Pet Health
most common skin conditions in dogs

Dog Skin Conditions - 10 Most Common Skin Conditions in Dogs

Written by Steph McCulloch


As a pet owner, it's crucial to recognise the signs of skin conditions and seek veterinary assistance promptly if your pet starts to show any symptoms.
brown dog sitting on grass and itching


As responsible dog owners, it’s important for us to be aware of the common skin problems that can affect our pets. Skin conditions not only cause discomfort but can also have a significant impact on our pets' overall health and happiness.

In this article, we explore the importance of recognising these issues and provide an overview of the most common skin problems in dogs as well as treatments and preventative techniques. By understanding these conditions, we can take proactive measures to ensure our beloved companions live a happy and healthy life.

The signs of skin conditions

close up of dog licking

Recognising the signs of skin conditions in dogs is vital for prompt identification and treatment. Keep an eye out for redness, inflammation, or rashes on the skin, as well as excessive scratching, biting, or licking of certain areas. Hair loss, bald patches, dandruff, or a dull coat can also indicate a potential skin problem. 

It’s also important to pay attention to any changes in your dog's behaviour, such as increased irritability or restlessness, which could be a result of discomfort caused by a skin condition. Additionally, keep an eye out for the presence of bumps, lumps, sores, or lesions on the skin. Unpleasant odours, flaking, or greasy skin may also indicate an underlying issue as well as hot spots of inflamed skin (acute moist dermatitis). If you notice any of these signs, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

If you’re a Waggel member, you can access free online vet care with Joii. Simply download their app and book a consultation for whenever suits you best!

Understanding dog skin conditions

dog scratching

We’d be here all day if we got into every single skin condition out there, instead, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most common dog skin problems and potential causes.

Staph infections

Staph infections, also known as staphylococcal dermatitis and staphylococcal hypersensitivity, are skin conditions caused by a group of bacteria called, you guessed it, staphylococcus. Excessive scratching, licking and chewing of the skin are the most common causes as they disrupt the skin’s environment.


Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection, it’s also referred to as impetigo in young puppies. This kind of condition occurs when the skin’s surface is broken through some sort of injury and is exposed to moisture. It can also occur when the skin’s bacteria have been altered, the blood flow to the skin is impaired, or the immune system is suppressed.


Folliculitis refers to the inflammation of the hair follicles. This skin condition tends to occur when a hair follicle is compromised by a specific skin disorder or an underlying disease.


 Impetigo, also known as puppy pyoderma, is a skin condition whereby lesions appear on the skin. This can be caused by many things such as being scratched, being bitten by ticks or fleas, having disrupted bacteria levels, or if the puppy is immunocompromised.


Ringworm in dogs occurs when a dog comes into contact with an infected animal, person, or contaminated item such as a food bowl or bedding. It spreads through direct contact with fungus and through the breaking of infected hairs or shedding. 

Yeast infections

Yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis is caused by a fungus called Malassezia pachydermatis. It’s a very common skin condition in dogs and can cause inflammation as well as extreme itchiness.

Ticks and fleas

Ticks and fleas are also very common causes of skin disease in dogs. When a flea bites, it inserts its saliva into your pet’s skin causing a series of problems from allergic reactions to tick-borne illnesses. Ticks and fleas are most common during the warmer months where they thrive in the soft, warm fur of a dog.


Mange is a skin disease caused by mites. There are two types that can affect dogs; demodectic and sarcoptic. Sarcoptic mange is also known as canine scabies and is highly contagious causing intense itching and sores. Demodectic mange is considered less common and is only passed between mother and pup.


Dandruff occurs when the sebaceous glands overproduce an oil called sebum. Though this oil helps to keep your dog’s skin moist and healthy, too much oil causes an imbalance which soon develops into dandruff.

Environmental and food allergies

Atopic dermatitis is a skin allergy in dogs which results in scratching, licking, and continuous skin infections as a result of environmental allergies or food allergies. Canine atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition that requires management. 

Slowly changing your dog’s diet to avoid known allergens such as grains is a great place to start and fortunately for you, we’ve partnered exclusively with Butternut Box to bring you 50% off your first 2 meal boxes if you’re a Waggel member. Their food is freshly prepared to avoid allergens, perfectly portioned and best of all, delivered straight to your door. 

