagious and is spread easily from animal to animal and to people. Besides treating the affected skin areas, you must do a thorough cleaning of the environment to stop the spread of the fungal spores. Visit our Pet Ringworm Treatment page for a natural, non-toxic solution for ringworm sores on dogs, cats, and other animals.
Hair loss is one of the most common problems that occur in pets. There are a large number of reasons for hair loss. You have to ask yourself a few simple questions. Is this a young or old pet? What breed is it? How long has it been present and has this happened before? Is it in one area or various areas?
Flea-associated dermatitis hair-loss is a common problem in all Southern states. Fleas prefer the area just anterior to the base of the tail. A brittle, broken hair coat in this area with a musty odor or the presence of pepper-like granules that stain a wet paper towel are signs of fleas. Eventually, bacteria and yeast become involved.
Pyotraumatic Dermatitis or hot spots is a problem in long-coated thick-haired breeds of dogs with oily coats. Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Samoyed Chows, Akitas, and Pyrenees are some breeds that have this problem the most. It is rare in cats, but when it does occur it is associated with stress. Intense itching occurs and the area becomes inflamed, raw, and wet with serum in just hours. If the dog is muzzled or restrained during this period, the problem passes in 24-72 hours.
Demodectic and Sarcoptic mange are another cause of hair loss. Demodectic mange is generally a disease in young dogs. A mite lives in hair and oil glands of the skin and begins to multiply out of control. This is a genetic disease. It causes no itching but the areas involved are subject to a secondary bacterial infection. Small lesions may disappear without treatment. Sarcoptic mange is due to a parasite that burrows through the layers of the skin causing intense itching. It can be passed from pet to pet through contact and can also cause irritation to humans.
Hookworms are parasites that have mouth parts that look like a hook, hence the name. Hookworms can infect dogs through the skin. After they get inside the dog they use the hook to attach to the intestinal wall. They are small but can consume large amounts of blood from the intestines vessels. If the infestation is large enough a dog can become anemic. Hookworms usually affect puppies but can affect any age dog. Most dogs have a few hookworms but infected dogs have a large number.
Dogs can also get infected orally, from the placenta before birth and through the mother’s milk. The larvae can enter through the skin and migrate to the intestine. If the dog swallows a hookworm larvae it is likely to become infected. Larvae in a pregnant female will enter her blood stream to pass the placenta entering the puppies’ blood. If the mother is infected the worms can pass through the milk and enter the intestine.
With a large number of hookworms the dog may not grow properly or have significant weight loss or bloody diarrhea. The hookworms may suck so much blood that the dog becomes anemic. Signs of anemia include pale gums, diarrhea and weakness. The larvae that burrow in the skin can cause significant pain, itching and skin irritation.
A stool sample is examined under a microscope looking for eggs to determine if there is a hookworm infestation. Although adult hookworms do not infect humans, the larvae can burrow into human skin. This will cause skin irritation and itching but they can not mature in humans. Human skin burrowing can only happen if humans touch infected stool.
Hot Spots or Sore Acute Moist Dermatitis
Hot spot are usually not a serious or permanent disease. Hot spot are very common with long, thickened undercoats. It’s often caused by a local allergic reaction to a specific antigen such as insect bites; fleas are probably the most common cause. Hot spot symptoms start off as circular lesions, usually found on the head over the hip and along the side of the chest. The lesions appear to be raw, inflamed and hair-less, and can be very painful to you pet. Animals with hot spots will usually lick, scratch or bite the wound which can cause more irritation to the skin; sometimes referred to pyothraumatic dermatitis because of the self-traumatization. Hot spots can occur on both inside and outside pets equally. Some dogs will develop several of these lesions throughout their lives. Dogs that have Demodectic Mange are susceptible to hot spot outbreaks thorough their life span. Conscientious pet owners, who notice developing hot spots quickly, can keep them under control and stop them from spreading.
Below are some of the most common cause of Hot Spots:
- Allergies: inhalant or food allergies
- Mites: like sarcoptic mange or Cheyletiella
- Ear infections
- Poor grooming
- Arthritis and other degenerative joint disease
- Anal gland disease
You can prevent hot spots by keeping the hair clipped short during summer, bath frequently with Medicated Pet Wash and use a strict flea control program. If hot spots occur around the ears, cleaning the ears regularly can be helpful.
