Dog Skin Conditions - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Remedies

Unfortunately many dogs today suffer from dog skin conditions. In fact, it's the number one reason dogs are taken to the vets according to VPI Pet InsuranceAllergies is the most common diagnosis costing dog owners an average of $183 per visit.  But, did you know yeast infections are often misdiagnosed as allergies?   They have similar symptoms and both occur more often in hot and humid climates.

 If your dog starts to itch as soon as the weather gets warmer, then it may be yeast they're suffering from.  Luckily yeast is easily treated at home.  See here for more information.

Is your dog constantly itching and scratching? Rubbing his face? Licking his paws?

If you answered yes, then chances are he is experiencing an issue with his skin.

In fact, nearly all dog skin problems have the symptom of itching so treating the symptoms alone usually results in multiple vet visits. 

You can reduce the number of vet visits by understanding the cause and treating at home, where possible. And many are easily treated at home, if you just know which condition to treat.  Find out how you can determine the cause in 3 easy steps.  

The most common canine skin disorders are as follows:

Symptoms and treatment for dog dry skin.
Dog dandruff is common in winter but is easily treated at home.
Quick treatment for hot spots in dogs.
How to remove a tick from your dog.
Yeast infection in dogs can be treated effectively at home.
Dog mange is highly contagious so effective treatment is needed.
Skin infections in dogs can be managed with the right shampoo.
Flea treatment for dogs.

Many of these conditions can be prevented or treated by using a good quality dog shampoo on a regular basis.  Also, did you know that just by adding a simple supplement to your dog's food, you can improve the condition of your dog's skin and coat, regardless of the cause!  

That's right, Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil can help with nearly all skin-related disorders. It boosts your dog's immune system and, in time, can help your dog to heal its own skin-related condition from within. You can find out why and how here.

Many dogs that suffer from skin disorders actually have an immune system that is not functioning correctly or is otherwise compromised. Simply adding salmon oil that has an abundant supply of omega oils will help to restore the immune system.

If you think your dog doesn't need a salmon oil supplement because his kibble contains salmon oil or is salmon flavored then you would be mis-led.  Any kibble that has salmon oil added would provide little to no benefit to your dog.  

Dog food manufacturers may add the supplement to the food before processing but by the time the food gets to your dog the active ingredients added will almost certainly be destroyed.  That's because salmon oil is full of omega oils which are unstable to heat, oxygen, and light and cannot survive  the high heat temperatures that processed kibble or canned food undergoes. Even if some oils survive the manufacturing process they would almost certainly be destroyed when being stored in opened bags that are not refrigerated.

Click here to jump to the best treatment for an itchy dog!

Here Are 3 Steps to Determine Cause

  1. Examine your dog closely to determine the specific symptoms, other than just itching and scratching.
  3. Review symptoms chart to match your dog's symptoms.
  4. Review all potential dog skin conditions that have a checkmark against those symptoms to see which one best matches your dog's condition.

Step 1
Examining Your Dog's Skin

Golden Retriever scratching her back by rolling.

First, we need to get past all that fur and take a look at the skin.  Use your hand to part your dog's hair and look closely at the skin. Are you seeing any signs of sores, redness, dandruff, parasites, dog skin rashes, lumps, bumps or bald spots?  If so, make a note of any findings.

Next, you will need to ask yourself the following, and again, make a note:

  1. When did the itching begin? Age? Time of year?
  2. Does it occur all the time or just seasonally? If so, which season? spring/summer or fall/winter?
  3. Is it linked to a particular environment or event?(i.e indoors/outdoors only, every time you vacuum, spray air-fresheners, etc).
  4. Have you tried any treatments so far and if so, were they responsive?  i.e. medicated shampoos, solutions from pet store, medication from your vet, etc.
  5. How bad is it? Mildly irritating or is it driving your dog nuts?

Remember we were taking notes of all this!  You'll need this information in step 2 to help get to the cause of your dog's itching.  Also, if you do make an appointment with your vet, answers to these questions helps your vet give you a speedy and accurate diagnosis. That way an effective treatment plan can be started early, eliminating the need for multiple vet visits.

WARNING - if your dog's face is puffy or swollen, SEEK IMMEDIATE VET CARE NOW. This is a symptom of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

If it is out of normal veterinary hours then call an emergency veterinary clinic. Do not wait until your vet is open to address this serious issue.

All other skin issues are not as urgent but do require attention to get relief for your dog.

When Dogs Itch

Nearly all dog skin conditions start with an itch. When your dog is trying to scratch that itch, he may scratch his ears, face, or body with his rear legs. He may also rub his face on the floor (or you) or use his front paws to rub his face.

Dog licking his paws as part of itchy skin.

Scratching isn't the only way he will try to relieve that itch. He may also continually lick at his tummy, paws or genitals.

If your dog is excessively licking, this could lead to hair loss in those areas and persistent licking of the belly may cause patchy dark pigments on the skin.

Light colored dogs that lick paws obsessively may turn the fur on their paws a rust color caused by their saliva.  This change in color is a key indicator that there is a skin condition.

Unfortunately there are many dog skin disorders that cause our dogs distress. Luckily there are many home remedies you can try when you determine the actual cause of the irritation to your dog's skin.

Step 2
Symptoms and Potential Dog Skin Conditions

Now you have a good idea of your dog's symptoms, take a look at the below chart and see which symptoms best match your dog's symptoms.

You can then see which potential skin condition your dog may have based on which symptoms have a check-mark for that condition.

Chart of potential skin conditions in dogs.

Some less common symptoms of skin conditions are as follows:


Pus-filled blisters (abdomen  & groin) on puppy

Purplish red spots and blackheads on puppy's face

Extremely itchy. Dogs scratching skin until its raw

Mild thinning of fur (mainly the face) & Mild itchiness

Potential Condition

Puppy Impetigo

Puppy Acne

Sarcoptic Mange

Demodectic Mange

Step 3
Review Dog Skin Conditions

Finally, click on the below links that give more details of the potential dog skin conditions your dog may be suffering from based on his symptoms.

Many canine skin problems start with itching and scratching. If you simply treat the symptoms alone, you may end up with repeated vet visits with an itchy dog. Follow the tips on this page to avoid problems starting and treat existing canine skin disorders at home.

Here you will also find information on which skin conditions can be addressed with home remedies and which will still require a vet visit. Hopefully, you will find a treatment plan that's right for your dog.

So remember, most dog skin conditions share a common symptom...itching. Treating the symptom alone results in multiple vet visits. Canine skin disorders can be avoided and managed at home if you follow the advice here.

› Dog Skin Conditions