Canine dermatitis, which simply means skin inflammation, takes several forms. While you might get rid of some simple dermatitis issues on your own with over-the-counter products, it's best to take your pet to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Simple skin problems can easily get worse without proper treatment. Many cases of canine dermatitis result from allergies, so you vet must determine the underlying cause.
Because fleas can cause a terrible allergic reaction in dogs, resulting in severe dermatitis, make sure your dog receives a monthly topical or oral flea preventive during flea season.
Hot spots, technically known as acute moist dermatitis, are the bane of an affected dog's existence. Your dog will scratch and bite incessantly at the lesion, which he actually incurred from self-trauma because of the extreme itching. These sores appear rapidly and may develop secondary bacterial infections. Your vet will clip and cleanse the area and administer anti-inflammatory medications to control the itching. She may also prescribe antibiotics for any infections and give you medicated power to dry out the lesion at home.
Your dog may have to wear an Elizabethan collar for a while to keep him from bothering the wounded area. Your vet will also conduct tests to determine the cause of the hot spot. Fleas are a common culprit.
Dogs with allergies may suffer from atopic dermatitis, brought on by a reaction to some trigger. Without treatment, this skin condition becomes chronic. Potential allergens include:
- fleas or dust mites
- or molds or pollen
It's not uncommon for more than one trigger to affect a dog. Avoiding these allergens is key to treatment, as canine atopic dermatitis can be controlled but not cured. Signs of canine atopic dermatitis include:
- frequent scratching
- hair loss
- skin thickening
- or lesions, which may become infected.
Changing Diet and Bathing
Getting rid of canine atopic dermatitis requires various approaches, including dietary changes, skin and coat supplements, bathing with medicated shampoos and administration of antihistamines, steroids and other medications. Much depends on the underlying cause.
Your vet may conduct allergy tests on your pet to determine which allergens are responsible. Your dog may benefit from a series of immunotherapy shots, which help around half of canines. These injections must be given over the course of six months to a year. If your dog suffers from certain environmental allergies, you may have to keep him inside as much as possible during the period when certain pollens are prevalent.
Immunotherapy shots can't help a food allergy. If that's the case, your dog must undergo a food trial, usually containing a single protein that your dog has never previously consumed or a prescription hypoallergenic dog food.
Examples of single-protein diets include duck, venison and salmon products. Your dog can't receive treats or table scraps during the food trial. A food trial can take a long time, and it's back to the drawing board if eating a certain diet doesn't get rid of the dermatitis.