Interdigital furuncles are not cysts, they are painful nodular lesions found on inflamed paws. There are breeds that are more likely to have interdigital furunculosis such as Labrador retriever, English bulldog and Shar-Pei. These breeds have prominent interdigital webbing, short hair in the webbing, or both. The short hair is pushed back into the skin when the dog walks. This pushing back of the hair causes skin inflammation and can lead to secondary infections. This secondary infection can cause interdigital furunculosis. Some other causes are Demodicosis and Canine atopy.
Initially the paw may be inflamed with bumps, and without treatment, nodules can form. The nodules appear reddish-purple and shiny. If touched the nodules can open and ooze bloody pus. The pain usually causes the dog enough pain that it will not use the affected foot, and will typically lick and bite the lesions. If bacteria are the cause of the lesions, then new ones will develop as the old ones treat.
A diagnosis can usually be made from simple examination of the foot. Sometimes to be sure the problem is not traumatic lesions or neoplasia a skin scraping, impression smears or fine needle aspirate is preformed. If a foreign body is lodged in the paw surgical removal may be necessary.
Typical treatment is topical cream, foot soaks and antibiotics. If the lesions come back even with therapy there is an underlying condition. If the dog is keep on wire or concrete most of the time and the lesions continue to reoccur the dog may need to be moved. Surgery is sometimes preformed to correct the webbing.
Juvenile cellulites or juvenile pyoderma or puppy strangles have sudden on set of symptoms. Common symptoms include painful swelling of the face and neck with hair loss. It affects four week to four month old puppies of all breeds and both genders. It can affect all or one or some of the puppies in a litter. The cause is unknown but believed to be a developmentally delayed immune system. Some believe the delay is in the T-cells and some believe it is in the lymphocyte blastogenesis. The puppies usually have an infection at the same time they are dealing with puppy strangles. Unfortunately puppy strangles does not respond to antibiotics alone.
One of the symptoms can be pustules. It is important to remember anytime a dog has a pustule with any disease, do not pop it. Ulcers and drainage may occur in place of the small bumps on the face and in the lymph nodes. Sometimes the small bumps will not drain and remain hard.
Most cases clear with treatment in two to three weeks, however, some extreme cases can last for months.
Leishmaniasis starts when a animal is bitten by a sand fly that has a blood meal, and leaves the parasite. The parasite (Leishmania) enters through the skin as a promastigote, that is a single cell with a flagellum, which gives mobility. The parasite is taken up by the macrophages (immune system cells) in an attempt to protect the body. The parasite can survive in the macrophages and change into an amastigote, which does not have mobility. The amastigote undergoes binary fission (splits from one to two amastigotes) within the macrophage. This continues until the macrophage reaches capacity and breaks open. Then the many amastigotes infect the other nearby cells. The amastigotes in the blood stream can be taken by the sand fly during a blood meal or infect organs causing disease. The amastigotes taken by the fly travel to the fly’s gut and change back to promastigotes which then undergoing binary fission (splits from one to two promastigotes). Once mobility is restored by becoming a promastigote the parasite travels to the hypostome ready to infect an animals with the next blood meal.
This is a slow disease that progresses for several years. Dogs show symptoms of listlessness, swollen joints and fatigue. The skin lesions start on the head or feet and spread over the body. A skin scraping under a microscope will help to identify the amastigotes. There is no treatment that completely removes the parasite from the dog. A dog under treatment will usually have the infection reappear.
The most common benign tumor is Fatty tumor or lipomas in dogs, which are very common in older or overweight dogs. Although they are called fatty tumors, they are generally referred to as growths or fat deposits in the skin. A fatty tumor is firm and moveable, with no pain, infection or hair loss in the area of affected skin.
Most people remove their pet’s fatty tumors removed for cosmetic reasons. However, most professionals discourage this because of the risk of anesthesia. It is only strongly advised to have it removed if the growth is preventing a pet from being able to walk.
