Skin parasites can cause a dog to itch, scratch, leading to skin sores, a canine skin infection, and dry, flaky skin in dogs. Learn the signs of skin parasites in dogs.
Skin parasites like fleas, mites, and other tiny organisms are a common source of skin problems in dogs, such as flaky, dry skin and itching. Skin parasites can also lead to chronic skin infections, canine skin sores, and patches of fur loss in dogs and other pets.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to treat most types of skin parasites in dogs using medicated shampoos and medications like Ivermectin.
Here are some of the 5 most common symptoms of skin parasites in dogs:
Itchy Skin and Frequent Scratching
Itchy, flaky skin is among the most common symptoms of skin parasites in dogs. Many skin parasites that affect dogs, like fleas, bite the skin, and the saliva from the parasite triggers an allergic reaction in the skin that results in frequent itching. Other parasites – like scabies – burrow into the skin, causing intense itching.
A dog who is frequently itching may also be suffering from the dryness, scaling, flaking and other damage to the skin’s surface that’s usually associated with skin parasites.
Skin Sores and Scabs
A dog who is frequently scratching and itching his skin will create tiny scrapes in the skin’s surface. Frequent scratching and bacteria on the dog’s nails and feet introduce bacteria into the small scrapes on the dog’s skin, leading to pockets of skin infection that develop into canine skin sores and “hot spots.” These sores on the dog’s skin often turn into scabs and the sores are often difficult to heal. Many dogs with skin sores that result from skin parasites require antibiotics in order to promote healing.
Skin Scaling, Dandruff, White Flakes or Black Dirt-Like Dots on the Dog’s Skin
Owners of dogs who frequently scratch and itch often make the mistake of over-bathing a dog and this can lead to dry skin and dandruff. But dandruff, flaky skin and white flakes on the dog’s skin can also be associated with a specific type of skin parasite that’s often called “walking dandruff.” The cheyletiella mite will appear as a flake of dandruff to the naked eye, but when magnified under a microscope, the cheyletiella mite actually looks like a little spider.
Scaling on the dog’s skin can also be associated with skin parasites like demodectic mange, while tiny black particles on the skin’s surface are commonly associated with fleas in dogs. These black particles often look like dirt, but when placed on a damp paper towel, the black particles (which are actually flea feces) will melt into little spots of blood.
Skin Redness and Inflammation
Scarpotic mange, also known as scabies, is a prime source of widespread skin redness, the inflamed skin over wide areas of a dog’s body, and other symptoms like severe scratching and itching, sores on the dog’s skin, and widespread hair loss. Infection is often associated with scabies, since the scarpotic mange mites actually burrow into the skin, introducing bacteria. The dog’s reaction to scabies – scratching and itching the skin – introduces even more bacteria, worsening the skin infection, inflammation, and redness.
Smaller, more localized patches of skin redness and inflammation can be associated with sores that have become seriously infected and with fungal infections like Ringworm.
Hair Loss, Thin Fur, Dull Fur, and Coarse Fur
Constant scratching causes the dog’s fur to break off, creating patches of hair loss on the dog’s body. A dog with skin infections and skin sores will also sustain skin scarring and damage to the hair follicles, which also results in bald, hairless patches on the dog’s body.
Some skin parasites, like demodectic mange – also known as demadex – live inside the hair follicle and pores. The mite damages the hair follicle, causing thin fur on the dog’s head, chest and other regions.
When the hair follicle is damaged due to skin parasites, this causes the individual hairs to become coarse and the coat will take on a rough, dull appearance.
A dog with hair loss may have bald patches or the entire coat may thin – it all depends on the exact type of skin parasite that’s affecting the dog.
If an owner suspects that their dog may have skin parasites, a vet visit will be required for a diagnosis. Diagnosing skin parasites in dogs usually involves an examination of the dog’s skin and coat, along with a skin scraping procedure where the very outer layer of skin cells are scraped away and viewed under a microscope. Once it’s determined what type of skin parasites a dog is suffering from, the veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate treatment.