The constant itchiness, the flaky skin, the sore, red patches --- these are all symptoms of psoriasis, one of the most common skin disorders found in human beings. Psoriasis causes cells to develop much more quickly than they normally would, resulting in itchy, dry, flaky skin.
Psoriasis is a persistent, nagging condition that many people struggle with on a daily basis. But what about dogs? Can dogs get psoriasis, too?
Can Dogs Get Psoriasis?
Yes, dogs can develop psoriasis just as people do, although it has only been rarely documented. Canines share many of the same symptoms that humans do, so, unfortunately, this means that psoriasis is just as uncomfortable and stressful a condition for dogs as it is for humans.
Canine psoriasis is the result of a compromised immune system that attacks healthy cells, causing cell abnormalities. These cells are overproduced by the body and form thick patches of skin cells on the surface of the body. The body’s response causes persistent itching to occur.
Read on to learn more about psoriasis in dogs and check out other skin conditions in Scaly Skin in Dogs.
Does My Dog Have Psoriasis?
Psoriasis occurs because of an abnormal accumulation of skin cells that cause rashes, flakiness, and itchiness on the surface of a dog’s skin. It has also been seen on the footpads.
If you suspect that your dog has psoriasis, look for any of the following symptoms:
Excessive dandruff and scaling
Development of scales that are silvery in color
Red and scaly patches on the scalp, sacral areas, the tips of elbows, and the legs
Bleeding and cracked skin
Scaly, sore footpads and reluctance to walk
Possibly, signs of arthritis
Environmental factors: allergies to shampoo, food, fabric, and more
Because canine psoriasis may be aggravated by a dog’s sensitivity to allergens, it’s worth investigating whether your dog is allergic to something in their immediate environment. Some dogs inherit genes that predispose them to psoriasis, so educating yourself about your dog’ breed can help in understanding why psoriasis happens.
How is a dog diagnosed with psoriasis? A veterinarian will look for scaly, dry, red or silver patches of skin that are a source of itching, or that are bleeding and cracked because of excessive itching by your dog. The vet may also take a sample of your dog’s skin to examine under a microscope to determine if further testing is necessary.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Psoriasis?
Your veterinarian can prescribe the treatment and approach that will help your dog cope with the effects of canine psoriasis. Studies have shown that the few recorded cases of psoriasis responded well to the same medications that are used in humans. It is important to understand that psoriasis is not curable, but it can be controlled.
Topical therapies, including Vitamin D analogs (synthetic Vitamin D applied to the skin) and corticosteroids, have shown to be effective in canines just as they are in humans. Pain, inflammation, and arthritis are treated with medication. Follow the regimen prescribed by your dog's vet to see the best results.
Discuss the change of your dog’s diet to help ease canine psoriasis. Feeding your dog a diet of unprocessed, natural foods can eliminate any allergic reactions that may aggravate psoriasis. Avoid foods heavy in processing that contain more filler than substance (meat by-products, sugars, cornmeal, flour) and feed your dog a food low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.
Dietary supplements may also help control canine psoriasis. Supplements that help support immune function include the following:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acids
Additionally, dogs who spend lots of time outside tend to have higher Vitamin D levels and don’t have as many skin disorders as dogs who are inside most of the time. Vitamin D supports healthy skin and tissue, so plan to get your dog outside more frequently.
How is Psoriasis Similar in Dogs and Humans?
The causes and symptoms of canine psoriasis and human psoriasis are nearly identical. The similarity in causes can be found in regards to compromised immune systems, excess cell creation, allergies, and possible genetic disposition. As for symptoms, dogs and people with psoriasis both suffer from excessive and persistent itchiness, flaky scaling, red, scaly skin patches, and the development of silver or red colored scales.
How is Psoriasis Different in Dogs and Humans?
The greatest difference in canine and human psoriasis is that human psoriasis manifests itself in a variety of ways and affects people at certain ages. The human psoriasis that is most similar to canine psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. People can also be diagnosed with psoriasis in childhood (Guttate) and adulthood (Pustular) as well as Inverse psoriasis (red, scaly skin in armpit and groin areas) and the very rare Erythrodermic psoriasis (covers large sections of the body at one time). People are also prone to experiencing symptoms of swollen, painful joints and pitted, thick nails from psoriasis.
An owner notices that her dog has been itching and scratching more often than usual. She examines her dog’s fur and skin and sees areas where the skin is flaky, red, and scaly. There are even a few areas where the dog has scratched so much, the skin has bled. The veterinarian examines the dog and suspects psoriasis. Skin samples are acquired and reviewed under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. The veterinarian works with the owner to come to a solution. Medication and topical therapy are prescribed. The vet also advises a change in diet and added dietary supplements. The combination of care keeps the psoriasis under control.