Common skin tumors in dogs are canine extramedullary plasmacytomas. They originate in the lymph system. The common locations on the dog for the tumors are head, ears, lips and legs. The breeds most affected are cocker spaniels, Airedales, Scottish terriers, and standard poodles. Treatment of the small tumors is typically surgical removal. If surgery is not possible radiation is usually preformed unless the tumor is resistant to radiation and then chemotherapy would be the treatment of choice.
Cutaneous lymphosarcoma may start with the skin and only involve the skin or it may start with an internal disease and lead to the skin being involved. The most common form is epitheliotropic cutaneous lymphosarcoma. This is usually seen in older poodles and cocker spaniels. The lesions on a dog may appear as a patch or plaque or tumor or all three. Epitheliotripic cutaneous lymphosarcoma is usually a slowly progressing disease and treatment improves the appearance of the lesions but does not lengthen the life of the dog. Older dogs commonly get nonepitheliotropic cutaneous lymphosarcoma. The lesions are multiple nodules or plaques on the trunk of the dog. The lesions can appear to be epitheliotripic cutaneous lymphosarcoma tumors. The difference is that nonepitheliotropic cutaneous lymphosarcoma is more aggressive to the skin and the whole body. Therefore early correct diagnosis is important. Chemotherapy and radiation are usually chosen over surgery because the disease is typically wide spread over and in the body. Remission typically lasts about eight months.
Lymphoma in dogs
Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma or lymphatic cancer is the most common malignant tumor in dogs after skin cancer. All the lymph glands will swell without pain in a dog that has lymphoma. The tumors grow rapidly and eventually push on organs and healthy tissue causing pain. All ages of dogs are affected by lymphoma.
Surgical biopsy is the common way to diagnosis. The biopsy will help the vet be sure it is lymphoma and not another type of cancer, infection or nonmalignant disease. The next step is to determine the stage of the cancer. The staging will allow the vet to know how much the cancer has spread throughout the body. The different stages receive different treatments. The usually tests that determine the stage are x-rays, blood work, and bone marrow aspirate.
The lymphoma treatment is of the whole body because lymphoma is systemic. The most common treatment is chemotherapy but sometimes radiation is preformed as well. Chemotherapy is not the same for dogs as it is for humans. A lot of the side effects that humans have, dogs do not get. This makes dogs’ quality of life significantly higher during treatment than humans.
Long term the survival rate is low. If a dog does not receive treatment, death may come in only a few weeks. Verses a treated dog that goes into remission that may live many months to years longer. Remission occurs in about 85% of treated dogs.
Demodectic mange also called demodicosis is an inflammation of the skin caused by mites. This is usually seen in young dogs. The cause is Demodex Canis which is a microscopic mite. Demodex Canis lives under the skin, near hair follicles. In order to test for the mite a deep skin scraping of an area of hair-loss is preformed and examined under a microscope.
There are two forms of demodectic mange, localized and generalized. The localized form is the most common, with common symptoms of small patches of hair loss usually seen around the face, head and forelegs. The age of the dog is usually four to twelve months. Most cases can be cleared in four to eight weeks with treatment. A small number of dogs progress to the second form of demodectic mange, which is generalized. In this form large areas of the skin have hair loss with redness, inflammation and seborrhea. Other symptoms can include grey, thickened skin that bleeds easily, has lost elasticity and sags into folds. Secondary skin bacterial infections are common.
The exact cause is not known. Studies show that Demodex Canis mite is found on all dogs. However healthy dogs have a limited number that feed on their hair follicles. It is believed that a puppy is exposed to the mite in the first few days of life from the mother. Neither of which have any symptoms. For demodicosis to appear the puppy has to inherit a deficiency in its immune system that does not prevent the mite from excessive proliferation.
Sarcoptic mange, also called canine scabies is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The mite is microscopic and invades the skin of dogs. This invasion leads to symptoms such as hair loss and itching, and can infect other animals and humans but prefer dogs. This mite can infect all ages and breeds.
The female mite burrows in the skin, and lays the eggs at several depths during burrowing, then dies after laying her eggs. The six-legged larvae emerge out of the eggs in three to eight days. The larvae then mature to an eight-legged nymph, which molts into an adult deep within the dog’s skin. The adults mate and start the process again. The life cycle lasts about two to three weeks. The mite can live off the dog for two to six days at room temperature or 22 days in cool moist areas. This allows other animals, dogs or humans to be infected.
