Most Common Skin Problems in Dogs

Taking your dog for regular check-ups at your local vet is essential, but it’s also important to be aware of common health issues that can affect your canine companion. One of the most frequent concerns for dog owners is skin problems. From allergies to infections, skin issues can be uncomfortable for your dog and worrying for you. In this blog, we’ll explore the most common skin problems in dogs, helping you recognize the signs so you can seek timely advice and care from Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital in Amesbury, Maine. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, call us at (978) 388-3074 for expert guidance.




Allergic Dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis is a leading cause of skin problems in dogs and occurs when a dog reacts to allergens in the environment. This can include anything from pollen and mold to household cleaning products.

Symptoms of Allergic Dermatitis

The symptoms typically involve:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Excessive scratching
  • Rubbing the face or ears against furniture or the floor

Managing Allergic Dermatitis

While the exact treatment will depend on the allergen, regular cleaning of your home and using hypoallergenic bedding can help reduce exposure. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian who can offer specific advice and treatments, such as antihistamines or special shampoos.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Flea allergy dermatitis is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, which makes even a single flea bite highly irritating.

Recognizing FAD

Symptoms include:

  • Intense itching
  • Redness
  • Pimple-like bumps on the skin, around the tail base, back, and legs
  • Persistent licking or chewing of these areas
  • Hair loss

Preventing Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Effective flea control is the best way to prevent FAD. Regular use of flea preventatives, as recommended by your veterinarian, can keep your dog free from fleas. Regularly washing your dog’s bedding and vacuuming pet areas can also help control the flea population in your home.

Hot Spots (Acute Moist Dermatitis)

Hot spots are one of the most painful skin problems in dogs and can appear suddenly. These are raw, red, inflamed areas that can spread rapidly if not treated. Hot spots often start with a small irritation and worsen as the dog itches, bites, or licks the area, making it larger and more infected.

Treating Hot Spots

Treatment involves cleaning the area and applying medications to reduce itching and heal the skin. Your veterinarian might prescribe a topical treatment or antibiotics to combat infection. It’s crucial to address the underlying cause to prevent recurrence.


Seborrhea in dogs is a skin condition that results in flaky skin (“dandruff”) and greasiness of the skin and hair. This condition can be genetic or secondary to another medical issue such as allergies or hormonal imbalances. Symptoms include:

  • Foul odor
  • Oily skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Yellowish or white flakes in your dog’s fur

Managing Seborrhea

Managing seborrhea often involves using special shampoos to remove excess oil and flakes and possibly adding omega fatty acids to your dog’s diet to improve skin health. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor the condition and adjust treatment as needed.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is caused when a dog’s skin reacts to physical contact with chemical substances or physical irritants. Common irritants include detergents, lawn chemicals, or even some types of dog bedding.

Spotting Contact Dermatitis

Symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Blisters on the skin that has been in direct contact with the irritant

Preventing Contact Dermatitis

Prevention involves removing the irritant from your dog’s environment. It may require trial and error to identify the exact cause. Your vet can provide washes and treatments to soothe the skin and prevent further reactions.

Comprehensive Support for Skin Conditions in Dogs

Skin problems in dogs can be a source of discomfort and anxiety for both pets and their owners. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of these common issues is the first step towards providing your dog with relief. Remember, if you suspect your dog is suffering from any skin condition, the team at Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital is here to help. Call us at (978) 388-3074 for expert advice and treatment options tailored to your dog’s needs. Your pet’s health is our top priority, and we are dedicated to providing the care they deserve.

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Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital had humble beginnings in 1968. Dr. Walter Brown opened the animal hospital in a garage next to his home near the current hospital and operated out of this small space until the current building was built in 1969.