Identifying and diagnosing dog skin conditions

fluffy dog

Regular check-ups and observations for dogs are crucial for their overall health and well-being and will also help to diagnose skin conditions. When visiting the veterinarian, it is essential to provide detailed information about your dog's condition. Start by discussing any recent changes in their diet, including new foods, treats, or supplements. These changes may have triggered an allergic reaction or intolerance, leading to skin problems. 

Additionally, inform your vet about any recent changes in the household environment, such as new cleaning products, detergents, or even a change in the type of bedding used, as these factors can also contribute to skin irritations.

Timing and frequency of symptoms are valuable pieces of information to share with your veterinarian. Note when you first noticed the symptoms and whether they have been persistent or sporadic. Keep track of any triggers that seem to exacerbate the condition, such as exposure to certain environments, weather changes, or contact with specific materials like grass or carpets. 

Be sure to mention the specific types of symptoms you have noticed on your dog's skin. This could include redness, swelling, itchiness, rashes, scabs, or lesions. Describe the location and extent of these symptoms, whether they are localised to a particular area or spread across the body. Additionally, inform the vet of any accompanying signs like hair loss, changes in the coat's texture, or an unpleasant odour. 

Lastly, inform your vet about any previous underlying illnesses or medical conditions your dog may have had. Some health issues, such as hormonal imbalances or immune system disorders can predispose dogs to skin problems. By providing this information, you can help your vet to understand your dog's medical history. You’ll also help them to consider any potential connections or underlying causes for any current skin conditions as well as an effective treatment plan.

Treatment and management of dog skin conditions

Closeup of dog fur

Professional veterinary examination and diagnosis are crucial when it comes to addressing dog skin conditions. While it may be tempting to self-diagnose or rely on over-the-counter remedies, a veterinarian has the expertise to accurately identify the specific condition affecting your dog's skin. 

They can conduct thorough examinations, perform necessary tests or skin scrapings, as well as analyse the symptoms in the context of your dog's overall health. A professional diagnosis enables targeted treatment, ensuring that the underlying cause of the skin condition is addressed rather than just alleviating the symptoms.

Different skin conditions require different approaches, such as topical creams, medicated shampoos, oral medications, dietary modifications, or even allergy testing and immunotherapy. A veterinarian will recommend the most suitable treatment options based on the diagnosis. 

Treatment for the top 10 skin conditions:

  • Staph infections: Treatment for staph infections in dogs usually involves oral or topical antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

  • Pyoderma: Treatment for pyoderma may include antibiotics, medicated shampoos, and topical ointments to control bacterial infection and promote healing.

  • Folliculitis: Folliculitis in dogs can be treated with antibiotics, medicated shampoos, and topical treatments to address the underlying infection and soothe the affected follicles.

  • Impetigo: Impetigo in puppies and dogs can be treated with antibiotics, topical ointments, or cleansing washes to control bacterial infection and support the healing of skin sores.

  • Ringworm: Treatment for ringworm in dogs typically involves antifungal medications, medicated shampoos, and environmental disinfection to eliminate the fungal infection and prevent its spread.

  • Yeast infections: Yeast infections in dogs can be treated with antifungal medications, medicated shampoos, and topical creams to eliminate the yeast overgrowth and alleviate symptoms.

  • Ticks and fleas: Treatment for ticks and fleas in dogs includes the use of topical or oral insecticides, regular grooming, and environmental control measures to eliminate infestations and prevent re-infestation.

  • Mange: The treatment for mange in dogs depends on the type of mange (sarcoptic or demodectic) and may involve medications such as antiparasitic dips, oral medications, or topical ointments to control the mite infestation and manage symptoms.

  • Dandruff: Dandruff in dogs can often be managed through regular grooming, the use of moisturising shampoos, and dietary adjustments to promote healthy skin and coats.

  • Environmental and food allergies: Treatment for allergies in dogs involves identifying and avoiding allergens whenever possible. In some cases, antihistamines, immunotherapy, or dietary changes may be recommended by a veterinarian.

Prevention and maintenance strategies are key for ensuring long-term skin health in dogs. This includes regular grooming to keep the skin clean, maintaining a balanced diet that supports skin health, and addressing any underlying health conditions that may predispose your dog to skin problems. Avoiding known allergens or irritants, such as certain foods, plants, or chemicals, can also help prevent skin reactions. 

Practising good parasite control, including flea and tick prevention, is crucial. Regular veterinary check-ups and screenings can detect potential skin issues early on, allowing for prompt intervention and preventing more severe problems down the line. By implementing these prevention and maintenance strategies, you can promote long-term skin health and overall well-being in your canine friend.

