My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs. What is the cause and treatment? Feb 10, 2019

My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs. What is the cause and treatment?

Original Question: My dog from the past 5-6 months has been shedding its coat a lot. She has flaky skin that creates patches all around her coat. - Rahul

Hi Rahul,

Thanks for your question.

The first thing you need to do is figure out why this is happening. It’s impossible for anyone to simply look at your dog and know what the exact cause is. You may have already tried some treatments, but if they didn’t work, it doesn’t mean they were wrong. It could be that the dose or duration of the prescription was not accurate, or the condition may be caused by multiple reasons.

I recommend you have your veterinarian perform some diagnostics to identify the cause which will let them create an effective treatment plan. The first test would be a skin scraping. This is a quick, inexpensive test that is performed in the clinic whereby your dog’s skin is scraped with a scalpel and the material collected is looked at under a microscope. This test can identify ectoparasites on the skin, bacteria, and yeast along with other entities. If the hair loss has a circular pattern, I would recommend that your veterinarian perform a fungal culture to look for ringworm. A test that is not performed often enough is a culture and sensitivity, whereby your veterinarian will swab the skin and send the sample to a lab that will grow the bacteria on the skin and expose it to different antibiotics to determine which ones will kill it. If these tests do not identify the problem, the final diagnostic I would recommend is a skin biopsy. In most cases this series of tests should determine the cause.

Less likely but still possible is that there is an internal medical condition occurring which is causing these symptoms. You could consider performing blood work and urine testing to evaluate if there are any metabolic conditions or other impairments occurring that could contribute to this.

If you are looking to avoid a visit to your veterinarian and the associated costs, there is general therapy you can perform. I have no way of knowing whether this treatment will work since I cannot examine or test your pet, but it won’t cause harm. This may work if the cause is related to an infectious agent however if they were present, you would typically find your dog itching as well and you don’t mention that in your question. You could ask your veterinarian for an antibiotic or anti-fungal shampoo. You can lather it on, leave it in place for 5-10 minutes, then rinse well and dry very thoroughly. Do not allow your pet to stay wet as this can help bacteria to spread. You can repeat this daily or every other day for a week or two. If the condition is improving, then you can continue and end the treatment a week after after all lesions have resolved. If within a day or two, there is no improvement, I would recommend you visit your veterinarian for a consultation and physical examination while considering the tests I’ve already mentioned. You could also consider administering an omega-3 fatty acid product that you can find a pet supply store which can improve skin and hair coat health. And again, I do not know if this will be sufficient but it is inexpensive, safe and could resolve some of the common conditions that can cause these symptoms.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs. What is the cause and treatment?
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My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs. What is the cause and treatment?
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I recommend you have your veterinarian perform some diagnostics to identify the cause which will let them create an effective treatment plan. The first test would be a skin scraping. This is a quick, inexpensive test where your dog’s skin is scraped and the material collected is looked at under a microscope.
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Healthcare for Pets
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