Dermatitis in Dogs: What is it? Treatment, and Natural Remedies



What is dermatitis in dogs? It is a skin condition that causes itching and irritation, as well as other harmful symptoms.

What is dermatitis in dogs? Dermatitis is one of the most common diseases in dogs. Have you ever heard of it? Do you know what it is and how it manifests? If you are not familiar with it, we will tell you about this disease and its implications on the skin.

Being the most superficial layer, the skin has to deal with possible injuries caused by diseases or shocks. The dog’s skin is only a few millimeters thick and it is the part of the body that connects the “exterior” to the “interior” parts.

Dermatitis in dogs is a pruritic inflammation of the skin, i.e., an itchy inflammation. It can manifest itself in different ways in our pet (vesicles, erosions, ulcers, nodules, redness, etc.) and it may be caused by different reasons.

Dermatitis in Dogs: Causes

Canine dermatitis can be a consequence of many factors. Genética disposition plays a major role because there are dog breeds more prone than others to suffer from this.

A poor diet is a common cause of dermatitis in dogs as it dries out the skin and coat, destroying the natural oil barrier that protects the skin.

Dermatitis can also be caused by an allergic reaction, for example, to a certain food or product that has been in contact with it or a mite.

Dermatitis in Dogs: Types

1. Canine Atopic Dermatitis:

This one is pretty common in dogs and genetics plays a fundamental role. The disease typically affects dogs from age 1 to 3 years.

This type of dermatitis in dogs may start during spring when the number of allergens in the environment increases. Then, it may continue throughout the year.


Symptoms are produced by an excessive reaction of the organism to elements that were inhaled or absorbed through the skin (like pollen or mites), which would not produce any reaction under otherwise normal conditions.

  • Itching, especially in the dog’s ears, which may then be accompanied by ear infections.
  • