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Most Common Skin Issues In Dogs

Oliver Jones

Did you know that skin issues are some of the most common medical problems in dogs? You may not think about your dog’s skin very often since it’s covered in fur, but as with humans, the skin is the largest organ in your dog’s body. Your dog’s skin is very sensitive to their environment and can be impacted by some of the same problems you may encounter, such as allergies. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the most common skin issues in dogs.

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Common Symptoms of Skin Conditions in Dogs

Before we discuss potential causes for skin discomfort in dogs, let’s first identify some symptoms you should keep an eye out for.

Itching is one of the most common signs that something might be amiss. Of course, it’s normal for your dog to have an itch every now and then. However, if you find that the itching is happening more frequently than usual, you should keep your eye out for other symptoms that could indicate an underlying problem.

Other common symptoms of a skin issue are sores, redness, rashes, lumps, and bald or scaly patches. Many different kinds of skin conditions share these common symptoms, so it is important to make sure you go to the vet if you think there’s an issue to ensure your dog gets the proper diagnosis and treatment. Keep track of your dog’s symptoms and, if possible, try to notice when they occur. The more information you can provide to the vet, the more accurate the diagnosis is likely to be.

The 10 Most Common Skin Issues in Dogs

Now that you know a little bit more about what symptoms to look for, let’s talk about the common skin issues that could be causing them.

1. Dry Skin

Skin diseases of a black street dog
Image Credit: kazi suhel tanvir mahmud, Shutterstock

Dry skin is typically characterized by flaking and may also be accompanied by redness if your dog has been scratching.

There are many reasons why your dog may have dry skin, including:
  • Dietary Problems: If your dog is getting too little fat in his diet, it can result in dry skin. Of course, you don’t want your dog to eat too much fat because it can lead to other health problems. Talk to your vet about dog food options that will provide your dog with a balanced diet, including healthy fats that can help keep your dog’s fur and skin healthy.
  • Allergies: Your dog’s dry skin could be an allergic reaction to his food, shampoo, dust, smoke, mold, or other common allergens. Dermatitis caused by allergies can cause a rash, itchiness, and, in some cases, infection.
  • Environment: Dry environments can lead to dry skin. If you live in an area with low humidity, your dog could be more prone to dry skin. If you notice that your dog tends to scratch a lot more during the winter, your heater could be the culprit.

2. Hot Spots

hot spot on dog's neck
Image Credit: Tienuskin, Shutterstock

Hot spots are areas of your dog’s body where they have been itching and licking a lot due to irritation. Your dog’s frequent itching and licking are likely caused by another condition. These hot spots might be accompanied by a foul odor and discharge.


3. Impetigo

canine impetigo
Image Credit: VadimZosimov, Shutterstock

Impetigo is a type of skin infection that is seen most often in puppies. It is usually caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, but it is not contagious. Impetigo is characterized by blisters on your dog’s stomach. Your vet should be able to treat this condition with topical medication.


4. Folliculitis

The name folliculitis refers to your dog’s hair follicles. With folliculitis, your dog’s hair follicles will become inflamed, resulting in sores, scabs, or bumps. A dog with folliculitis may be experiencing another skin condition such as allergies.


5. Fleas and Ticks

removing mite and flea from dog paw
Image Credit: Naurora, Shutterstock

Fleas and ticks are parasites that survive by biting your dog. Some dogs have parasite allergies that can cause them to itch. If you see your dog scratching, chewing his fur, or balding, he may have fleas or ticks. In addition to medication to treat your dog’s ticks or fleas, make sure your dog is up to date with any preventative oral medication. You should also keep in mind that bugs can live in your carpet and bedding, so you should make sure to wash your dog’s bedding and vacuum regularly to make sure you kill any remaining bugs.

Related Read: Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention


6. Ringworm

Ringworm is not a worm, but a fungus. Ringworm is very contagious to other dogs and even humans. You can identify this infection by the tell-tale circular patches on your dog’s skin. You may also notice inflammation and redness around the patches where your dog has been scratching. If you suspect your dog has ringworm, let your vet know immediately so that you can treat the fungus and prevent it from spreading further.


7. Dandruff

Yes, your dog gets dandruff, too! Dandruff may be a sign of another condition, or it could simply be an indication that your dog’s skin is too dry. Dandruff is easy to treat, but it may be a good idea to check in with the vet to make sure that nothing else is going on.


8. Yeast Infections

yeast infection on dog
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

If your dog has a yeast infection, it will most often show up in his paws, ears, and skin folds. You might be able to identify a yeast infection due to the strong, unpleasant smell. Yeast infections are not contagious and can usually be treated with topical medications.


9. Mange

Mange is a skin condition that is caused by mites on your dog’s skin. There are two different types of mange: demodectic and sarcoptic. Sarcoptic mange is also referred to as scabies and is contagious to both humans and animals. Demodectic mange usually affects very young dogs or older dogs. Your dog may have mange if he has been having hair loss, redness, and itching.


10. Lupus

Lupus is the most serious condition on this list. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by hair loss, discoloration of your dog’s nose, and skin problems on your dog’s paw pads and face.

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Final Thoughts

All dogs scratch themselves sometimes. However, if you notice excess scratching or other symptoms such as discharge, odors, redness, or hair loss, it’s time to take your dog to the vet to make sure there isn’t something else going on. Although most of the conditions on this list are not very serious, constant itching can have a very negative impact on your dog’s quality of life. The sooner you get your dog checked out when you think something could be wrong, the sooner your dog will return to his happy, healthy self.


Featured Image Credit: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.