What are Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders?
One of the most common reasons owners take their loved ones to the veterinarian are due to skin infections. There are many different types of skin infections with a variety of causes. The symptoms of skin infections are very hard to ignore, as the dog suffers from itchy skin, lesions, rashes, hair loss, bumps on the skin, and more. There are other skin disorders that are quite different from the typical irritating skin surface types, and these are called depigmenting dermatoses, or skin disorders which commonly have a loss of pigment, either slightly or severe. Depigmentation dermatoses can cause pigment loss on a small part of the dog’s body, such as on the nose, around the anus, on the ear tips, around the eyes, or on bald spots of the skin.
Depigmentation dermatoses are the many types of skin or bodily conditions which can lead to loss of pigment in the skin and, in some instances, the fur of the dog. These skin infections and loss of skin color disorders in dogs can be caused by autoimmune disorders, allergies, infections, or irritants.
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Symptoms of Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs
When a dog loses skin pigment or hair pigment, the symptoms are usually quite noticeable. Many of the symptoms of the pigment dissolving are not painful to the dog. If the skin is affected, such as by top-surface loss, then that may be a little uncomfortable for the canine. Symptoms include:
- Leukotrichia, or the whitening of the hair
- Leukoderma, or the skin pigment disappearing
- Lightening of the skin color
- Erythema, or reddened skin
- Ulceration of the skin, or loss of some of the skin’s surface
There are many types of underlying conditions that lead to loss of pigment in dogs. Types of depigmenting dermatoses can either involve specific dog breeds, are autoimmune, and a few of these disorders are quite rare.
- Pemphigus foliaceous
- Uveodermatologic syndrome
- Mucocutaneous pyoderma
- Nasal planum
- Nasal philtrum arteritis
Causes of Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs
The causes of the many types of depigmenting dermatoses vary, yet there are several that have common causes. Causes also may depend on breed predications. Causes include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Inflammation of the skin
- Bacterial or fungal infections of the skin
- Skin cancer
- Excessive stress
- Hormonal changes
- Drug interactions
Diagnosis of Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs
Once you notice the symptoms, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian. He will give your dog a thorough examination and will look at any history of conditions or symptoms which could be related to this particular depigmentation. The medical professional will conduct complete testing of blood work, an electrolyte panel, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. The results of these tests will give the veterinarian insight as to what the underlying cause is of the symptoms the dog is portraying.
Skin samples will be taken from the dog and sent to the lab to be biopsied, as well as looking at the skin with dyes that are fluorescent. Fluid may also be taken from the dog’s joints to test for an autoimmune disorder such as lupus.
Treatment of Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs
Treatment of your dog’s condition solely depends on the underlying cause and the diagnosis. A few types of conditions that lead to loss of pigment will not require any treatment, just monitoring over time. Treatment options may include:
Reduction of Sunlight
One treatment option of depigmenting dermatoses, whatever the cause of the specific condition, will be to keep the dog out of direct and indirect sunlight for moderate to long time periods. Application of prescription sun block may also be required.
Medications may be given to treat the underlying disorder once the veterinarian comes to a complete and definitive diagnosis. The medications may be either in the form of ointments or by tablets. If the condition is due to an infection, such as a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. Antifungal medications may be prescribed for fungal infections which are causing the loss of pigment.
If the dog’s condition is due to an autoimmune disorder, the veterinarian may want to put the canine on steroid therapy to help calm the body and to decrease any immune response.
Recovery of Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs
Monitoring the dog’s progress after medications have been given is very important, and the dog will still be under his care and will require regular visits. Depending on the diagnosis of your loved one, your veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to care for your dog when home. Any new symptoms, or worsened symptoms, will need to be reported to the veterinarian. These could also be because of drug interactions. You may need to restrict the time your canine is outside in order to lessen exposure to sunlight. This will also depend on the veterinarian’s instructions as he may allow moderate outside time with a special sunblock.
Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My mini schnauzer started presenting with white spots about 2.5 years ago, around age 7. He was dx with vitiligo. In the past year, he has concurrently presenting hyperpigmented spots, sometime touching hypopigmented spots. He has also, very recently, begun showing localized hair loss in the shoulder region. It is not related to the location of any hyper or hypo pigmentation spots. I am concerned that this may be either a misdiagnosed hypothyroidism case or a combination of vitiligo and recent onset hypothyroidism.
Obviously, he will be getting a blood work-up on our next chance (when he sees his surgeon in a few weeks) but I don’t want to risk it if there is a ‘zebra’ condition that he could have.
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Hello. We recently adopted a wonderful 4 yr old hound type from a southern (Alabama) rescue. He has been successfully treated for heartworm and is otherwise healthy. When he arrived, he had a pink, hairless area on his snout, just behind his nose, which we thought might be sunburn, as we used to have a dog with this problem. In the 6 wks we've had him, the area has grown, and the pink color is spreading into the black part of his nose. The skin appears a little bumpy/bubbly, but not disgustingly so. Our vet has prescribed Animax ointment, which I am using twice a day. He hates it, but it seemed a reasonable beginning to treatment. Do you agree? Or should I be more concerned (I know there are many serious nose problems out there). Thanks in advance for any response you can give.
Hello , my 1 year old corgi has the same thing happening around her nose and now on her nose. Have you found anything that is helpful ? I thought maybe it was caused by allergies to her food but I’m not sure. My dog got prescribed antibiotics and anti mite medication but it hasn’t helped .
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Loss of hair along top of tail, and small bumps that turn into scabs along with some hair loss on the back. Noticed some small scabs around the facial area. She has had what sounds like a cough followed by a gagging sound.
Kassie may have pyoderma, sebaceous cysts or other skin conditions; the hair loss may be attributable to self trauma if there is irritation and the top of the tail is easy for a dog to bite at. The cough followed by a gagging sound would be consistent with hair in her throat; I would suggest to visit your Veterinarian as she may require a skin scraping for diagnosis (to rule out parasites and antibiotics for bacterial infection. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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