Canine Dry Skin: Every Single Skin Condtion Listed.

A Complete Guide to Canine Dry Skin…

If your beloved canine develops dry skin it could be due to a number of problems (most of which we have listed on this page).

Dry skin can lead to pretty horrific symptoms, some of which are easy to cure and some that are more tricky. Every single dog (yes even yours) has had Fleas at some point. Of course although Fleas are easy to treat, did you know that the nasty little parasites can infest your House (and live in your carpet for months). So that you get a really good idea about all of the dry skin conditions listed on this page we have provided a few pictures too (some of which are very unpleasant).

Canine Dry Skin: Just some of the conditions that can affect your pooch

Condition: Bacterial Infection

Symptoms: Often caused by a parasitic, allergic or hormonal condition.

Condition: Canine Distemper

Symptoms: Impetigo, thickening of the end of the nose & foot pads. The scaling that affects the nose (including the thickened foot pads) is Nasodigital hyperkeratosis.

Condition: Cushings Disease

Symptoms: Hair loss, black heads and lethargy.

Condition: Demodectic Mange

Symptoms: Scaling, hair loss, ulcers, itching, skin darkness.

Condition: Flea Allergy

Symptoms: Redness, frantic itching, hair loss, crusty scaly skin.

Condition: Impetigo

Symptoms: Crusty skin, circular areas of scaling, pustules.

Conditon: Cheyletiella Itching, hair loss, scaly skin.

Condition: Ringworm Hair loss, pustules, itching, crusty scaly skin.

Condition: Sarcoptic Mange/ Scabies

Symptoms: Frantic itching, listlessness, hair loss, crusty scaly skin. All of the pictures on this page of dogs suffering from Sarcoptic Mange.

Condition: Malassezia pachydermatis

Symptoms: Redness of the skin, scales that are greasy, hyper pigmentation. This condition was first diagnosed in 1991. This is a similar dry skin condition that affects humans (although in humans it is caused by Candida albicans. Malassezia is a yeast infection and is primarily seen in certain breeds including Dachshunds, West Highland Terriers and Basset Hounds. This condition is very itchy and commonly affects the areas around the face, armpits, groin, feet and legs. In fact it is the ears that are more commonly affected (often leading to a build-up of grease). Malassezia responds well to topical creams, shampoos and oral antifungal medications.

Condition: Leishmaniasis

Symptoms: Scaly skin, hair loss, ulcers appearing on the nose & ears. This particularly unpleasant condition can also lead to a fever and is treated with antimony-based medications. Leismaniasis is often seen in South America, India and Africa.

Condition: Lupus Erythematosus

Symptoms: Skin will have lesions including ulcers on the foot pads, scaly skin and bacteria infections that are recurring. Lupus is a very serious condition which can lead to Kidney failure. If you would like to learn more about this condition you can read more on Wikepedia.

Condition: Black hair follicular dysplasia/dystrophy/alopecia

Symptoms: This condition affects only black hair which will then fall out. Scaly skin may also occur. Symptoms normally occur and appear between the ages of 3-6 weeks.

Condition: Pelodera dermatitis

Symptoms: This affects areas of the skin that touches the ground causing itching, hair loss, redness and crusty scaly skin.

There are a variety of methods used to diagnose any specific dry skin issues including…

  1. Blood tests
  2. A Woods Light may be used to determine certain fungal infections including Ringworm.
  3. A biopsy may also be taken which will involve a skin scrape or a needle being inserted into a lump to remove any cells which will then be examined.
  4. Clinical signs will be used to determine what condition is present whether it is a dry skin condition, yeast infection or something else.
  5. Your vet may also be able to diagnose any canine dry skin condition by simply looking at the history of the breed. Certain breeds are more prone to dry skin problems including West Highland Terriers.
  6. A physical examination will also be undertaken to determine any dry skin health issues that maybe in the early stages (and not always easy to spot by the untrained eye).
  7. Microscopic examinations are often used to diagnose complicated skin problems.
  8. If your dog is suffering from a flea allergy – then the first thing that your vet will look for is the presence of fleas.
  9. Urine samples may be taken or adrenal glands function tests to check for cushings disease.
  10. Tests for hormonal levels may also be taken to diagnose a canine dry skin condition and exactly what is causing the issue.

Treatment for dry skin conditions may include the following…

  • Topical shampoos including Hydrogen Peroxide, Chlorhexidine or Benzoyl Peroxide may be used.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Treatment of any underlying disease including oral Ketoconazole for Lupus Erythematosus.
  • Steroids might be prescribed to ease the itching.
  • Mild antibacterial shampoos may also be used.
  • If you are dealing with Ringworm the treatments may include a lime sulfur dip, Miconazole or oral Griseofulvin.
  • For conditions like Scabies, Amitraz (Mitaban) may be prescribed.
  • For a condition like Lupus Erythematosus your dog may be prescribed Predisone and possible other immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Vitamin E or fatty acids might be used when dealing with a dry skin condition like Dermatomyositis.
  • Permethrin or Pyrethrin might be prescribed for a condition like Cheyletiella.

