Skin Health

Common Problems, Spring

Skin conditions are one of the most common issues we see across our clinics and can cause significant discomfort for your pet. We usually see an increase in cases during the warmer months from Spring though summer when allergies are more prone, and our pets are spending more time outside. Skin problems can also indicate an underlying health condition that might not have previously been diagnosed.

Best Mates Members don’t forget to book your best mate in for their FREE Skin Health Check. 

Dogs can suffer from mild to severe skin conditions, many of which require veterinary intervention before they get any worse. If skin disease is left untreated the condition can often become more complicated. An allergic skin reaction, for example, may become secondarily infected with bacteria, or a bacterial infection may then become infected with yeast. Some of the most common skin disorders in dogs include bacterial skin infections, environmental allergies and parasite allergies.

So let’s start with the symptoms that something might be up with your dogs skin and while we are at it take a closer look at the underlying structure. 

Symptoms of skin conditions

Itching is one of the most obvious signs your dog has a skin condition, but it’soften difficult to determine exactly what’s irritating your dog without a veterinary examination. While it is quite normal for a dog to occasionally itch, just like a person may occasionally scratch their skin, frequent or prolonged itching is a tell-tale sign of something going on.

Other common symptoms of a skin or hair coat condition include:

  • Excessive scaling, either in fine particles (dandruff) or sheets (coarse scale)
  • Dry, rough patches of flaking skin
  • Greasy accumulation of skin cells on the skin’s surface
  • Excessive itchiness, evident by scratching, rubbing, rolling, licking, chewing, head shaking, or scooting
  • Hair follicles blocked up with oil and skin cells
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Moist, red sores under the hair coat
  • Pimple-like pustules on the skin
  • Crusted skin
  • Red or irritated skin
  • Scabs
  • Hot spots, or localised areas your dog keeps itching/biting
  • Infected hair follicles
  • Hair standing on end
  • Seeping of blood or pus
  • Swelling or ulcerated skin
  • Unpleasant odour
  • Irritated areas secreting pus

Five Facts About Itchy Skin

Itching is not a disease

It’s a clinical sign, and every effort should be made to find the cause, not just treat. Skin diseases can be very challenging to diagnose and treat. This may result in some tests that seem a bit confusing to you:

  • Skin scrapings
  • Skin biopsies
  • Blood tests to check for hormonal diseases (such as thyroid deficiency)
  • Allergy testing and trial treatments

If you’re confused by any of the testing, ask your Fur Life Vet to clarify.

Itching may not be a skin problem at all

There are a myriad of things that can initiate itching or “pruritus.” Causes can be primary skin diseases or secondary to problems not directly associated with the skin.

Parasites that can cause itching are not always visible to the naked eye

Common causes of itching are parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites; many external parasites are not visible to the naked eye. Mites and lice are very tiny and often live below the surface of the skin. Sometimes mites are not found, even if they are suspected. Your veterinarian may elect to treat them, even if the mites are not found.

Itching caused by infection may have varied clinical appearances

Infections of the skin are a common cause of itching. Infectious causes of itching often involve the hair follicles (Folliculitis). While some cases of such skin infections produce obvious pimples, some produce only a minor rash and can be difficult to prove. They may require trial treatments with antibiotics or even biopsies to identify.

Itching caused by allergies can be topical, dietary or inhaled

Allergies are often suspected based on the breed and age of a pet, as well as the localization of the itching (face, feet, armpits, etc.). Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may try oral or injectable medications, blood or skin tests to look for the cause or may try a restricted diet to demonstrate the allergy. Consultation with a veterinary dermatologist may be beneficial.


Check your pet regularly for symptoms.

  • Take notes or keep a diary
  • Try and identify when your dog started to show symptoms
  • Note if the reaction appears to be at a specific time or after a specific activity such as eating.
  • Do symptoms appear at certain times of the year like Spring or Autumn?
  • Does your dog itch after you have cleaned the house or worked in the garden?
  • The information you provide your Fur Life Vet is vital to reaching an accurate and fast diagnosis.