The symptoms vary from dog to dog. Common symptoms include hair loss and severe itching. Common locations include elbows, armpits, ears, chest and abdomen because there is less hair, however, the infection can spread over the whole body. The symptoms can worsen to small red pustules and yellow crusting of the skin. The itching will inevitably lead to scratching which causes skin trauma, darkening of the skin and secondary infections, and may cause the lymph nodes to swell. The itching is believed to be an allergic reaction to the mite, however, allergy treatments will not cure mange. The most effective treatment is a non-toxic, topical treatment such as the Mange & Mite Kennel Combo.
Mast Cell Tumor
A mast cell controls the body’s allergic reactions. The mast cells are in the skin along with the hair follicles, nerve endings, and sweat glands. The histamines are released by the mast cells when the skin has contact with an allergen.
When the mast cells begin to grow out of control a tumor is the result. About 25% of all skin tumors in dogs are mast cell tumors. Only about half of the tumors are malignant. They can feel soft or solid. They are a raised mass. Sometimes the mast cell tumors can not be distinguished from fatty cysts. Fifty percent of the tumors are found on the body. Forty percent are on the legs. Only ten percent are on the head or neck. Most of the tumors are found in the skin. However, they can be found anywhere in the body including liver, spleen and marrow. The most common breeds at risk of developing a tumor are Boxers, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and Bull Terriers. Although it is most common to find tumors in middle age or older dogs, they can be found in dogs of any age. Both males and females are equally at risk. Genetics is believed to be a cause. Some risk factors include previous injury such as a burn or viral infection.
Miscellaneous Systemic Dermatosis
There are several systemic disorders that can cause skin lesions. The lesions usually have hair loss without inflammation. Some systemic diseases cause the skin to change a certain way, that points only to that underlying disease. However many times it is not obvious what the underlying disease is.
Some dermatosis are the result of poor nutrition, however, with today’s dog food this is uncommon. Some cases have been seen as the result of zinc deficiency usually in Siberian huskies.
Dermatitis has been linked to internal organ disorders such as kidney, liver and pancreas. The lesions associated with liver disorder are usually crusted and oozing with hair loss on the face and genitals along with ulcers on the footpads.
Various skin conditions are caused by poison such as rat poison, mercury, and iodide. Several endocrine dysfunctions can cause dermatosis. For example a female with hormone imbalance is usually itchy with breast enlargement. Neutering rarely causes dermatosis, this usually does not itch and may only have minor hair loss on the perineal area.
Skin lesions are associated with hypothyroidism. The lesions appear dry, scaly, thickened and folded with hair loss and possible pyoderma and seborrhea. Hypopituitarism rarely causes hair loss on the abdomen and thorax. Skin changes including darker skin with hair loss, seborrhea, and secondary pyoderma have been noted with hyperadrenocorticism. Some dogs become itchy and have secondary skin infections with diabetes mellitus.
Treatment for all requires the determination of the underlying condition. Once the underlying condition is known and treated the scratching usually stops and the skin can treat.
Mosquitoes are tiny, fragile insects that feed on blood and are found in almost every climate. There are over 300 species with about half being found in North America. Mosquitoes can breed in any size pool of standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs on the standing water or can use damp soil. The eggs hatch after a large amount of water overwhelms the standing water. The larvae are wrigglers and the pupas are tumblers. Both are found in water in almost any habitat.
The females are the blood suckers, while the males live on plant juice and nectar. Mosquitoes transmit disease, disturb livestock and cause blood loss. Systemic effects have been known to occur from the toxins the mosquito injects with its meal. Dogs can become anemic from swarms of feeding mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can transmit canine heart worm and West Nile virus.
Adult mosquitoes are not usually found on animals, they generally feed and then leave the animal. Adult mosquitoes are slender with small round head and long legs. They have wing veins, a body, head and legs that are all covered in tiny scales. The long antennae are segmented about 15 times. To suck up blood they have proboscides.
