Skin Problems in Dogs-III

This post will be the last in the series of Skin problems in Dogs. It covers:

  • Neurogenic
  • Infectious

Neurogenic Skin Problems

As the name suggests, this type of skin disorder suggest something induced, controlled and/or modified by nervous factors. This disorder is characterized by persistent/ obsessive licking of one particular spot. Your dog may seem fixated on one part of his body and his intention would be keep chewing on it, destroying the cells around relentlessly until a sore gets developed.  Your pet would basically not allow the skin to heal. Medically, it is termed as Acral Lick Dermatitis or Lick Granuloma.

Dog Licking self

This kind of obsessive licking is usually noticed at easily accessible areas such as the limbs and ankle.

Causes for Neurogenic Skin disorders have been identified as:

  • Boredom/ Loneliness
  • Separation anxiety
  • Being confined
  • Not enough exercise
  • Very little human interaction

As you can see, all the above causes may lead to some stress levels in your pet. When a dog is used to a particular level of activity and that gets reduced either because of anxiety or longer durations of being alone in the house, boredom may set in and he may resort to unstoppable licking.  Similarly, confinement by keeping him locked in a kennel/cage for hours or tied up leads could lead to similar results.

Self Mutilated Patch

When getting a dog, make sure you know your limitations. Set the rules keeping in mind that he is going to be around you for may more years to come. Decide where you want to allow him and where he isn’t allowed. Get him used to that from his puppy days.

If you are going to be housing your pet in a kennel, stress of new place and dogs in close proximity may also bring about Lick Granuloma. Your pet may undergo separation anxiety and hours of confinement which would result in keeping himself occupied by self licking and often leading to self mutilation.  Make sure, the kennel in which your pet is going to be housed has enough play time, exercise time and personal interaction allocated for each dog on a daily basis.

Before you treat your dog for Neurogenic skin problem, try and identify what could be the possible cause for the emotional distress. Most often than not the solution lies in spending a  right amount of “quality time” with your pooch and giving him the much needed attention.

10 minute activity for you and your pets:

  • Try and not  talk on the mobile when you are taking him for a walk. Make him feel that you are out with him.
  • Groom him for 10 minutes everyday– brush him, massage  him
  • Is he a medium/large breed dog– rough him up. Play tug of war with a cloth toy, wrestle with him. He’ll love it and he’ll make sure you’ll love it too
  • Run around your garden or house for 10 mins and see your dog running behind you to catch you. When he does catch you, reward him sufficiently.

A pet who is exercised well, loved by all in the family will never get bored and feel lonely. In extreme cases, where the licking and self mutilation becomes an obsessive habit, behaviour modification sessions can be undertaken with trained canine behaviour specialist.

Infectious Dermatitis

These skin disorders basically talk about any fungal, bacterial or yeast organisms leading to skin and coat related problems. This type is more or less a combination of all the earlier 5 infections that we have spoken about.

  • Fungal organisms (called dermatophytes) are parasitic organisms- the most common being the ringworm. Fungal infections are transmissible by direct or indirect contact with the host. There is an increased susceptibility when the pet has a pre existing injury such as wound or a scab on the skin. Most often, the dog’s immune system deals with this fungal infection. Clinical signs such as respiration problems, enlarged lymph nodes are observed.

    Yeast ear infection

  • Yeast infections also affect an already infected skin. An infected skin responds by releasing histamine (a substance that plays a major role in many allergic reactions) and this triggers of further itching and skin inflammation. Yeast infections are characterized by smelly and greasy patches. At times, the skin may also blacken.  Yeast infections may also affect the dogs ears. Also, they are mostly secondary infections as in there is usually some primary infection like nutritional disorder already present in the dog.
  • Bacterial Dermatitis is also a secondary infection. Dogs with existing skin damage due to parasites or any environmental factors have a high chance of developing a bacterial infection as the skin allows the invasion and affects the body’s healing defense mechanism. This infection is characterized by moist, sticky inflamed skin lesions coupled with hair loss. This infection also spreads rapidly through biting, licking and scratching of previously uninfected areas.

Treatment- Infectious dermatitis is often air dried. By clipping the hair around the lesions, allow the skin direct exposure to air. Gentle topical creams- anti fungal & anti-bacterial are available. Yeast supplements are available  in the market. So check with your vet and get the treatment started.