Featuring Glenbrook Grea Tan Small
Common Dog Health Problems
Allergies, Itchy Skin, Ear Infections, Lip Fold Dermatitis,
Worms, Fleas and Diarrhoea
The Not So Nice Bits
Have you ever noticed your dog obsessively licking or scratching his skin, biting or chewing his paws, or dragging his butt across the carpet or floors as you desperately try to redirect your dinner guests’ attention? These behaviors are nothing to sneeze at. If your dog has shown any of these symptoms, chances are good that he is suffering from allergies.
Symptoms and triggers of allergies in dogs
Dogs allergy symptoms can present in a variety of ways. Some dogs experience frequent itching and/or sneezing, much like humans do.
Often dogs with allergies that affect the skin scratch and lick repeatedly at areas until they get what are known as “hot spots.” These are patches of the dog’s skin that are moist, warm to the touch, and cause discomfort to your dog.
Skin allergies can become a vicious cycle. Itching can cause scratching, licking and biting
which can result in sores or “hot spots” like those pictured above. These cause pain and itching.
Common symptoms of allergies in dogs include:
- Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
- Itchy ears
- Ear infections
- Constant head shaking
- Paw chewing
- Paw licking
- Swollen paws
- Secondary infections of the skin (bacterial or yeast infections)
- Hair loss
- Hot spots
What is my dog allergic to?
Your dog may experience an allergic reaction to any number of things and these allergies may come on at any time in his or her life.
Common substances dogs may be allergic to include:
- Tree pollen
- Grass pollen
- Dust mites
- House mites
- Cigar or cigarette smoke
- Flea control products
- Cleaning products
- Carpet shampoos (look for items specifically labeled “Pet Friendly”)
- Insecticidal shampoo
- Strong soaps, perfumes, or shampoos
- Plastic food and water dishes
- Pest control products (make sure to tell your exterminator that you have pets)
What triggers an allergic reaction?
The simple answer is: an allergic reaction is triggered by your dog’s exposure to whatever he or she is allergic to. However, why do certain foods or environmental factors trigger a reaction in one dog and not in another? There are several reasons for this, primarily genetics. Some dogs (or dog breeds) are genetically predisposed to develop allergies.
Main Types of Allergies in Dogs:
Allergies in dogs fall under a few different categories. If you suspect your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction, it likely falls under one of the following:
Atopy – refers to environmental allergies. Like with humans, these allergies occur when your dog is exposed to higher amounts of pollen in the environment. This causes your dog’s body to release more histamine, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms. The majority of allergies affecting dogs fall under this category and get into the dog’s body by inhalation.
Common symptoms of environmental allergies include biting, chewing, licking and scratching.
Flea – Your dog maybe allergic to household fleas or dust mites in his living environment.Common symptoms include itchy back or base of tail.
The most common allergies are to:
Other common allergens found in food are dairy, egg, lamb, pork, rabbit, and fish. Common symptoms of a food allergy include itchy skin, chronic ear infections, or gastrointestinal problems like chronic diarrhea, chronic gas and vomiting.
Diagnosing allergies in dogs
If you think your dog suffers from allergies you should visit your vet. He or she will likely want to conduct a complete exam and get a history of your dog’s health and symptoms.
2. CAUSES OF ITCHY SKIN
All dogs will scratch at some point, however when scratching and or biting of hair or skin or rolling / rubbing against items consitently then it might be a problem. When a dog is itchyc they wiolo bite themselves, scratch and rub and may ultimately cause self trauma. Their skin will be red, inflamed and sometimes broken and there may be hair loss in the inflammed area. There are a number of potential causes which can generally be attributed to lparasites or allergies.
Parasites, commonly fleas and mites, can cause an itch, but are the easiest to diasgnose.
Fleas cause itchy skin when they bite and even one flkeas can actually casue a big issue if your dog is one that suffers from flea allergy dermatitis. In such a case, your dog will be hyoersensitive to the fleas salivia. A vet will determine is this is the case and provide suitable treatment.