To control mosquitoes, many people need to be involved, including experienced people with the right equipment. Reducing standing water can cut down on the breeding and spraying insecticides to eliminate the adults or using citronella-based products to repell them. Pets should be kept inside during the spraying. Try to avoid walking your pet in the morning or evening when the mosquitoes are greatest in number. For a non-toxic, topical treatment for insect and mosquito bites on animals, use the Pets’BestRx Healing Gel to quickly soothe the itching and help prevent infection.
Pelodera Dermatitis, Rhabditic dermatitis, or damp hay itch results from Pelodera (Rhabditis) strongyloides. This is a free-living larvae from a worm that is rarely defined as a parasite. The larvae are attracted to damp, dirty bedding, usually hay. The larvae prefer decaying matter and are believed not to be able to affect healthy skin. A preexisting condition of the skin, along with exposure to mud or damp bedding can result in an infestation. However, dogs are not the only possible host, humans, cows, horses, sheep, and pigs have all been known to have Pelodera dermatitis.
The area of the body that comes in contact with the parasite may have pustules, bumps, ulcers, inflamed, red, raw or crusty skin. The common locations of the body affected are feet, legs, chest, abdomen and perineum. Symptoms may be very itchy or not itch at all. With the itch comes scratching and secondary infection is common. Examination of a skin scraping sample near a hair follicle from the affected area is necessary for diagnosis. If the dog is infected, the parasite will be seen in the scraping.
In order to prevent an infestation, remove all damp dirty bedding and move your animal to a dry clean place. If the animal lives outside and sleeps on hay, change to cloth or paper shreds. Using the antimicrobial Pets’BestRx Medicated Pet Wash will help to remove any irritants from the animals skin, and our Healing & Protection Spray can help to repair the animals skin while soothing the itch.
Pemphigus is when the body produces antibodies that fight the dogs own skin. The most common pemphigus in dogs is Pemphigus foliaceus. This is common in some breeds such as Akitas, dachshund, chow chows, bearded collies, Doberman pinscher, Finnish spitz, schipperke and Newfoundland dogs. This can be found anywhere on the body. The second most common pemphigus is pemphigus erythematosus. Pemphigus Erythematosus is believed to be a milder form of pemphigus foliaceus. This is usually seen in breeds such as collies, German shepherds and Shetland sheepdogs. The symptoms are usually observed on the head and feet. Some common symptoms include scabs, scales or pus filled sores on the skin. The sores can be seen on the skin but rupture quickly and may not be seen again. Secondary infection of the sores is not common. Some other pemphiguses in dogs are pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus vegetans.
Pemphigus vulgaris is the most severe form of the disease. This form has severe ulcers on the skin. The ulcers are usually seen on the mouth, nose, anus and vagina. Secondary infection is common in this form and cause severe complications. The last form pemphigus vegetans is less severe and looks like warts on the skin that may form ulcers.
Skin biopsy is required to diagnosis this disease because there are several diseases that look the same. Some similar looking diseases are drug eruptions, systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus and skin cancer.
Treatment of pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus is often life long and may include prednisone along with immune suppressive medications. On the other hand pemphigus vegetans and pemphigus erythematosus is easier to treat and usually includes topical treatment or prednisone. Close monitoring by a vet is usually necessary.
Pyoderma is caused by inflammation or infection of the skin. Pyoderma is common in dogs. Pyoderma caused by bacteria can be limited to the surface of the skin including the hair follicle which is considered superficial. On the other hand deep pyoderma is deep in the skin and can cause furunculosis. Bacterial pyoderma can be caused by several bacteria such as staphylococci or streptococci. Most skin infections are secondary infections to other issues such as allergies, endocrine diseases, sebaceous gland diseases, parasites, or skin folds. Complete recovery usually occurs in otherwise healthy dogs with cases of primary pyoderma.
Naturally occurring bacteria on the skin can overgrow and cause pyoderma. In order for the bacteria to overgrow, it needs to be able to stick to the skin. This is easier in the folds of the skin such as near the lips and in the webbing of the paw. It is also believed that irritation on the pressure points such as the elbows causes pyoderma. If the dog has any skin disease allowing the skin to be moist instead of naturally dry the result can be pyoderma.
