What is Seborrhea?
Seborrhea is common amongst dogs and can be quite irritating to them, and you, as an owner. Your dog may have irritated, itchy and flaky skin that does not seem to get any better. This condition usually impacts your pet’s entire body, however it can worse around his neck, mouth, armpits, thighs and under belly.
There is also an odor that comes with this skin condition which can be worse if your dog has a bacterial skin infection. There are many causes of seborrhea. This condition can be confused with allergies or skin infections.
Seborrhea dermatitis is a common skin condition in dogs. This condition causes flaky excess skin and at times even greasy skin and fur on your dog. It is typically secondary to another issue and rarely, is a primary condition.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Seborrhea in Dogs
Some of the symptoms your dog may experience when dealing with seborrhea will be generalized, however, there are some specific symptoms you may notice.
- Oily skin – His fur or skin can be impacted by this and he may appear waxy; this is worse on his belly, armpits, ears, elbows and ankles
- Dry skin – This is where the scaly and flaking comes from
- Itchiness – Your dog may spend a great deal of time scratching at his skin with no reprieve
- Doggy odor – Caused by overactive glands that secrete a fat laden grease on his skin
- Inflammation – Your dog’s skin may appear red and inflamed due to the seborrhea as well
- Infections – Your dog may have a skin infection secondary to his seborrhea
There are two types of seborrhea, primary and secondary.
- Inherited skin disorder that results in faulty skin cells that overproduce
- More common in certain breeds
- American Cocker Spaniels
- English Springer Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- West Highland White Terriers
- Labrador and Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Possible genetic factor
- Can begin as early as 18 months in puppies
- Progresses throughout your dog’s life
- Most common form of seborrhea
- Typically, there is an underlying medical condition (allergies, endocrinopathies)
- Fungal infections
- Dietary issues
- Environmental factors
Causes of Seborrhea in Dogs
The cause of primary seborrhea is hereditary and this is diagnosed by process of elimination of any possible underlying causes. Secondary seborrhea however has multiple possible causes which may be:
- Hormonal imbalances (thyroid disease, Cushings’s disease)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Parasites (fleas, ticks, mites, lice)
- Fungal infections, yeast infections
- Dietary issues
- Poor diets – nutritional deficiencies
- Allergic to ingredients
- Environment (temperature, humidity)
Diagnosis of Seborrhea in Dogs
If you notice your dog’s bed has dandruff or skin flakes on it and are concerned with any other symptoms, a visit to your veterinarian may be in order. Once there, the veterinarian will want to perform a full physical and take a history.
To diagnose the cause of your dog’s symptoms, your veterinarian will want to rule out any other possible issues or causes. Testing will include skin scrapings, blood work, fecal samples for internal parasites, and looking at his endocrine system for any concerns there.
Hormone tests may be done as well to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s symptoms. If the veterinarian cannot find an underlying cause and your dog is a high-risk breed for primary seborrhea the diagnosing may stop there.
Treatment of Seborrhea in Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with primary seborrhea, treatment will focus on reducing his symptoms. This is a difficult situation as there is no sure-fire way to treat the symptoms. Some things that may be trialed are antibiotics, special shampoos, moisturizers and other medications.
If his seborrhea is primary, maintenance will be ongoing for life and will be necessary for a good quality of life. However, if your dog’s cause of seborrhea has an underlying condition, once that condition is treated appropriately your dog’s symptoms should clear up.
Recovery of Seborrhea in Dogs
The prognosis is very good if your dog’s underlying issue is treated and he is stable again. Follow up will be necessary as directed by your doctor and dependent on the severity of your companion’s seborrhea and other symptoms.
A change to your dog’s diet may be suggested if he is found to have allergies or is not getting enough out of his current food. Otherwise, the condition will be lifelong if it is primary seborrhea, and controlling the condition is the goal. If your dog has secondary seborrhea, once the underlying cause is treated your dog should return to a normal life without long lasting issues.
Seborrhea Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Can seborrhea cause a dark thickened skin of the undercarriage? This occurred following my chow heat cycle, she perspires between her bak legs and developed this with patchy black flakes and a "yeast-like" smell. Will a vinegar oatmeal shampoo mixture or tea tree shampoo help?
Add a comment to Kiah's experience
Was this experience helpful?