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?
Dogs can indeed develop psoriasis just as people do, and they share many of the same symptoms associated with this skin disorder. 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. The most common type of psoriasis in dogs is scalp psoriasis.
If you suspect that your dog has psoriasis, look for any of the following symptoms:
Excessive dandruff and scaling
Red and scaly patches on the scalp, sacral areas, the tips of elbows, and the legs
Development of scales that are silvery in color
Environmental factors: allergies to shampoo, food, fabric, etc.
Because canine psoriasis can arise due to a dog’s sensitivity to allergens, it’s worth investigating whether your dog is allergic to something in his 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?
There are multiple methods you can employ to treat canine psoriasis in your pup, but a process that is inclusive in dealing with both the topical and internal issues that cause psoriasis produces the best results.
First, you can apply topical creams and shampoos to your dog’s skin and coat. Products that contain coal tar or sulphur can help calm the skin’s irritation and itchiness. Potassium permanganate or primrose oil solutions may assist in clearing up the sore skin patches and making them less itchy.
You can also change your dog’s diet to help ease or prevent canine psoriasis. Feeding your dog a diet of unprocessed, natural foods can eliminate any allergic reactions that may cause psoriasis. Avoid foods heavy in processing that contain more filler than substance (i.e., meat by-products, sugars, corn meal, flour) and feed your dog a food low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.
Dietary supplements can also help control, contain, or eliminate 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 you might just need 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 determine possible causes for the condition and advises a change in diet and added dietary supplements. The owner is also given specialized shampoo to help calm her dog’s skin and alleviate the itching. Weeks later, the condition has cleared up, and the dog is no longer in discomfort.