What is Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis)?
Although dermatophilosis can be spread, it is not easy to reproduce. In other words, it is not commonly seen in more than one pet in a single household. It actually takes a combination of extreme circumstances for dermatophilosis to multiply. The most common way for the disease to take hold is if a dog who is exposed to warm and moist areas for long periods. The dog may also be malnourished, ill, or be exposed to tick bites. While it is possible for humans to be infected with dermatophilosis, it is very rare.
Dermatophilosis is a skin disorder that can affect any age, breed, or sex but is most often found in those dogs that are around farm animals often and in the warmer, humid states. Horses, sheep, and cows are the most commonly affected by this skin disorder and it can be transmitted through open skin wounds or bites from ticks and fleas. The crusty bumps can sometimes mimic hives and your dog will be scratching them so it can be mistaken for an allergy or fleas. If you see that your dog has a crusty rash with round lesions and bumps you can check by looking under the scabs to see if there is a cluster of hairs underneath. There may also be pus or clear fluid oozing from the sores. It is best to take your dog to the veterinarian to be certain.
Dermatophilosis is a dermatitis of the skin that is characterized by sores and scabs in the affected areas caused by the bacteria Dermatophilus congolensis. Often, this disease is triggered by tick bites or injuries in animals that are in constantly damp conditions. Dermatophilosis can be seen anywhere worldwide, but it is most often found in hot, humid areas such as southern states like Florida and Louisiana. There are two types of dermatophilosis, which are acute and chronic.
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Symptoms of Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs
The main symptoms are the rash and the itching, but there are certain things that make dermatophilosis stand out from the others. These symptoms are:
- Yellowish gray crusty lesions
- Weeping sores
- Scabby abrasions
- Groups of hairs under the bumps
- Rash is usually on the head, neck, back, and rear end
There are two types of dermatophilosis, but the only difference is the amount of time the disease takes to become serious. The acute form, which is more dangerous, can spread fast and be fatal within a short period.
Chronic Dermatophilosis is the most common and may not be discovered until it has spread all over your dog’s body. It usually starts in the head and neck area and spreads all over the torso before moving to the rear end and back legs.
Acute Dermatophilosis is not common in dogs and is usually only seen in the tropics where there are major infestations of ticks and fleas. This form moves fast and covers the whole body within weeks. The acute form of dermatophilosis is usually fatal within about a month.
Causes of Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs
The actual cause of dermatophilosis is a bacterium called dermatophilus congolensis, which is commonly found in farm animals such as horses, sheep, and cows. Those animals in the warmer climates of the world are most susceptible because the bacteria thrives in hot and wet conditions. Even if your dog does not have direct contact with any of these animals, fleas or ticks in the area can transmit dermatophilosis so check your dog carefully for any of these pests. If your dog spends a large amount of time in these conditions or has recently been to a farm or around farm animals and has an itchy rash, your veterinarian should check him for dermatophilosis. If your dog contracts the acute variation of dermatophilosis, it can quickly be fatal, so it is essential to see your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect dermatophilosis.
Diagnosis of Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs
After doing a detailed physical examination, your veterinarian will need to run some tests to rule out other skin disorders, such as besnoitiosis, staphylococci, mange (demodectic and chorioptic), contagious ecthyma of small ruminants, photosensitivity, nodular dermatitis, ringworm, and chorioptic mange. Some tests that the veterinarian will need to complete are blood tests (i.e. complete blood count, blood gases, chemistry panel), microscopic examination of skin scrapings, urinalysis, and radiographs (x-rays) to check for any underlying complications.
Treatment of Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs
In many cases, there is no need for treatment because the chronic form of this disorder will clear up on its own if the area affected is small and your dog is healthy. However, be sure to remove your dog from the area of infection and treat for fleas and ticks.
If your dog has a more severe case of dermatophilosis, the veterinarian will use a special antibacterial shampoo to wash your dog and remove all of the crusted and infected skin. They will also give you a prescription for antibiotics (i.e. amoxicillin, tetracycline) to clear up infection. You will have to bring your dog back to see the veterinarian in two weeks to be sure the dermatophilosis is completely gone. If the results are still positive, you will have to continue with the antibiotics or the veterinarian may try another medication.
Recovery of Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs
Your dog’s recovery depends on whether it is acute or chronic and how bad the infection got before treatment was sought. If it is the acute form of dermatophilosis, your dog will not make it if you do not get him to the veterinarian right away. Chronic dermatophilosis can recur if your dog continues to be in the same conditions. To prevent recurrence of the disorder you should keep your dog clean and dry. If your dog is a cattle dog or other farm animal, you may need to discontinue that activity until the infection has been gone for several months and be sure to provide a dry area where your dog can sleep at night.