What are Skin Conditions in Dogs?

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Skin Conditions In DogsUnfortunately, your dog’s skin can be sensitive to all kinds of infections, which can cause inflamed, red, and itchy skin along with other uncomfortable symptoms in dogs. The skin folds in dogs can attract all kinds of dirt and debris; when exposed to a moist environment, dog yeast infections can easily form on their skin. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about skin conditions in dogs and how you can help treat them.  

Bacterial and Fungal Skin Infection in Dogs

Both fungal infections and bacterial infections can leave your pup feeling itchy, with skin that’s crusty, flaky, or moist. Inflammation of the skin, odor, and redness may also become a problem, along with the many health conditions that come with a skin yeast infection or staph infection. But there’s no need to worry since skin problems are common in dogs and they may even indicate underlying health issues. 

Yeast Dermatitis

Also known as Malassezia dermatitis, yeast dermatitis is a common skin condition that irritates a dog’s skin and can lead to skin inflammation when left untreated. While it can usually be found in dogs’ skin, the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis, can grow excessively and lead to atopic dermatitis if it’s allowed to thrive. Some of the most common signs of a yeast infection include the following:

  • Scaly, flaky, or crusty skin
  • Elephant skin or thickened skin
  • Itchiness or redness
  • Ear infections 
  • Musty odor
  • Hyperpigmentation 

Staphylococcal Infection

A staph infection is an extremely common cause of skin disease in dogs and is the result of the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., which can be transmitted from dogs to humans. As such, good hygiene is important, and getting effective treatment as soon as possible should be a priority. This kind of infection can impact your dog’s respiratory tract or skin and can be treated using oral antibiotics such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or cephalexin. 

Alternatively, antifungal shampoo will also help to keep your pooch clean and away from infections. Some of the first symptoms of a staph infection include:

  • Pain
  • Red or inflamed skin
  • Patchy fur with moist, crusty, or peeling skin
  • Excessive licking, chewing, or itching
  • Pus-filled lesions over the skin
  • Ear, eye, skin, or respiratory infections

Causes of Fungal and Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs     

All kinds of fungi and bacteria live on our skin, but they’re usually controlled by a healthy immune system and won’t cause any issues when functioning under normal circumstances. However, if the immune system becomes compromised then fungal and bacterial infections can occur. An increase in the production of oil on the skin or immune deficiencies is among the most common causes of yeast infections. 

Yeast infections aren’t contagious but they can become a recurring problem if the allergy or underlying cause isn’t addressed. Moreover, certain dog breeds are more genetically predisposed to a yeast infection, including the following:

  • Cocker Spaniels 
  • Basset Hound
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Silky Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • German Shepherds

In terms of staph infections, skin irritation can occur when the dog excessively chews, scratches, or licks the affected area. If your dog has food allergies or has an allergic reaction to oral medication or environmental conditions, then you may start to notice these behaviors.

Diagnosing Fungal Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs

To get an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s symptoms, there are a wide range of tests that your vet can suggest to treat a wide range of eye, ear, skin, and nail conditions. Below are some of the most commonly used techniques to diagnose and collect samples from your pet:

  • Skin scrapes
  • Skin biopsy
  • Acetate tape preparations
  • Cotton swab sample
  • Impression smear

When it comes to staph infections, your pet will go through a full physical examination, and your vet may perform a blood count, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. Moreover, they may thoroughly review your pup’s medical history while asking medical questions. A skin test may also be carried out to see if the inflammation is the result of an allergic reaction or immune-related concerns. 

Performing a skin biopsy may be needed, so your vet may need to swab your dog’s skin to understand which oral antifungal medications are best for the condition.  

Treating Skin Conditions in Dogs

When there’s an overgrowth of yeast in dogs, they can be treated using an oral or topical treatment, or a combination of these options based on your dog’s skin conditions. Depending on the severity of the infection, topical medications can be highly effective, but they will need to be given over a long period of time. Because these drugs come with potential side effects (especially on the liver), they will need to be monitored closely using routine blood tests.

A staph infection can typically be given oral treatment through antibiotics, such as anti-fungal shampoo or topical ointments which can be used on various skin conditions. Because this condition can be passed from dogs to humans, extra care is needed when treating and handling your pooch. Make sure to ask your vet about the right medications and supplements for your dog so they can look for the best treatment options for your canine companion.   


Take note that all the advice we’ve provided here is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be used to replace medical advice for your pets. If you suspect that your pup is suffering from skin conditions, it’s up to dog owners to speak to a vet to get the right diagnosis for their pet’s symptoms and to get the best treatment plan possible.