Treating Yeast Infections in Dogs…

  • Feed your dog a good diet as one cause of yeast infections in dogs – Candida Albicans or Malessezia is not only from chemicals and poisons but also from grain based dog food. Other causes include weaknesses in your dog’s immune system which may have been caused by a bacterial infection or allergy.
  • Probiotics may help to re-build healthy bacteria.
  • Avoid dog food with preservatives and carbohydrates.
  • Oral anti-fungal drugs may also be prescribed.
  • Medicated shampoos and/or wipes can be effective if the yeast infection is localized.
  • For the yeast infection called Malessezia treatment may include Miconazole Cream or if the yeast infection is resistant to topical treatments your vet may prescribe Oral Ketoconazole
  • Selsun Blue shampoo which is used for humans is also quite good when used with Malessezia yeast infections

When dealing with any canine dry skin condition including a yeast infection always get advice from your vet and don’t use any treatments until you have had professional advice.

More dry skin conditions…


Hives: are another fairly common dry skin condition seen in dogs. Hives is caused by an allergic reaction which causes a raised (itchy) circular patch that appears on the face and around the body.

The most common causes of Hives are via insect bites (but they can be caused by other allergens in your dog’s environment. Treatment normally involves a dose of antihistamines. Please bear in mind that antibiotics can also cause Hives .

Lick Granuloma: also known as (Acral Lick Dermatitis) is caused by dogs that consistently lick the same area. Certain breeds are more prone to the condition including Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. Although there has not been a genetic link confirmed there is some evidence that dogs with ‘nerve deficits’ are more prone to Lick Granuloma.

Damp Hay Itch: also known as Pelodera Dermatitis is caused by a nasty little parasite that burrows into the skin (especially around the chest, abdomen and feet) leading to very itchy and dry skin. Damp Hay Itch is caused by a parasitic larvae that is found in decaying hay and straw. Treatment for this condition can include Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoos being administered.

Chiggers: are caused by Trombiculid Mites  (and is also known as Harvest Mites or Red Bugs). Dogs that are walked in forested areas (in late Summer) can become infested as this is a prime area and time for Chiggers to reproduce.

If you are unsure whether your dog has Chiggers you should examine the areas between the toes, ears and mouth (the little parasites are normally red, orange or yellow in color). A dog with Chiggers can develop sores and scabs that are intensively itchy. Treatment will normally involve the coat being treated with a Pyrethrin shampoo or a Lime Sulfur Dip.

Lice: also known as Pediculosis are actually fairly rare in dogs. Lice are more common in dogs that are badly looked after (as the Lice tend to accumulate in matted hair especially around the eyes, head, neck and shoulders. Lice causes intensive itching and can lead to hair falling out in patches. There are two species of Lice including those that bite and those that suck.

Hypothyroidism: can lead to serious hair loss (but without the itching). Thyroid problems can also lead to skin changes that are the same on both sides of the body.

Seborrhea: is a skin condition that is Primary or Secondary. Seborrhea is characterized by dry skin flakes that shed from the hair and epidermis. The skin flakes can be dry or oily/greasy. If the affected dog has a greasy, oily skin then it could be due to an over production of Sebum (caused by the Sebaceous glands). Seborrhea often affects the areas around the elbows, hocks, neck, chest and ears.

Primary Seborrhea: can’t be cured but can be effectively treated with shampoos. If the flaking skin is mild then the Vet may only prescribe a mild hypoallergenic shampoo but if the flaking is more severe then the Vet may prescribe or more invasive shampoo (including as a Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo).

Secondary Seborrhea: develops when another skin condition triggers the initial seborrheic reaction. There are a variety of skin conditions that lead to Secondary Seborrhea including Scabies, Flea Allergies, Demodectic Mange and Hypothyroidism.

Puppy Dermatitis: This condition is also called Impetigo or Acne and normally develops in puppies that are aged 1 year old (or younger). Impetigo is a particularly nasty skin condition that normally develops on the abdomen or groin (you may notice pus-filled blisters that can burst). The most common cause of Puppy Dermatitis is due to unsanitary conditions.

Puppies that develop Acne are normally aged 3 months (or older). Puppy Acne is normally purple in color with red pustules and blackheads that also burst. The Acne is often seen on the chin and lower lip.

Sources

Ackerman, L. 1995. Owners Guide to Dog Health.

Bleby,J and Bishop, G. 2003. The Dog’s Health from A-Z.

Eldredge, D. Carlson, L. Carlson, D and Giffen, J. 2007. The Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook. 4th Ed.

Mash, H. 2011. The Holistic Dog: A complete guide to natural health care. The Crowood Press.

The American Animal Hospital Association Encyclopedia of Dog Health and Care, 1994. Quill. New York.

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats. 1996. Rodale Press Inc, Emmaus, Pennsylvania.