Skin

The Bulldog Standard

"The skin should be soft and loose, especially at the head, neck and shoulders.
Wrinkles and Dewlap -- The head and face should be covered with heavy wrinkles, and at the throat, from jaw to chest, there should be two loose pendulous folds, forming the dewlap."

One of the most common canine conditions leading to veterinary visits is itching, scratching and biting the skin.  Dermatitis can have several causes and can vary in severity.  However, with routine skin care and careful observation of your dog, you can minimize  the impact of skin issues on your dog's health.

If he is allergic, you have to be especially careful, since an allergic attack sometimes also produce respiratory problems.  If allergies are identified, it would be good to have your Vet recommend medications to treat an acute allergic attack.

As mentioned under Breathing, Just like people, dogs can develop allergies.  If the dog breaks out in welts or looks as though he has hives he is probably having an allergic reaction.  Dogs may be allergic to a variety of substances, including lawn grasses, chemicals, bug bites, food ingredients, medication and dust.  You have to identify the specific cause to treat it.  Treatment usually can ameliorate the problem, but rarely cure it.  Avoidance of the allergy inducing substance is crucial for treatment.

This is a weeping sore or moist dermatitis associated with hair loss. It can result from the dog's scratching itself continually. You need to catch this quickly, since it can rapidly spread over the dog's coat. Treatment consists of shaving and thoroughly cleaning the effected area and applying a topical antibiotic and anti-itch powder or ointment. A drying agent, like hydrogen peroxide, may be beneficial. After bathing the effected area, application of a hydro-cortisone cream is helpful. Recovery is usually fast. If the dog is in severe pain, tranquilizers may be helpful. If the dog can reach the effected area, an Elizabethan collar can be used to prevent licking or biting the sores.

An unbalanced diet or one that does not provide the right balance of nutritional ingredients, can lead to a dry tichy coat in dogs.  Be sure that the food you feed your dog meets its nutritional requirements.  In some cases, a supplement may be needed if your dog food does not provide the right balance of nutrients.

Fleas, which feed on blood, are the most common parasites on dogs. The presence of fleas can be observed from black and white flecks about the size of grains of sand in your dog's coat. The white are eggs and the black are flea feces. Of course, you may also see the fleas. Flea eggs incubate on your rugs and furniture, so if there are fleas, you should have your entire house professionally treated to eliminate the problem.
A temporary infestation which is quickly caught can be handled by spraying, dips, use of a flea collar, or flea powders. We do not use flea collars because of the danger the dog could chew each other's and poison themselves. This is not a problem in an only dog household. Dips and sprays are quick, effective and long lasting. You must treat both the dog and the environment or the problem will only reoccur. Once the fleas are eliminated, they are are monthly medications which can successfully keep your dog flea free.
Some dogs are allergic to the flea's saliva and develop a rash and itching. Since fleas tend to gather around the tail, you may notice your dog scooting or backing up against things to rub his bottom on. Cortisone treatment by a Vet, coupled with dipping and use of topical antibiotics is effective in treating the allergic reaction.
Ticks live in wooded areas from Spring until mid-Summer (depending on the weather). Adult ticks attach themselves to you dog for two to four days of feeding on their blood. You should check for ticks daily if your dog is outside, especially in wooded areas. In bad seasons, you may find 10 to 20 ticks on your dog each day.
Ticks carry many diseases, among which are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease, which can affect both animals and man. Therefore, you should remove ticks quickly and safely. The tick can be killed by applying alcohol or fingernail polish directly to it with a cotton swab. After several minutes, it will die and be ready for removal. Grasp the dead tick with a tissue as close to the skin as possible and apply steady pressure until it comes loose. In more rural areas, where severe tick problems are more prevalent, sprays or dips can be used. Be sure to treat the dog's sleeping quarters when you treat him. As with any poison, read the label carefully and seek your Vet's advice on treatment.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite. Your dog will scratch and bite at himself consistently. Scabs, crusting areas and hair loss are common. There are several dips which will control the problem. Your Vet can give you cortisone to control the itching and you can use Panalog to soothe the infected area.

Demodectic mange is caused by mites which live in hair follicles and feed on sebum. Since sebum production increases at puberty, it is most prevalent at that time. Most dogs have these mites without exhibiting any symptoms. Susceptibility to the disease appears to be genetically transmitted.  It occurs more frequently in young dogs and dogs under stress.   It causes the loss of hair and a spotty looking coat, with no signs of itching. In severe cases, the skin first becomes red, thickened and scaly. It then becomes oily and begins to smell. This should be treated quickly. There are both topical and systemic treatments for this. You should consult your Vet for the right remedy. With appropriate treatment, you dog can be free of this disease.

Infectious dermatitis --  This disease can be caused by bacterial, fungal or yeast organisms.  One type is Ringworm which gets its name from the appearance - a red ring at the margin of a rapidly spreading ring of hair loss. It is not cause by a worm, but a fungus living on the skin.  Microscopic examination of skin scrapings and fungus cultures is best for diagnosis. For minor infections, the hair should be clipped away from the effected area and the area bathed with Betadine shampoo or whatever your Vet prescribes. More severe cases can be handled with prescription drugs.