Skin care is actually health care. Skin is different from other tissues in that it is in constant contact with the outside world, and it is designed to protect itself. Skin and coat lesions can be a reflection of systemic health, or a disease specific to this organ.

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What are the causes, symptoms & diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

Bacterial infections usually develop when our skin’s natural defences breakdown – this may be from excessive moisture, allergies or trauma. Often determining the underlying condition is vital for long-term success. Some skin infections are easy to identify: your dog is licking madly and there is a foul odour. Others are less clear, such as small red pimples or dark debris at nailbeds. The majority of skin infections will be diagnosed with cytology. Simply put, we examine cells under a microscope to confirm the infection is bacterial and possibly the type of bacteria. We will also look for other opportunistic infections that may be sneaking past your dog’s skin defences.

What are the causes, symptoms and treatment of ringworms?

Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is actual a fungal infection of the skin or nails. The spores, depending on which dermatophyte, may be found on other animals, on inanimate objects, or in the soil. The spores do not normally infect healthy skin – a wound, other infections, general ill health can reduce the skin’s natural defences to allow the infection to occur. A ringworm infection can range from absolutely nothing (asymptomatic) to itchy round scaling hairless rash. Yet some dogs are not itchy, and some have small generalized lesions. A confident diagnosis is made with laboratory testing. Treatment is related to the severity of an infection. Topical antifungal cream, shampoo therapy or oral medications may be required. Ringworm is usually a self-limiting condition that resolves in a few weeks, so treatment may not be pursued. The big reason for treatment is to reduce the number of spores in the environment since dermatophytosis is considered zoonotic (it may infect humans). Try not to scratch now.

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Allergic skin disease is a broad term to address the skin lesions and infections that occur with an allergy. Allergies are a dog’s reaction to something that should be considered part of their normal environment. You may consider it the immune system’s overreaction to something it encounters. We tend to group causes of allergies into groups: seasonal, food, and environmental. Treatment options are as numerous as the allergies themselves. If you read about bacterial skin infections, one learns that numerous opportunistic infections will be part of allergic skin disease. Treatment needs to identify and treat these conditions as well. Our goal is to provide options and design a plan that helps your dog and will be feasible for you.

What are the causes and treatment of parasitic skin diseases?

Parasites are a large collection of organisms that are designed to live on other creatures. Everything from fleas, mites, even ticks would be considered a skin parasite. The treatment for a parasite infection is based on which parasite is involved and the severity of the infection.

What are the causes and treatment of hormonal skin diseases?

Hormonal skin lesions may be considered symptoms for abnormal hormone balances – often referred to an endocrinopathy. Endocrinopathies commonly due to disease in the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, or pituitary gland. You will still have hair loss but will not be itchy and generally lack any associated rashes. Endocrinopathies are a serious systemic concern, they affect multiple organs besides skin, so an examination with appropriate testing should be pursued.

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