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What is Scaly Skin?

Dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible to scaly skin; however the problem may be more likely to occur in very young or old dogs, dogs who are immunocompromised or living in suboptimal environments. Your dog will likely be irritated by scaly skin and your first clue of an issue may be your dog scratching, chewing and licking himself more than normal.

Exfoliative dermatoses is a group of skin disorders which manifest in scaling skin or dandruff. Root causes, severity and treatment methods vary, but exfoliative dermatoses is typically the result of excessive shedding, excessive accumulation of skin cells, or loss of skin cell’s ability to bond together.

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Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Scaly Skin in Dogs

  • Scratching, chewing, licking at skin
  • Scabs
  • Red or irritated skin
  • Dandruff in dog’s bedding, your home
  • Uncharacteristic hair loss, bald patches
  • Hot spot, or localized area your dog keeps itching/biting
  • Scales on face and paw pads
  • Dog rubbing against furniture
  • Irritated areas secreting pus
  • Scaly skin
  • Uncharacteristically bad odor

Specific Breeds

There are a few breeds where the condition is reported more often, these include:

  • West Highland White Terriers
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • Chow Chows
  • Poodles
  • Standard Poodles
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Whippets
  • Great Danes
  • Salukis
  • Italian Greyhounds
  • Akitas
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Basset Hounds
  • German Shepherds
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • American Cocker Spaniels
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Causes of Scaly Skin in Dogs

Scaly skin in dogs can be caused by a wide variety of underlying issues, including:

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Vitamin A or Zinc deficiency, or general malnutrition
  • Abnormal skin and/or hair follicle development
  • Stress or excessive boredom
  • Seasonal, food, topical or flea bite allergy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Parasitic infections: fleas, cheyletiella mites, demodectic mange, sarcoptic mange, ear mites, or lice
  • Fungal infection: ringworm
  • Inflammation of sebaceous (oil producing skin) glands
  • Skin tumors
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Seasonal change
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Diagnosis of Scaly Skin in Dogs

As there are so many possible causes, it is important to bring your dog in for veterinary treatment as soon as you notice a change in her fur, skin, or an increase in itching, scratching, chewing or licking herself. The veterinarian will need your help in tracing the onset of your dog’s condition, so be sure to give a detailed account of when the signs began, how they are progressing, and how your dog is behaving. Also, be sure to report on your dog’s nutrition, environment, normal behavior (such as a typically anxious dog), and any grooming products you have recently used.

The veterinarian may conduct standard laboratory tests, such as blood count, blood biochemistry profile and urinalysis to rule out hyperthyroidism, bacterial or fungal infections, or parasites.

The most important tests are those of the skin itself: a scraping of your dog’s skin will be analyzed for fungal and bacterial cultures. If the veterinarian identifies any growth on your dog’s skin, a biopsy may be taken and submitted to a pathologist for examination in order to determine the presence of parasites, infection, or cancerous cells. If allergies are suspected, allergy testing may be recommended, or your veterinarian may elect to treat symptomaitcally.   If a food reaction is suspected, you may conduct an outpatient elimination trial and report your dog’s condition to the veterinarian regularly.

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Treatment of Scaly Skin in Dogs

In some cases, the skin will be treated with topical products, such as medicated shampoos (salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide aid in cell turnover), or dips or targeted medication (to prevent and treat parasites or infections). For any at-home treatment, it is imperative to carefully follow the directions of the veterinarian and the medication.

In the case of an underlying disease or condition, further treatment may include antibiotics for bacterial skin infections, antifungal drugs for fungal infections, or stronger antiparasitic drugs if topicals are not strong enough. For nutritional deficiencies of specific vitamins, such as vitamnin A or Zinc, supplements will be prescribed. For more broad nutritional deficiencies caused by general malnutrition, a balanced diet and possibly a supplement of essential fatty acids will be prescribed. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, but all dogs benefit greatly from a healthy diet that does not contain filler or artificial ingredients.

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Recovery of Scaly Skin in Dogs

In the majority of cases, carefully following the veterinarian’s instructions will lead to healthy skin, coat, and a happy dog. It is important to follow through with all diet, parasite control, and hygiene recommendations. The veterinarian may recommend a natural, hypoallergenic shampoo for regular use. Frequency of bathing depends upon your dog’s breed and specific skin and coat, so be sure to keep to the recommended schedule. Additionally, regular brushing is important for hygiene but frequency will also depend upon your dog’s breed, skin and coat. In order to prevent further issues with scaly skin, keep your dog’s environment clean.

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Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

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Scaly Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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American Pit Bull Terrier

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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9 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dandruff, Mild Itching, Hair Loss

My puppy was a rescue. At 7 weeks old, is skin is dry, flaky, has dandruff and it itchy. He does not have scabs, a rash, or any inflammation. From my pov, it seems like dry skin like a human would have dry scalp.

Dec. 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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9 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. Absolutely, his skin is dry. This can have many causes including parasites, poor diet, allergies, a yeast infection etc. It is best to have him checked by a vet as he will likely benefit from some medicine such as a medicated shampoo and skin supplements. Do ensure he is up to date with a good quality parasite prevention and is on a balanced puppy diet.

Dec. 16, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Shedding And Scabs

We used a new dog shampoo during her bath last week. This week we have noticed crusty scabs all over her skin and she’s shedding a lot more than usual. Could this be an allergic reaction to the shampoo we used or something more serious? She doesn’t seem bothered by the scabs. She had mange before we got her a year ago, is that something that can return?

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry that your dog is having issues. This may be an allergic reaction to the shampoo. If these signs continue, your dog may need antibiotics to clear the skin. I hope that your dog's skin clears up soon.

July 24, 2020

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Scaly Skin Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
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