Dog seborrhea, also known as sherry or sebaceous dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects domestic dogs, such as golden retrievers, chihuahuas and Pomeranians. It can be caused by allergies or by other medical issues, such as hormonal imbalances or underlying infections.
Dog seborrhea usually appears as dandruff on the pet’s coat and might occur in patches or all over the body. The affected skin may become extremely dry and flaky, with obvious dandruff present on the pet’s fur or bald patches in areas where hair loss has occurred due to intense scratching. Redness and itchiness of the skin can also accompany dog seborrhea. Severe cases may cause a foul odor due to secondary bacterial infections of the skin.
What is seborrhea in dogs?
Seborrhea in dogs is an inflammatory skin condition that causes the skin to become dry, scaly, and itchy. It can also cause excessive shedding of fur and an unpleasant odor. Seborrhea commonly affects breeds such as Chihuahuas, West Highland White Terriers, Poodles, and Shih Tzus.
In most cases, seborrhea begins with greasy or flaky skin due to the presence of excessive amounts of oils (sebum) on the skin surface leading to clogged pores. This can cause bacteria and yeast overgrowth which leads to inflammation and irritation. As a result, your dog may scratch their skin excessively resulting in red irritated patches or bumps that may be uncomfortable for your pet. In severe cases these patches can ooze fluid or have a yellowish crusting of debris on the surface giving them a spotty appearance. Furthermore, hair loss and extreme dryness may occur making seborrhea more visually noticeable in some areas on your pet’s body than others.
Signs & Symptoms of Seborrhea in Dogs
Signs and symptoms of seborrhea in dogs are very easy to spot. One of the most common signs is excessive scaling, flaking and dandruff on the skin or hair coat. The affected areas are not necessarily limited to one area, as this condition can occur on multiple areas of the body. Additionally, the excessive scales can quickly worsen if not treated properly. In extreme cases, redness and thickening of the skin may be observed in dogs with a severe case of seborrhea.
Other more visible signs include oily patches on the fur flea cat collar and scaly spots that may have a yellowish hue. Dogs with severe seborrheic dermatitis may also experience intense itching and scratching which can lead to broken skin or even infections if left untreated for too long. Hair loss is also quite common in severe cases since many dogs will try to over-groom themselves due to the discomfort caused by this condition.
Causes of canine seborrhea
Canine seborrhea is a skin condition that is caused by overproduction of sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Common causes of canine seborrhea include allergies, poor nutrition, endocrine disorders, bacterial or fungal infections and genetics.
Allergies can be food-related or environmental. Allergic reactions to pollen, molds and dust mites contribute to skin irritation and overproduction of sebum that leads to canine seborrhea. Poor nutrition with inadequate levels of fatty acids, zinc and B vitamins can further exacerbate the problem.
Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism produce a hormonal imbalance that encourages excessive production of oil in the skin. Bacterial and fungal infections triggered by weakened immunity due to parasites are also known to cause canine seborrhea. Finally, some breeds such as West Highland white terriers are genetically predisposed to this condition because their coats are dense and oily.
Diagnosing seborrhea in dogs
Diagnosing seborrhea in dogs can be done through a simple physical examination of the animal. While there is no definitive test to tell whether or not a dog has seborrhea, the following steps can help to ensure that your pet is receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment:
1. Visual Examination – Your vet will look for signs of excessive oiliness or dryness on your dog’s skin, as well as any accompanying lesions caused by scratching or hair loss. This can help to rule out other causes of scalp disorders such as fungal infections or parasites.
2. Scrapings – Your vet might take scrapings from areas where there’s irritation and examine them under a microscope to detect yeast, bacteria, and mites which could be indications of seborrhea.
3. Skin Flakes Test – Your veterinarian may take samples of your dog’s skin flakes for diagnostic testing to determine if seborrhea is present in the sample.
These tests combined with a visual examination will give you and your vet an accurate diagnosis as well as peace of mind that your pup is receiving the right treatment plan to handle their affliction.
Treatments for dog seborrhea
Treating dog seborrhea can be tricky, so it’s important to start with the underlying cause and take steps to address it. Your veterinarian may suggest a combination of medicated shampoos and dietary changes.
Medicated shampoos and washes are typically the first line of defense against seborrhea. These may contain ingredients like sulfur, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, which help reduce oils on the skin that can make the condition worse.
In addition to medicated washes and shampoos, your veterinarian may also suggest you change your dog’s diet to one that is lower in fats. This is especially helpful if a food allergy is causing or contributing to your dog’s condition. You may also need to supplement their diet with fatty acids or other vitamins which can help restore balance to their skin.
Finally, in some cases antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary in order to fully treat dog seborrhea effectively.