Golden retrievers are susceptible to dog skin problems. Learn the symptoms of canine allergies, hot spots, and other golden retriever skin health concerns.

It’s hard to deny the beauty of a golden retriever’s coat. But it can be hiding one of many skin problems in dogs, including hot spots and skin conditions related to parasites. Fortunately, most skin problems in golden retrievers are treatable. Knowing what to look for, however, is critical.

Below are some of the most common skin disorders of golden retrievers along with symptoms. While regular brushing and grooming will help keep a golden’s skin healthy, some dog skin problems are unavoidable and can become harmful. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant and seek veterinarian care at the first sign of trouble.

Canine Allergies – Itching in Dogs

Like many breeds, golden retrievers can suffer from exposure to allergens, including pollens and certain foods. The main symptom of canine allergies is itching, which is not only uncomfortable but can lead to eczema and secondary infections. Although food allergies are less common than other allergies, they still cause itching in dogs as well as diarrhea.

Hot Spots – a Common Skin Disorder of Golden Retriever Dogs

Hot spots on dogs (also called acute moist dermatitis) are swollen, inflamed patches that can be painful, itchy, and sometimes pus-filled. They are very common in goldens due to their thick undercoats, especially if they remain damp. Hot spots can be treated at home by gently washing the area with an oatmeal-based shampoo and blowing it dry, but severe cases need a vet’s attention.

Hot Spots – a Common Skin Disorder of Golden Retriever Dogs

Hot Spots – a Common Skin Disorder of Golden Retriever Dogs

Canine Seborrhea – Primary and Secondary Dog Skin Problems

Golden retrievers are prone to two types of canine seborrhea. It can either be hereditary, which can be managed rather than cured, or caused by another condition, such as hypothyroidism or allergies. Canine seborrhea usually presents as flaky, scaly, and/or greasy skin with a distinct “doggy” odor, as well as extreme licking and itching in dogs.

Ringworm in Dogs – Needs Immediate Attention

Ringworm is a fungus rather than a worm that may be carried from an infected dog to a human, or vice versa. Ringworm attacks the outer layer of skin and causes itching in dogs, redness, and scabbing. Prompt treatment for ringworm is vital.

Canine Mange – Two Notable Skin Disorders in Dogs

Canine mange is caused by mites and comes in two forms. Sarcoptic mange, an intensely itchy skin condition, is characterized by small bumps, bloody sores, and/or crusts on the tips of the ears, abdomen, elbows, and hocks.

Demodectic mange is harder to detect because it may only present with a few small patches or slight hair loss and itching in dogs. Still, it can be difficult to cure, especially cases involving the feet.

Fleas and Ticks – Parasites That Affect a Golden Retriever’s Skin Health

Fleas are a common parasite in all dogs, not just goldens. Like canine allergies and mange, fleas cause a great deal of itching in dogs. They appear as bits of brown dust or fast-moving brown shapes on the skin. Flea shampoos and topical treatments are available, but fleas hop around and can infest other animals and parts of the home. Quick and thorough treatment is needed.

Unlike fleas, ticks on goldens don’t necessarily cause symptoms, but they can leave large scabs or worse, cause serious tick diseases if not removed promptly. Treating a golden retriever with a topical tick repellent and checking its coat and skin daily will help alleviate skin disorders associated with ticks.

Fleas and Ticks – Parasites That Affect a Golden Retriever’s Skin Health

Fleas and Ticks – Parasites That Affect a Golden Retriever’s Skin Health

Lumps and Bumps – Benign Skin Problems in Dogs or Canine Skin Cancer?

A skin lump or bump on a golden retriever can be anything from a pimple to canine skin cancer, so any new growth that’s concerning or doesn’t go away should be checked. Benign lesions include acne, cysts, abscesses, papillomas (wart-like bumps) and lipomas (fatty tumors). Benign lumps often don’t require treatment unless they cause discomfort to the dog.

Although dogs can develop basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma skin cancers, a mast cell tumor is among the most common canine skin cancers of golden retrievers. More prevalent in senior dogs, mast cell tumors appear as small, firm, raised masses with well-defined borders. They might be reddened, hairless, and ulcerated and can grow large or become an area of thickened skin. As with any cancer, early detection offers the best outcome.

Unfortunately, skin problems are common in golden retriever dogs, despite (and sometimes because of) their great coats. But luckily, treatments are available for most dog skin conditions. Even better, regular grooming and attention can alleviate skin problems and help ensure a golden retriever’s health – and happiness.

Dogs 101 – Golden Retriever


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  • Merck Veterinary Manual
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  • Sucher, Jaime. Golden Retrievers: A Complete Pet Owners Manual. Hauppauge, NY: Barrons, 2000.