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One of the more concerning and most visually distinctive symptoms of a developing illness in canines is a rash. This can be a simple patch of redness on the skin or it can take the form of a multitude of raised bumps, hives or blisters that may be painful or itchy. While a simple rash may seem relatively inconsequential and most will clear up without needing any real treatment, it can be the first sign of a health condition that may require veterinary attention.
Oftentimes, the appearance of a patch of irritating skin can be a sign of allergy or infection, and can worsen if left untreated. A dog that has developed a rash will usually start to scratch profusely in order to soothe any itching, possibly damaging the skin in the process. Because of this, it is wise to seek a second opinion from a vet.
Causes And Prevention Of Rashes in Dogs
Irritants – One of the typically less serious potential causes of a rash is a dog coming into contact with a skin irritant. The vast majority of these are natural and can be found in plants such as stinging nettles or ragweed. Once your dog touches the plant, they will develop a localized rash around the point of contact, which may blister and feel itchy for a few hours before clearing up after a day or so.
More dangerous, however, are irritants found in plants such as the giant hogweed, which can be incredibly painful and even impact your dog’s behavior, making them lethargic or even aggressive if somebody tries to touch them. Worse still, are chemical irritants found in many household cleaning products that may be left within easy reach of your dog.
To prevent your pup from being harmed by these substances, there are several things you can do. The first is to remove any poisonous plants from the property, which will stop your dog from coming into contact with the plant. The second is to avoid letting your furry companion off their leash in areas with high concentrations of potentially dangerous plants. Lastly and most importantly, store dangerous chemicals securely, as any energetic or bored dog can get into a cupboard and knock over a bottle of detergent or cleaning fluid.
Parasites – Irritation from various parasitic organisms that live both inside a dog and on the outside of the skin can result in a rash. The most obvious form is ‘mange’, a clump of dead skin, dried blood and oils that become stuck in the fur. This usually happens as a result of the activity of fleas or mites that cause extensive damage to the skin and accelerate the shedding process as they feed upon your dog. A rash can also appear as a result of worms, with roundworm being the most common as it grows just beneath the skin and will often cause irritation.
To combat parasites, vaccines and preventative medication can be prescribed by the vet. As well, check your pet periodically for fleas and ticks, especially after a trek in the woods or visit to the dog park.
Allergies – Just as humans can suffer from coughing and sneezing during springtime and may break out in hives or swell up when exposed to certain foods, dogs can also be sensitive to some substances. The skin is typically the first place that shows evidence of an allergic reaction in canines. Redness, inflammation, and itchiness can indicate an allergy. Contact with allergens like grass or pollen can cause the skin to react. The ears are another area of the body that can be affected; infection is commonly seen.
To prevent allergies from developing, there are several things that can be done. The first is to remove the allergens. While this is almost impossible with common plant allergies, you can reduce the likelihood of irritation by wiping down your pet's feet and body when they come inside after a walk. In regards to food, an elimination trial can pinpoint an ingredient in commercial kibble.
Infections – Skin inflammation is also a frequent symptom of a localized infection of the area. This will often be bacterial or fungal in nature. Fungal infections are typically the result of hygiene, making them the easiest to defend against, as simply washing your dog regularly and making sure that dirt is unable to accumulate in skin folds and in clumps of hair will prevent most spores from taking root.
Bacteria, however, are somewhat harder to deal with. Regularly checking your pooch for small wounds and making sure to properly disinfect any that are found is essential for preventing microbial infection. Additionally, preventing moisture from building up under the dog’s coat (especially in long-haired breeds) on a regular basis can prevent fungi and bacteria from taking hold and multiplying, as this environment is a perfect breeding ground for them.
Consult the Veterinarian
By understanding the causes of skin problems and how to prevent them, owners can avoid unnecessary discomfort and stress for their pups, along with costly veterinary bills. Consult your vet at any point that skin irritation is obvious. It is best to nip the problem in the bud before a serious skin condition occurs.