Mites are microscopic parasites that burrow into the skin causing immense irritation and itching. A vet will conduct a skin scrapping in order to make a diagnosis.
Food allergies are uncommon but are typically a reaction to a certain protein source in their food. Itchy skin related to food allergies usually occures first on the feet and ears, but can then present all over the animal. To diagnose a food allergy can be difficult as it requires a strict elimination of all protein sources (meat) which has been fed to your dog. It may be as simple as changing your dog's food to a new protein source i.e. raw beef mince to chicken mince or to cooked meat.
Contact dermatitis is when an animal reacts or has an allergy to something they have direct contact with. This is commonly things like plants, grass, dust mites, could or poison. The skin reation or itchiness will be where they have touched the allergen and this is usually on the feet, belly or underside of the dog. Puppies are often very sensitive to some grasses as they are lower to the ground than more mature dogs. A vet will be able to make an educated guess on the allergen based on the presentation and location of the itch and skin effect.
Itching/Scratching – remedies to calm itchy skin
Itching and scratching is the most common allergic reaction and it tends to become a vicious cycle. Your dog will lick or scratch at his itchy skin. This results in making it itch more. He will continue to scratch. The result: itchy, painful sores.
Cool Cloth: Cool water can take the itch out of irritated skin. If your dog will tolerate it, run a washcloth under cool water and then squeeze the cool water over his itchy, irritated skin.
Oats are a natural way to eliminate itch
- Grind a handful of oats in a food processor or blender until they are the consistency of flour.
- Add the ground oat powder to a tub of warm water.
- Rub on your dog.
- Leave the mixture on your dog’s skin for 10 minutes.
Epsom salts naturally promote healing and reduce inflammation.
- Place a washcloth in warm water with Epsom salts.
- Gently apply this to the affected area of your dog’s skin for five to ten minutes.
- Do this two to three times daily.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be used to reduce inflammation.
- Supplements such as Omega-3 Chewable Tablets which are made specifically for dogs can help with inflammation, itching, and seasonal allergies.
Dr. Karen Becker, an integrative pet care expert, recommends salmon oil, krill oil, tuna oil, and anchovy oil as other excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Atopic dermatitis is caused by inhaling an allergen such as a grass, seed or pollen and the body then having an abnormal immune response to it. Grass seeds can be particfularly dangerous so always check your dog / puppy thoroughly after walks in long grass. Check their feet and pads, the head, ears and under the front and rear legs (where the leg meets the torso). Some grass seeds are arrow shaped and can easily enter the dog's skin and travel internally causing major problems including infections. An operation to remove the seed is usually required.
When a dog is scratching or biting at themselves they can also develop secondary bacterial and fungal infections which can cause them to be itchy as well. Remember that the problem will probably not go away on its own and treating the issue in the early stages is always the best for your dog.
Watch: myPET Podcast Episode 18.1:My Dog Won't Stop Scratching or visi8t the vetnpet DIRECT Help Centre.
3. EAR INFECTIONS
Ear infections are a common canine health problem, and they can be caused by allergies, yeast, ear mites, bacteria, hair growth deep in the ear canal, and more. Symptoms your dog may have with an ear infection include:
- Head shaking or head tilting
- Ear odor
- Vigorous scratching
- Lack of balance
- Unusual back-and-forth eye movements
- Redness of the ear canal
- Swelling of the outer portion of the ear
- Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
Always take your dog to the veterinarian if you think he has an ear infection. In most cases, cleaning and medicating the ear canal will quickly clear up an infection. However, surgery can be needed for chronic infections or if forceful head shaking results in the rupture of a vessel within the outer part of the ear.
Canine ear infections are most commonly caused by bacteria or yeast. Ear mites, excessive hair, moisture or wax, foreign bodies, and allergies, can all be contributing factors in the development of an ear infection. Because the ear canal in dogs is mostly vertical (unlike a human ear canal that is horizontal), it is easy for debris and moisture to be retained in the ear canal.
How Can I Tell if My Dog Has an Ear Infection?