The most common symptom is scaly skin. Some dogs itch and others don’t. Superficial pyoderma can cause hair loss, pustules and crusting. The usual locations on the body are the head, trunk and legs. A dog in significant pain with crusty, bloody pus-coated skin, and odor has deep pyoderma. Some other symptoms may be swelling, inflammation, ulcers, and hair loss. The most common treatment is antibiotics.
Dermatophytosis or ringworm is a skin condition that can be found on dogs. The cause is not a worm but rather a fungus. Although the lesion can be in a ring shape it is not always. It is difficult to determine which pets will develop a lesion from the fungus, which is found on most pets’ coats. It is believed that the pets that do not develop a lesion may be carriers of the disease to humans and other pets. The pets that do develop a lesion are usually young and have a compromised immune system. Just as a pet with symptoms may not transmit the fungus to a human, a pet without symptoms may transmit the fungus to a human.
There are three fungi that cause the lesion. Microsporum canis (dogs usually get from cats), Microsporum gypseum (dogs usually get from digging in contaminated dirt), and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (dogs get from rodents or their burrows).
The lesions vary from dog to dog and may not be in a ring. The first sign is usually a small patch of hair loss. With time the patch symptom may disappear or spread to other locations. Sometimes the lesion itches causing the dog to scratch. Hair loss may be from scratching if it is on the feet or face.
Diagnosis can not be made from appearance alone due to the fact that ringworm can have the same appearance as mange and dermatitis. There are several tests that can be run to determine if a lesion is ringworm. One test uses a black light or ultraviolet lamp. Although a negative ultraviolet lamp test does not rule out ringworm. A more accurate test is to culture hair from the lesion.
Visit our Pets’BestRx Pet Ringworm page for more information on this pet skin ailment and to learn more about recommended treatments, such as the Pet Ringworm Combo for Dogs, which includes Healing Gel and Sulfinex Cream.
The sand fly, moth fly, or owl midge is found mostly in the tropics. This tiny moth-like insects has legs that are as long as its antennae and a body covered in fine hair. The females feed on blood meals including dogs and humans, while the males only suck water, such as sweat from humans or animals. They are nocturnal insects, which mean they are active at night and hide during the day. They breed in dark moist places, usually in or near organic matter, which the larvae use as a food source. The flies are host for a protozoan parasite, called Leishmania, that infects animals. They are rarely found on the skin of animals, because like most insects they feed and leave the animal. Methods simliar to mosquito control can be used in order to prevent and control the population, in you and your pet’s environment.
The parasite Leishmania causes Leishmaniasis in dogs. It is can be found worldwide, including America. Leishmaniasis can affect any breed but is mostly seen in Foxhounds. Leishmaniasis has different forms including cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral which are all carried by different species of sand flies. Dogs usually get visceral and cutaneous canine Leishmaniasis from the sand fly, called Lutzomyia infantum.
Leishmaniasis causes fatigue and listlessness in dogs. Some other symptoms are anorexia, renal failure and lesions on the skin. The lesions usually start on the head or feet and spread to the rest of the body. Diagnosis of the disease can be done by looking in a microscope for the parasite in a skin sample. Using the Pets’BestRx Healing & Protection Spray can be used in order to prevent any bacterial infections that may result from any open wounds on the dog’s skin.
The seborrhea is very similar to human seborrhea; it happens when the oil-producing glands, called sebum are more overactive than usual. Symptoms of pets with this condition include greasy, yellowish-brown scales on the elbows, hocks, ankles and around the border of their ears, and in some cases, a vey bad odor. Seborrhea can occur as a primary seborrhea disease or if it is the result of an underlying condition, it is usually referred to as secondary seborrhea disease. The difference is that when the underlying problem is cleared up in cases of secondary seborrhea, this will also clear up the secondary seborrhea. The opposite goes for the primary seborrhea disease which will only be controlled, as it cannot be cured.
Since the odor related to seborrhea disease, the use of an anti-bacteria pet shampoo, such as our Medicated Pet Wash, on a regular basis can help to prevent pet odors, as well as remove any accumulated sebum, and prevent skin irritation. Your pet should be confined until the condition improved. For some cases, spay or neuter sterilization will help to decrease the production of sebum.