The most common canine skin conditions

Environmental allergies

A sudden onset of itching particularly to the face, feet, chest and stomach can indicate an environmental allergy, triggered as and when your dog is in contact with the cause of irritation.

This particular type of allergy in dogs is called ‘Atopy’ and is similar to how people have hay fever – except that dogs show it by having irritated, itchy skin rather than watery eyes and sneezing.

A blood test can help diagnose whether your pet is allergic to grass, dust mites and pollens, which are some of the most common things dogs are allergic to. Treating environmental allergies can be difficult and in the most severe cases involve shampoo’s, tablets and injections. Over recent years, there have been some new drugs which have revolutionised the care of dogs with this disease and a combination of treatments can help ease your pet’s symptoms effectively.

Food allergies

Increased itching often involving the face, feet, ears and anus are signs of a potential dog food allergy. Dogs can develop food allergies from the type of protein consumed as part of their diet such as beef, eggs, chicken and dairy, although it can be anything in the diet such as wheat or even vegetables.

Like humans, who experience food intolerances, pets must go through an elimination process for 8-12 weeks to rule out any causes of the allergies. Your vet will advise you step by step on this type of treatment. It is vital that you refrain from introducing your dog to any of the suspected allergens during the elimination process to ensure an effective treatment process.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks affect your dog’s skin by biting and sucking their blood. Flea saliva enters the body and can cause an allergic response which irritates your pet’s skin, causing them to itch profusely. Pets suffering from a severe parasite allergy experience symptoms of inflamed, red skin, will often scratch and dogs may chew at their fur to relieve the itching. In extreme conditions, their fur can fall out in patches.

Fleas are tiny parasites which can survive in our carpets and bedding, which is why it’s so important to vacuum regularly, wash your pet’s bed and make sure they’re up-to-date with their preventative treatments to kill off any bugs.

Yeast infections

Warm areas on a dog’s body attract yeast infections, which love to grow in hard to reach areas, such as the ear canal, in between your dog’s toes, groin and perineum. Dogs with exccessive wrinkles can also suffer from yeast infections between the folds of skin.  

The skin can thicken, causing your dog to itch and bite at the infected area. Yeast infections can discolour the skin and tend to smell unpleasant: a topical cream, washes and tablets will help to relieve the symptoms and help cure the infected site.


Mange is a severe skin condition caused by several species of mites that live on the dog’s hair and skin.

There are 2 main types of mange: one caused by the demodex mite ‘demodectic mange’, which tends to affect dogs under one year old, older dogs or pets with another underlying condition.

Sarcoptic mange caused by sarcoptes mites, which is an intensely itchy condition and is often first seen on the dog’s ears. Symptoms of mange include hair loss on the face and legs, along with severe itching and redness around the affected areas.

As with fleas and ticks, if your pet has mange, wash their bedding and make sure any other animals avoid contact with this pet. Mange is diagnosed by the vet looking at a sample of some of the skin under the microscope. Treatment includes tablets and dedicated shampoos to kill the mite, ease the itching and inflammation – in fact, some of the flea and worm products that vets prescribe can also protect against mange.


Like humans, dogs can get dandruff or ‘scurff’ and dry skin; this can be a sign of an underlying problem, like an infection. Some dogs are prone to having dry skin, particularly in winter and it may be affected by their diet; high-quality sources of protein, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids can all help keep the coat healthy.

Simple cases of dandruff are normally easy to treat with shampoos but the vet will want to check there is nothing underlying.

How to enter

Simply share a photo on your Facebook page of your dog rugged up for winter or enjoying the winter sunshine and use the hashtag relevant to your state.

What you can win

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined prize. Each prize includes a winter pet pack to the value of $100.

Click on your state to reveal the hashtag you need to use to enter!

