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4 Common Dog Skin Problems and How to Treat Them

4 Common Dog Skin Problems and How to Treat Them

Watching Fido scratch non-stop isn’t only annoying, it’s frustrating for most owners to be unable to provide relief. Our fur babies can suffer from a variety of dog skin allergies, most of which cause pain, itching, and inflammation, as well as other issues.

Depending on the dog’s age, breed and various genetic factors, they could be predisposed to skin problems. Some of these are caused by allergic reactions to dog food and environmental factors. Here are some of the most common skin problems we see in dogs, and how you can treat them.


Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. An adult flea bites the dog and injects a small dose of its saliva into the skin. In many cases the fleas then leave, so you might not see any signs of flea infestation on the dog. This flea hypersensitivity causes the dog’s immune system to overreact. It develops an antigen to the saliva, which causes the itching as it attempts to fight off the bacteria. A single flea bite can cause a dog to itch for days. Most dogs develop FAD between 2 and 5 years, and are more likely to get it if they have other allergies. Symptoms include itching and hair loss on the dog’s back near the tail and down the back legs.

How It’s Treated

The most important step is to prevent the dog from getting bitten by any fleas, even just a single one. Monthly oral and topical flea preventives are the best way to do this, but it’s also helpful to strengthen your dog’s immune system through healthy nutrition and lifestyle combined with natural remedies.


Atopic Dermatitis

This is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease that is the second-most common skin complaint we see in dogs. This condition develops between the ages of 3 and 6 months, although it can be very mild initially. Symptoms show up in and around the ears, paws, face, muzzle, groin, and between the toes, so if you see your dog scratching, rubbing or licking any of these areas get her checked out.

Atopic dermatitis is often an allergic response to substances that are usually harmless, such as grass, pollens, mold spores, house dust mites, animal dander, and other environmental allergens. A family history of dog skin allergies raises the risk of this condition for your pet.  

How It’s Treated

Treatment depends on identifying your dog’s allergy trigger, then giving her a series of injections to reduce her sensitivity to it. This process works in 60% to 80% of patients, but it takes between 6 and 12 months and the results are often mediocre. Bathing the dog in cool water using anti-itch shampoos can help while you wait for the treatment to take effect. Once again, enhancing your dog’s immune system offers one of the best remedies.


Pemphigus Foliaceus

This is the most common autoimmune disease found in dogs, and it presents itself as a skin condition. The disease develops when the dog’s immune system starts attacking the skin. You’ll find your pet getting skin lesions that start out as small red spots, then turn into a pimple and burst. Usually, you’ll first notice it when the pimples start to burst. Some dogs find this condition makes their skin itch, but in most cases it’s painless.

The real risk of pemphigus is the infection that can develop once the pustules burst, or as a result of scratching and breaking the skin. Certain breeds such as Chow Chows, Akitas, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and English Bulldogs are more likely to get this, although other breeds can also develop the condition.

How It’s Treated

The typical treatment for pemphigus is prescription medication, including steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. My thoughts on prescription drugs are well known, but in some cases they may be the final resort. Try natural methods first, however, combined with a healthy lifestyle, stress-free environment and avoiding harsh sunlight.



Canine hyperkeratosis is when the skin on your dog's nose or paws thickens and hardens, leading to cracked dog paw pads and dog nose problems. It’s caused by the dog having a high keratin content, a condition passed down through many generations. Occasionally, hyperkeratosis can be a symptom of a different condition, such as canine distemper, leishmaniasis, pemphigus or a type of dermatitis.             

How It’s Treated

You’ll need to soften, then trim and remove the hardened skin on the paws. Keep your dog as healthy as possible with the right nutrition and exercise, and administer natural solutions such as our Skin and Allergy product to help reduce inflammation.

For more information on how our products help reduce dog skin allergy symptoms, or to order your bottle of MaxWell Pet Skin&Allergy solution, please contact us.

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