Generally, a healthy skin and coat won’t have any smell to it. An unhealthy skin and coat will have a rancid, oily odor. The odor is caused by superficial skin bacteria and their waste products breaking down the oils on the skin.
The most important determining factor in the healthy skin/coat equation is proper nutrition. No matter what else may be affecting the skin, such as allergies, infections, harsh environment, or parasites, the problem will be worse in a dog that is only barely meeting its nutrient requirements. Dogs and cats are primarily meat eaters. They will act, feel and look their best if the first ingredient on the label is meat, poultry, or fish. Diets based on grains such as corn will not properly nourish dogs and cats.
There are other reasons why a dog might be giving an unpleasant odor. It can indicate certain health conditions such as a staph infection or other bacterial infections.
If it has been a while since your pet had a bath, that might help. Using our Medicated Pet Wash can help to eliminate any odor-causing bacteria on their skin, keep their coat looking clean and fresh, treat and protect their skin from minor cuts and abrasions, as well as condition their skin.
Also, look in your dog’s mouth. Teething puppies often have bad breath, but that is normal and passes when teething is completed. Discolored teeth, red and swollen gums and an odor that goes beyond the usual bad breath can be signs of gingivitis.
Ear infections can be the cause of an offensive odor. The inside of the ear becomes moist and hot, providing the perfect environment for infections. Take a look inside your pet’s ears for red and irritated skin. Also, if you notice a black coffee ground discharge from your pet’s ear, this is indicative of an ear mite problem. Visit our Ear Mites page for more information and treatment options for this pet ailment.
If you feel a slight greasiness on your hands after you pet your dog, this may be an indication of seborrhea. Some animals have an excessive production of sebum, a normal product of the skin glands. The symptoms are flaky dandruff or an oily, waxy feel to the hair coat and a strong odor.
Longhaired dogs or cats have a soiled rear from defecating, and without daily brushing, the rear can become matted and smelly. Infection or improper emptying of the anal glands can cause odor and discomfort. One sign of this is your pet scooting his or her rear end on rough surfaces to help relieve the itching.
Sunburn, or solar dermatitis, is overexposure of the skin to the sun. It usually occurs on areas of the body and ear flaps with no pigmentation. Mild sunburnt skin will be pink and scaly and may have some hair-loss, and severe cases may have crusting and eroded skin. The animal will be very irritated and may have bleeding. Worse case, the burn can progress to a malignant tumor called squamous cell carcinoma. Sunburns can aggravate pre-existing skin problems such as ulcers, infection and cancer.
Although dogs, like humans, need sunlight to balance their diet and metabolize calcium, the time should be limited. Minimizing an animal’s sun exposure or time outside can prevent sunburn. If this is not possible, provide shelter and shade for the animal especially during the hours of 10am to 3pm. Sun block can be toxic, and most dogs will clean the cream off to fast for it to work.
For mild cases of sunburns on pets, using our Healing Gel will not only help soothe the skin due to burns, but also repair any damage due to the sun’s rays.
Ticks are a common parasite found on the skin of dogs. Ticks are not insects, they are part of the arachnid family, like spiders, and are comprised of about 850 species. There are two families Argasidae and Ixodidae.
Hard shelled ticks, or Ixodids, have a hard outer covering called scutum. In the south, the Amblyomma americanum, or lone star tick, is found. The gulf coast tick is called Amblyomma maculatum. In the north and west the winter tick, or Dermacentor albipictus, resides. The most common is the dog tick, or Dermacentor variabilis. The brown dog tick, or Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is the biggest threat to kennels. The Lyme disease threat is from the deer tick or Ixodes scapularis.
The family of soft shell ticks, or Argasidae, does not have the scutum. The argasid’s head is on the top of its body. There are fewer ticks in this family. The most common is the Otobius megnini, or Spinose Ear tick, thrives in the southwest, and found most commonly on the ears of dogs.
Both families have the same diet of blood, which they can take from anywhere, such as humans, dogs, and cats. The tick sucks out the blood with the mouth parts imbedded in the skin. Most ticks feed on three different hosts over a period of two years to develop through their four stages: egg, larvae, nymph and adult.
