By Darlene Stott
Published: 08/16/2017, edited: 08/10/2021
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If you, or someone you know, has ever suffered from eczema you understand the pain, frustration, and irritation that can come from this unsightly and uncomfortable condition. Causing itching, redness, swelling and even sores, eczema in humans puts a major damper on quality and enjoyment of life, especially during times of extreme flare ups. This skin condition is easy to spot on people, but would it be just as easily identifiable in a fur covered pet? Are your four-legged family members even susceptible to this recurrent skin issue?
Can Dogs Get Eczema?
Dogs can suffer from eczema and will often develop very similar symptoms to those experienced by humans. Often referred to by its clinical name, atopic dermatitis, or the common term “hot spots”, eczema in dogs requires careful attention and treatment to ensure your pet’s long-term health and recovery from the occasional flare up.
Does My Dog Have Eczema?
Unlike in humans, skin conditions, even chronic ones, are often difficult to spot due to your pooch’s thick furry coat. Physical appearance isn’t the only sign of eczema, however. Keep reading for handy pointers to identifying your pup may have an issue.
Eczema in your dog can present with several different symptoms, depending on severity. Some dogs will have excess itching, licking or scratching due to general skin irritation. In severe cases, hot spots will form. These areas will appear as hairless patches in your dog’s coat and may eventually transform into open, weeping sores.
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis . This condition is typically hereditary and involves an improper immune reaction leading to inflammation and damage in the skin and coat. Eczema is typically a symptom of an underlying allergy or reaction to fleas and occurs most often in the summer months.
Diagnosis of eczema in your dog will begin with a thorough veterinary exam. Eczema is typically confirmed by ruling out other similar conditions. Your vet will check your dog’s ears, coat, skin and may also take a blood sample to rule out underlying conditions. A skin scraping may also be examined.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Eczema?
Treatment of hot spots or eczema in your dog will begin with a thorough cleaning of the affected area. Individual breakouts should be kept clean and dry. Next, your vet will prescribe generalized anti-inflammatory medications. These will keep inflammation and itching to a minimum. Itching and irritation may trigger the outbreak of additional hot spots and perpetuate your pooch’s condition.
Next, your vet may write a prescription for antibiotics which will help treat any infections that may be present. Finally, you will need to treat the underlying condition(s) that’s causing the eczema or allergies. This may involve prescription medications and eliminating certain foods from your dog’s diet in order reduce potential allergens.
How is Eczema Similar in Dogs and Humans?
Like in humans, hot spots or eczema in your dog can cause Fido a great deal of irritation. The irritation caused by your body’s immune response is often hard to resist scratching, which can make an individual outbreak much worse. You probably spend a great deal of time researching and applying special medicines to help treat your eczema. Your furry friends need the same kind of attention in order to help successfully control the symptoms and keep up a good quality of life.
How is Eczema Different in Dogs and Humans?
While eczema generally occurs all over the body in humans, in dogs the individual outbreaks are typically localized to the head and neck. This is because these areas are easily reached by scratching paws, which can create a stimulant for the hot spots to open up. Also, your dog’s fur can make treating eczema difficult as their protective coat often retains oils, dust, and dirt more efficiently and can also pick up pollen and other outdoors allergens very easily.
The typical case of eczema in your dog will begin gradually. At first you may notice your precious pooch shaking their head or ears more often. Perhaps they are rubbing their face against you or furniture or chewing on their feet, all of which may indicate an underlying allergy. The next step will be excess scratching of the neck, shoulders and behind the ears. Eventually one of these areas may open up into a hot spot. It will be important to have this examined by a vet in severe cases to prevent additional infections. Keeping the area clean and moist and working to control the underlying allergy or other irritating condition will help make life more carefree for both you and your dog.