Dealing with pet skin allergies

woman holding dog

Many dogs suffer from environmental allergies which can cause lots of discomfort and worry for owners. The most common are pollen, molds, grass, dust mites, and trees. The best way to alleviate symptoms is to identify and minimise exposure to triggers. This may mean keeping to shorter walks during allergy seasons, using air purifiers and avoiding areas with heavy grasses and trees.

Keeping your home clean from dust and using safe cleaning products is also a surefire way to help your dog feel relief from their allergies.

Food allergies are another big allergen and can be alleviated by speaking to your vet and following a specific diet. Dogs can be allergic to certain foods due to an adverse immune system response to specific proteins or ingredients. Allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances, known as allergens, as potential threats. In the case of food allergies, the immune system overreacts to proteins in the food, triggering an allergic response.

If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, it's recommended to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform diagnostic tests, such as elimination diets or blood tests, to identify specific allergens. Once identified, the best approach is to eliminate the problematic ingredient or switch to a hypoallergenic diet recommended by your veterinarian.

Other skin conditions and infections

Understanding and addressing ringworm infections, ticks, fleas, and the resulting skin reactions is crucial for maintaining your dog's skin health. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect dogs, causing circular patches of hair loss and red, scaly, or itchy skin. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted to other animals or humans. If you suspect your dog has ringworm, it's important to seek veterinary attention promptly. Treatment typically involves antifungal medications and thorough cleaning of the environment to prevent further spread.

Ticks and fleas are common external parasites that can cause significant skin irritation and discomfort for dogs. Ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, while fleas can lead to allergic reactions and dermatitis. 

When it comes to ticks and fleas, prevention is key. Regularly check your dog for ticks, especially after spending time outdoors in the summer. Use veterinarian-recommended flea preventatives, such as topical treatments or oral medications, to protect your dog from infestations. Washing your dog's bedding is also a great way to help prevent flea infestations.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the skin and other organs in dogs. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is a form of lupus that primarily affects the skin.

Dogs with CLE may develop lesions, ulcers, scaly patches, or hair loss on their face, ears, or other exposed areas. Treatment for lupus involves managing the symptoms and suppressing the immune response through medications such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. Regular veterinary care and monitoring are necessary to manage lupus effectively and minimise its impact on your dog's skin and overall health.


In conclusion, understanding and addressing common dog skin conditions is vital for maintaining your pet’s overall health and well-being. We hope that by reading our above article you understand canine skin conditions in a little more detail and feel well-equipped to deal with these problems with your vet. 

As a pet owner, it's crucial to recognise the signs of these conditions and seek veterinary assistance promptly if your pet starts to show any symptoms. And don’t forget, if you’re a Waggel member you can take advantage of free vet care any time you need it with Joii.

Remember, proactive care and regular check-ups are key to optimal skin health in dogs. By taking this approach, you can help prevent and manage canine skin problems. Regular check-ups with your vet will allow for early detection and intervention, ensuring any skin issues are addressed promptly. 


How can I treat my dog's skin problems?

Treating skin problems includes seeking prompt veterinary advice. Following a diagnosis, your vet will prescribe a tailored treatment approach such as medicated shampoo, topical cream, or oral medications. They may also suggest lifestyle or dietary changes.

What is the most common skin infection in dogs?

Staphylococcal infections (staph infections) are the most common bacterial skin infection in dogs. They can be transmitted between dogs and humans. The symptoms of a staph infection include excessive scratching, licking and chewing of the skin. Treatment usually involves oral or topical antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

What does a skin infection look like on a dog?

A canine skin infection can often take a wide range of appearances. However, it’s best to look for signs of redness, swelling, pus, sores, hair loss, bald patches and itching. If you’ve noticed these signs in your dog, speak to your vet to work out an accurate diagnosis. 

What does dermatitis look like on a dog?

Dermatitis often appears as red, inflamed skin causing excessive itching, rashes, and sometimes discharge or crusts. Dermatitis can have various underlying causes so we recommend speaking to a veterinary professional for a treatment plan and suitable medication.

Can I put coconut oil on my dog?

Coconut oil is a great moisturiser for dogs and helps to soothe dryness. Whilst it can provide relief for mild skin issues, it should not be used in the placement of veterinary care or medication.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

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