There are several diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, such as Babesiosis, cytauxzoonosis, Ehrlichiosis, Haemobartonellosis, Hepatozoonosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and tularemia.
Yeasts are single cell organisms that are the spore-like form of fungi. They are naturally occurring on all living things, including your pets. When your pet’s body becomes compromised by bacteria, viruses, allergens and other toxins the yeast population grows out of control and the bodies natural immune system can no longer keep it balanced and under control. Large amounts of yeast cause a build up of toxins that will affect the immune system, endocrine system and nervous system of your pet. These toxins can lead to allergies, bladder and vaginal infections, skin disease and many other health problems. Ironically, yeast infections are one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in the veterinary field.
Yeast infections in pets are usually caused by the organisms Malasezzia pachydermatis or Candida Albicans. These naturally occurring organisms are usually not harmful to your pet, but, under the right conditions such as immune deficiencies, allergic reactions that cause oil build up, use of antibiotics or steroids, Diabetes mellitus and seborrhea, they can cause a host of problems for your pet. Yeast infections are not contagious to other pets, but they will continue to occur until the underlying condition is under control.
Malasezzia pachydermatis is a yeast infection that usually occurs in the ears and on the skin of our pet. Malasezzia is considered a secondary pathogen in the ears as it is usually brought on by an over abundance of ear mites or other underlying conditions. On the skin, it is considered to be a primary pathogen although it is also caused by an underlying condition.
Malazessia is characterized by relentless itching and skin lesions or sores and a thickening of the skin that sometimes looks like “elephant” skin. These lesions can be found in small areas of 2-3 sores in a localized area, or in severe cases the lesions occur over the entire pet. These lesions are usually very red, scaly and greasy. The lesions also have a yellowish tint to them as well as a very musty odor. The most common areas for a Malazessia break out are the belly, under the neck, the armpits, feet and between the toes.
Candida albicans is another type of yeast-like fungus that is present in all animals. Candida albicans is found in the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and helps to break down and consume fats and sugars. Candida is a very opportunistic organism and when the balance of yeast in the digestive tract is upset, it causes a condition known as Candidiasis. This particular fungus travels through the blood stream to all parts of the body and secretes enzymes which destroy membrane integrity, cause toxic deposits in body tissue and overload the liver.
The main causes of yeast infections in pets are from grain-based foods and drugs, chemicals and poisons. Many of them compromise your pet’s natural immune system and contribute to the growing number of yeast infections in pets.
Yeast infections are found most often in dogs, but cats can also have yeast infections. Some breeds of dogs have a natural predisposition to yeast infections. The breeds most affected are: Dachshund, West Highland White Terrier, Australian Terrier, Silky Terrier, Basset hound, Maltese, Cocker spaniel, Poodle, Lhasa Apso, Shetland sheepdog and Chihuahua.
Here are some of the most common signs to look for if you suspect that your pet may have a yeast infection:
- Ongoing ear mite problem
- white-coated tongue
- hives and other skin eruptions
- rectal itching, chronic infections
- Mucus in the stool
- Chronic ear infections
- Greasy Skin
- Cloudy eyes
- Foul odor from the body or ears
- Discharge from eyes, ears or nose
- Scratching or redness in the ears
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Food allergies and sensitivities
While the above symptoms are typical of yeast infections, they may also be related to other underlying health conditions such as anemia, cancer, diabetes or other diseases.
One thing that you can do to help prevent yeast infections, and to expedite the improvement of your pet’s health is to watch their diet. Foods that aggravate or increase the risk of yeast infections are: buttermilk, cheeses, crackers, peanuts, yeast enriched flour, breads, sausages, potatoes, ham, all grains, sugars, dry dog/cat food containing poultry byproducts, meat byproducts, corn syrup, caramel coloring, rice flour, wheat gluten, corn gluten, and sugar.
An anti-yeast diet, as well as Pet vitamins, will help to starve the yeast and aid in your pet’s recovery. Diet alone will not cure your pet, but it will help. Once your pet’s yeast infection is gone, you can slowly return to their normal diet.