Dermatitis, or skin inflammation, can be associated with skin infections, allergies, and the presence of skin parasites.
Typical symptoms include scurfiness of the skin, itchiness, and hair loss, and sometimes a rash or oozy discharge. Dogs often scratch and lick excessively; it may just seem as though they are very motivated to groom themselves and are very clean, or it may be obvious that they are grooming excessively as they may cause themselves damage by their licking and scratching.
Areas of hair loss are common, and brown saliva staining of the fur may also be present. There may also be wounds and grazes associated with skin infection and self trauma.
In terms of treatment, antibiotics are often needed to treat skin infections. However, in most cases there is an underlying issue such as an allergy that also needs to be identified and dealt with. Skin scrapes and tests may be needed to identify any skin parasites; food allergy testing may be needed in order to identify allergies to any food ingredients, and testing can also be done to identify allergies to anything in the environment.
Make sure your dog is up to date on his flea and other parasite treatments, and that he is otherwise healthy. You should then get your dog checked out by a vet and fi nd out what is causing his problem and what treatment is necessary.
Flea and parasite treatments
There are an array of flea and parasite treatments on the market - some are insecticidal, some repel, and others act as a kind of parasite contraceptive. Here's a rough guide to the treatments available.
Collars work in one of two ways; some give off a toxic (to the parasite) gas, and others allow the treatment to be absorbed into the skin - the latter is the most effective.
There are sprays available for both your dog and your home. If using a spray on your dog's coat you must ensure that you get total coverage right down to the skin for it to be effective. Sprays for your home are best used in conjunction with a treatment for your dog.
Spot-ons are applied directly to your dog's skin (most on the back of the neck). The treatment spreads through the lipid layer of skin and is absorbed into the bloodstream, killing parasites on contact or when they bite.
Oral treatments come in the form of tablets, granules, liquids, or pastes. You need to ensure that the entire tablet is ingested for it to be effective.
Shampoos can be used as a ‘quick fix' but will not provide long-term protection from parasites.
How often should I treat my dog?
This depends on the type of product you use. Efficacy can vary from 24 hours to three months.