6 Common Skin Diseases in Dogs (and How to Treat Them)

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Dog skin disease

Dogs itch. We all itch! It’s a simple fact of life. So how can you tell when your dog’s itching and scratching crosses the border from normal to unusual?

Contrary to popular belief, dogs shouldn’t spend too much time each day scratching themselves. A quick itch behind the ears might be innocent enough, but repetitive scratching indicates the presence of true skin damage.

If you notice your dog persistently chewing on his skin or scratching a certain area, don’t write it off as your dog just “being a dog.” It’s important to uncover the root cause of skin discomfort so that you can help your dog’s skin heal.

The Importance of Spotting and Treating Dog Skin Disease

Most dog skin diseases begin with mild conditions that trigger itching. If your dog scratches long enough, they’ll break the surface of the skin. The skin is supposed to play the essential role of blocking bacteria and yeast from entering, but as soon as scratching cuts the skin, bacteria and yeast have an easy opportunity to sneak into the body and trigger infection.

Bacteria don’t waste any time, either. They move rapidly and grow almost instantaneously. It doesn’t take long for your dog to become increasingly uncomfortable, which unfortunately causes them to scratch even more and compound the problem.

More scratching leads to more skin damage, which leads to aggravated infection, which leads to more scratching. This cycle can spiral into a terrible snowball effect if left untreated. As any veterinarian can tell you, it’s dramatically easier to treat mild skin irritation and disease than it is to treat weeks-old skin infections.


As humans, we naturally associate allergies with sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion, but that’s not how dogs exhibit their allergic reactions. A canine’s allergy cells aren’t located in the upper respiratory tract like a human’s. Instead, your dog’s allergy cells are housed in the skin. This is exactly why high doses of pollen cause your dog to itch incessantly rather than sneeze or sniffle.

Not all dogs are sensitive to allergies, and allergic reactions vary based on your location, lifestyle, surrounding grasses and trees, and other unique factors. Generally, southern states trigger worse dog allergies due to their warm climates. Trees in states like South Carolina never enter a deep freeze that forces plants to go dormant. Instead, pollen is produced all year round, leaving your poor dog without a break from allergy-induced itching.

Beyond pollen, it’s also common for dust, mold, and other environmental allergens to trigger scratching. A dog’s paws and ears are usually most affected, but you may also notice your dog scratching their muzzle, ankles, wrists, and sides.

Food Allergies

Allergies can also be triggered by food. True, life-threatening food allergies are relatively rare, and most dogs suffer from uncomfortable food sensitivities instead. Food sensitivities trigger gradual reactions to ingredients that don’t pair well with your dog’s system. Beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy are all common offenders.

When a certain ingredient triggers an allergic reaction within your dog, it manifests itself on the skin in the form of constant itching. It’s also common for secondary bacterial and yeast infections to form as a result of so much scratching. Gastrointestinal disturbances and episodes like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and overall discomfort may also occur.

Keep in mind that it can take years for your dog to develop an allergy to a food they’re fed every day. Most commercial brands of dog food contain additives or preservatives, which could be the culprit as well.

Bacterial Infections

As a dog owner, you’re probably familiar with hot spots that develop when your dog licks or itches the same spot of skin with too much intensity. Mosquito bites, pollen, and fleas are all common culprits that lead to the itching that cultivates hot spots. These frustrating skin sores often appear overnight and recur with no end in sight.

Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots can become hot, red, oozing lesions that put your poor dog into severe discomfort. As if that wasn’t bad enough, hot spots become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Secondary infections can grow rapidly since bacteria reproduce exponentially.

In the span of just one night, a small hot spot can morph into a raw wound the size of a dinner plate! Immediate treatment is essential for this type of significant dermatological condition. Left untreated, those bacteria can travel into the bloodstream and trigger systemic infection.


If you adopted a stray, abused, or neglected dog, you’re probably all too familiar with the dog skin disease called mange. This uncomfortable condition is caused by nearly invisible mites that burrow under the skin.

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is a highly contagious type of mange triggered by an eight-legged mite parasite. Female mites crawl under your dog’s skin to lay their eggs, where they hatch over the span of three weeks and feed on your dog’s skin. If you notice any of the following symptoms along your dog’s chest, ears, elbows, hocks, or belly, it’s probably scabies:

  • Severe, chronic itchiness
  • Redness and rash along the skin
  • Thick yellow crusts
  • Hair loss
  • In advanced cases, thickening of the skin

Demodectic mange, also known as demodex, is a different type of mange caused by mites that are a normal component of your dog’s skin flora environment. Demodex canis mites are passed from mothers to their pups shortly after birth, but they don’t cause trouble until a weakened immune system allows them to grow out of control.

Demodex is most common among puppies with weak immune systems and elderly, sick, or neglected dogs with other complications like diabetes or cancer. However, it’s even possible for young and healthy dogs to show signs of this skin disease.

Dog skin disease


This fungal infection is most commonly transferred to dogs from cats, even though most cats never show physical signs of ringworm themselves. Ringworm affects the superficial layers of skin, hair, and nails with a signature round, red, raised “ring” of inflammation. This lesion feeds on the keratin found in your dog’s skin and fur, which is why it usually results in round patches of hair loss.

Unfortunately, fungus can multiply and lead to multiple irregularly shaped lesions across your dog’s body. Unlike so many other dog skin diseases, ringworm doesn’t cause severe itching. It’s known for the scabs that develop over areas of hair loss.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases also have the potential to cause complications that harm your dog’s skin. Diseases like Lupus and Pemphigus cause your dog’s immune system to attack itself instead of real foreign threats. Instead of distinguishing between the body’s normal healthy cells and dangerous invaders, your dog’s immune system attacks everything.

Autoimmune skin diseases are known to cause the skin to slough off. Painful, fluid-filled blisters form in place of healthy skin, eventually rupturing into ulcers. Most dogs experience the effects of autoimmune skin diseases along their face, nose, and mouth. Vets prescribe steroids to counteract autoimmune activity, but steroids carry terrible side effects like weight gain, irritability, and even diabetes.

Can Stem Cells Treat Dog Skin Disease?

Rather than treating dog skin diseases with temporary solutions or dangerous drugs, stem cell therapy offers a safe, natural, and effective alternative. The properties of stem cells make it possible for them to immuno-regulate the body and stop the immune system from attacking healthy layers of skin.

Unlike shampoos, creams, and prescriptions that take countless applications to deliver results, stem cell therapy only requires one simple injection of concentrated stem cells. HUC-DT stem cell therapy uses a proprietary fractionation method to deliver a pure stem cell count of about 5 million cells per ml, allowing your dog’s body to receive all of the healing power it needs in one quick appointment.

This is why Stem Cells for Dogs is proud to connect dogs and their owners with the best and most qualified veterinarians currently performing HUC-DT stem cell therapy. Treating your dog’s skin disease shouldn’t be a long, frustrating, or endless process. Visit us today to learn more about stem cells for dogs and find the best vet in your local area.

It’s your job to keep your pet safe and healthy, and stem cell therapy is here to make your job so much easier!

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