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Dogs and Eczema

 by danielle on 16 Aug 2014 |
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Eczema is a symptom rather than a disease itself. It is a general term applied to the inflammation of the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. The appearance of redness, hair loss, papules, pustules, weeping skin sores, crusting, scaling and dryness are all indicators your dog is suffering from the condition.
Due to its definition as a symptom, eczema has many different potential causes. Inflammation may result from exposure to chemical substances, vegetation, food allergens, dust, humidity and insect bites. It may also be a symptom of infections with viral, bacterial, fungal or yeast-based origins. In other cases, self-trauma, such as repeated licking, bitting, chewing, scratching or rubbing, due to stress or lice or flea infestation is the cause.
Dogs who live predominately outdoors are the most likely to be effected by the condition, which is exacerbated by humidity, adverse weather conditions and seasonal plant growth. Eczema typically strongly effects the areas least protected by a dog’s coat, such as the feet, chin, nose, hocks, stifles and belly. 
Diagnosis can be achieved by a quick visual inspection, however treatment of eczema can be difficult due to the range of potential causes. Consultation with a veterinarian can be necessary to isolate the most likely causes. If food allergens are suspected, supervised trials in which food groups are eliminated to see if symptoms subsist are the best way of determining precisely which are the ‘problem’ foods.
Possible parasites causing the issue can be identified through physical examination and skin sampling. Bacterial and fungal culture tests and microscopic examination of hair can also be used to discover organisms that may be responsible for eczema. If the latter is determined as the cause, your vet will usually prescribe specialised medications.
If a dog is self-mutilating and parasites are not a factor, behavioural intervention is necessary. Stress, boredom and loneliness can all result in a dog obsessively licking and causing painful skin irritation. The solutions are increased exercise and socialisation potentially used in conjunction with canine anti-stress medication in severe cases.

Until the root cause can be determined and eliminated, reduction of discomfort for an affected dog is the goal. Soothing creams and gels exist tailored to the problem that are non-toxic if the dog licks the area following application, and should be used until the eczema disappears. 




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