QLD Residents

Share a photo of your dog enjoying the winter sunshine or snoozing in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetQLD

VIC Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetVIC

NSW Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetNSW

TAS Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetTAS

Terms & Conditions

Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these conditions. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these conditions. Entries must comply with these conditions to be valid.

Entry is open to Australian residents that meet the competition requirements outlined below during the Competition period 1 June 2022 – 31 August 2022. Employees and their immediate families of the Promoter and its agencies associated with this competition are ineligible to enter.

To enter, each entrant must, during the Entry Period, upload a photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile) and use the hashtag corresponding to the state they are in (e.g. #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS).

Winner of the competition will be determined by:

  1. Appropriate photo uploaded (photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile)
  2. Relevant hashtag used (state residing in: #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS)
  3. Number of likes (photo with highest number of likes at end of competition period with all other criteria completed will win)

The competition will close for entries Wednesday, 31 August 2022 at 12:00pm [AEST]. Failure to meet any of the competition requirements will deem entry invalid and will not be eligible to win.

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined.


Competition requirements:

Entrants must be a current client of a participating Apiam/Fur Life Vet clinic.

Entries must be received by the Promoter during the Entry Period. Entries received after 12:00pm [AEST] 31 August 2022 not be accepted.

The competition commences at 00:01 [AEST] on 01/06/2022 and closes at 12:00 [AEDT] 31/08/2022.

Queensland prize includes a pet pack to the value of $100.00.

Victorian, New South Wales, and Tasmanian prize includes two separate pet packs to the value of $100.00.

All taxes (excluding GST) which may be payable as a consequence of receiving a prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

The Prize is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash.

The Promoter assumes no responsibility for any failure to receive an entry or for inaccurate information or for any loss, damage or injury as a result of technical or telecommunications problems, including security breaches. If such problems arise, then the Promoter may modify, cancel, terminate or suspend the competition.

If the prize becomes unavailable for reasons beyond the Promoter’s control, the Promoter may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.

The winner will be notified by email on or by 10/09/2022.

Entrants consent to the Promoter using their name, images submitted, pets name, comment, and/or voice in the event that they are a winner in any media for an unlimited period of time without remuneration for the purpose of promoting this competition (including any outcome), as well as any other communications outside of this competition, and/or promoting any products manufactured, distributed and/or supplied by the Promoter. If you are not willing for these uses or disclosures to occur you cannot participate in the competition.

Further, entrants agree that the Promoter has an unrestricted, irrevocable, transferable, divisible right and licence to use and modify their entry for the purposes of the Promoter’s business including for promotional purposes without the payment of any further fee or compensation.

If requested by the Promoter, the entrant agrees to sign any further documentation required by the Promoter to give effect to this arrangement. To the extent permitted by law, entrants unconditionally and irrevocably consent to any act or omission that would otherwise infringe any moral rights in their entry. Entries remain the property of the Promoter. Details from entries will be collected and used for the purposes of conducting this competition (which may include disclosure to third parties for the purpose of processing and conducting the competition) and for promotional purposes surrounding this competition. By entering this competition entrants consent to the use of their information as described and agree that the Promoter may use this information, or disclose it to other organisations that may use it, in any media for future promotional purposes without any further reference or payment to the entrant.

By entering this competition, entrants consent for the Promoter to use entrant’s name, email address, phone number which entrants submitted to enter for the purposes of administering and operating the competition. Entry is conditional on the Promoter acquiring the aforementioned information. All personal information collected by the Promoter will be handled by the Promoter in accordance with the Promoter’s privacy policy (PRIVACY) Entrants have the right to access their personal information, request correction of any errors and/or obtain a copy of the Promoter’s privacy policy by contacting getvetchecked@furlifevet.com.au.

The Promoter is Apiam Animal Health Pty Limited (ACN: 604 961 024) at 27-33 Piper Lane East Bendigo, 3550, Victoria, Australia.

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