The following symptoms may indicate that your dog needs to have his ears checked by a veterinarian:
Scratching of the ear or area around the ear
Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
Odour in the ear
Crusts or scabs on inside of the outer ear
Hair loss around the ear
Rubbing of the ear and surrounding area on the floor or furniture
Head shaking or head tilt
Loss of balance
Unusual eye movements
Walking in circles
Which Dogs Are Prone to Ear Infections?
Dogs with allergies or those with non-erect outer ears can be predisposed to developing ear infections. Dogs that have excessive hair growth in the ear canal may also be more susceptible to ear infections.
How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?
A veterinarian can usually diagnose an ear infection by examining the ear canal and ear drum with a magnifying ear cone similar to devices used on people. This may require sedation, especially if the dog is very painful. A sample of ear discharge may be examined to look for bacteria, yeast, and parasites. If a bacterial infection is suspected your veterinarian may send a sample of the ear discharge to a laboratory to see what bacteria is causing the infection. Because there are multiple causes and contributing factors that cause ear infections in dogs, it is important that an accurate diagnosis is obtained by your veterinarian.
How Are Ear Infections Treated?
Most commonly, ear infections can be treated with a professional cleaning followed by medication given at home. Your veterinarian may prescribe topical and/or oral medicine. It is not uncommon for some dogs to have recurrent ear infections.
How Can Ear Infections Be Prevented?
Check your dog’s ears regularly for abnormal discharge, odor and/or redness. If your dog’s outer ear appears dirty, clean gently with a cotton ball dampened with a solution suggested by your veterinarian.
After baths and swimming, be sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly.
If your dog has excessive hair in the outer ear canal, it should be removed. A groomer can do this, or you can ask your veterinarian to show you the proper technique for removing the hair
When Is It Time to See the Vet?
If your dog is showing any of the symptoms described above, he should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Ear infections can be very painful and if left untreated can harm both the ear canal and middle ear.
4. LIP FOLD DERMATITIS
What is Lip Fold Dermatitis?
The most likely cause is the accumulation of saliva and food debris in the lip fold areas. The damp, dark, warm environment is ideal for the growth of bacteria which starts to cause irritation in the skin, and eventually an infection. In the above photo you can see how my lip fold hangs down, creating a pocket for bacteria to gather in. Symptoms can be redness in the lip fold area, pain, the foul odor coming from the dog’s mouth, and severe cases can cause hair loss and scabbing.
Why is Lip Fold Dermatitis a problem?
There are several reasons this condition needs to be treated as soon as possible and prevented.
- The first and most important reason is all the bacteria and infection in the lip fold area will be spread throughout your dog’s body. This is not healthy, and could eventually cause other health issues.
- Once the bacteria has turned into an infection, your dog will need antibiotics to clear it up. We all know, antibiotics shouldn’t be overused. If you have a lip fold infection once, chances are good you will have one again down the road and need even more antibiotics.
- In many cases, the lip fold dermatitis turns chronic. If you can catch it early the first time and work hard on preventative measures, you may be able to keep it from becoming a chronic condition.
What are the treatment options for Lip Fold Dermatitis?
- Keep hair shaved in the lip fold area. The wet beard adds to the likelihood of bacteria starting to grow, so shave it off!
- When it is humid and during the summer, the dog is more prone to infection. Whenever the hair around the mouth is real wet from drinking water, or walking in wet conditions, blow dry or towel dry the area. By doing so you dry the lip area which helps keep the bacteria from growing. Always hold the dryer a good distance away and never use a lot of heat.
- Utilise an anti bacterial shampoo a couple times a month. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff accumulates in that beard hair!
- Keep the lip folds clean. After meals and snacks, wipe the area down to get rid of excess food and saliva build up.
- Your veterinarian may prescribe a cream or mousse to apply when you notice the lip folds getting irritated. I use Melasab.
- Brush your dog’s teeth and make sure they have good dental health. Any extra dental bacteria from teeth ending up in the lip folds can start an infection as well.
5. GRASS SEEDS