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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.

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 symptoms 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 will conduct standard laboratory tests, such as blood count, blood biochemistry profile and urinalysis simply to rule out hyperthyroidism, bacterial or fungal infection and cancer. In most cases, these tests will fall within normal range.

The most important tests are those of the skin itself: a scraping of your dog’s skin will be sent to a laboratory for fungal and bacterial cultures. If the veterinarian identifies any growth on your dog’s skin, a biopsy will 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, an intradermal allergy test will be conducted. Your dog will be sedated during the procedure (30 to 90 minutes, typically), an area of skin will be isolated and multiple injections of allergens will be made into the skin. If your dog has a skin allergy, a small red hive will appear at the site. 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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mixed

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 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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0 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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Tramp

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schnauzer

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bumps
Bumps Scales

Tramp has had scaling on his back for about a year now. It seems to get worse in time. He has bad allergies where we got steroid shots then finally got expensive pills for him. We finally switched to grain free products which really helped. But the scales continue. They are on his back and he doesn’t let us touch his back now. He also has an ear that seems to have an infection. The vet gave us drops but it’s not getting well. The vet doesn’t seem to take either of these seriously. Thanks for any help you can give.

July 31, 2018

Tramp's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Schnauzers are prone to skin diseases that can be helped with prescription shampoos, and ear infections can be resistant to some infections. If your veterinarian is not taking your concerns seriously, a second opinion may be a good idea. Tramp may need particular shampoo therapy, and he may need a different medication or a culture.

July 31, 2018

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Stella

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Pit Bull & lab

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Itchy Skin. Scabs. Hair Loss.

We took in a stray dog about a month ago. She’s adjusted well to living with our 3 other dogs. In the last week or so we’ve noticed patches on her skin. They are scab like. Just today I noticed that the hair is coming out in patches around the scabs. These are also quite itchy for her. Would you recommend an oatmeal bath? Or just a visit to the vet?

June 14, 2018

Stella's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are various causes of scaly skin in dogs which may include infections, parasites, hormonal conditions, allergies other sources of irritation among other causes; you may try to bathe her with an oatmeal shampoo and see if there is any improvement but you should visit your Veterinarian regardless for a quick check. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 15, 2018

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Splenda

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American Stafforshire Terrier

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Scaly Red Skin On Neck
Scaly Red Skin On Upper Chest

Am looking at rescuing a pit mix, female. She has a severe scaly patch under her neck. The rescue is saying it’s a scar from when she was attacked. But they also say they believe she is allergic to chicken. The story seems to change every time I question them. Everything I’ve read points toward parasites mites canine scabies lice or cheyletiellosis. This concerns me as I just lost my dog after spending 7-1/2 years and several $$$ treating his allergies to grass and cannot afford another round.

May 27, 2018

Splenda's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Generally, if you have any concerns or doubts I would advise against adopting a dog especially if the information provided to you is inconsistent; but this is a shame since it isn’t Splenda’s fault that the rescue isn’t being up front with information. Ideally, I would recommend getting a third party Veterinarian to perform an examination as I cannot weigh in really without examining the area in question. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 28, 2018

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Roxy

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Pomeranian

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Scaly Skin

What is the best natural medication for scaly skin on my dog? I just recently noticed about it and hoping that it will not continue to worsen.. It is in the part of her knee..

April 15, 2018

Roxy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are many different causes for scaly skin, including parasites, bacterial or fungal infections. Since I cannot see Roxy, I cannot offer any suggestions for treatment. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine the area and determine what might be going on.

April 15, 2018

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Adino

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Labrador/Beagle

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs
Dandruff
Scaly
Dry Skin

I have a labrador/beagle mix (well that is what the vet said). We rescued Adino about a year ago. And he always had some dandruff problems. At first, he would lick his paws quite frequently. My wife and I changed his diet to the Purina Pro Plan for Sensitive Skin and Stomach. We also began to add fish oil. It has gotten better but the dandruff still occurs. I looked at his skin and noticed some scabby bumps as well. They are not red or inflamed only scaly. But what is weird is that I never see Adino scratching. He does not lick his paws as much either. We did get him that shot that is suppose to reduce itching. Sorry I cannot remember the name of the shot at the moment. It does not seem to bother him but it does bother me when his back is filled with flakes. Oh we also do not use any chemicals to clean our apartment. We have been using Norwex products that do not require chemicals. We also use Norwex powdered detergent. If it is allergies, I cannot pinpoint the allergy. I do not know what else to do and our vet has not been much of a help. She just recommended more omega 3 and allergy pills.

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Kendall

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Border Collie

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Dandruff
Itchy
Flaky

Border Collie mix with short hair, is black with white markings on nose, tip of tail and paws. He goes to grooming twice a month who is also perplexed. About 4 months ago, he began itching, with having very flaky skin, large dandruff flakes on the skin and coat. There is NO smell, redness, bumps, etc. Although he has these symptoms, his coat has remained shiny and normal. We thought it may be the food so we stopped feeding him grain-free. Then, took him to the Vet who was not concerned and said they appear to be allergies. Kendall is now 6 years old has never had allergies. We followed the Vets instructions by bathing and using the medication. The Vet told it would get worse before it gets better. It did but now should be getting better. It has not helped.

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Vader

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Border Collie/Lab

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Flaky
Outer Side Of Both Front Elbows
Outer Side Of Both Front Elbows Fla
Flaky And Red
Both Front Outer Elbows

Our doggie has always had flaky, red outer elbows. He doesn’t seem bothered or licks at them at all but they look uncomfortable. We have had allergy tests done and he is allergic to cedars and some grasses and weeds which we can’t do much about so is there something I can apply to him topically that isn’t real greasy that will get sand and dirt stuff in it?

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Lolly

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French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Hair Loss,Dry Flaky Bumps,Red Rash

My 5 year old French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix developed dry,flaky bumps on her skin and wherever the bumps appear she loses hair. My vet gave her a vetalog shot and a course of Simplifexin. As soon as the vetalog shot wore off,the symptoms appeared again. Back to the vet and once again,a vetalog shot and another round of antibiotics.The third time she went back with this problem,her thyroid was checked. The values came back in the normal range.He was unwilling to prescribe any medications at the third visit and suggested it was something in our home.We have made no changes in laundry detergents.Our dogs bedding is washed in the same detergent as always and ran through an extra rinse cycle with no fabric softener. I have taken her off chicken products and started feeding limited ingredient kibble, in conjunction with PetFresh beef.She is bathed in hypoallergenic shampoo, gets a multivitamin daily, salmon jerky and bone broth powder as a supplement also. The hair loss and flaky bumps is getting out of control and today she has a red rash under her chin and around her little girl parts.

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Shadow

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Rottweiler

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Itchy
Dry Patches
Hot Spot
Sore
Flaky

I have a rottie mix pitbull he got fleas two months ago I took him to the vet and I got him on Cephalexin, apoquel for two weeks then I gave him chewable next gard days after I noticed his skin was flaky which it got worse he started to get pimple like numbs that would pop and turn into open sores then scabs at times his skin twitches when touched is been more than a month I’ve called the vet several times about this and they say is allergies my dog has never had any allergies or any illness a month past and he still has the same condition with hair loss every flaky skin is with hair loss

Scaly Skin Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$350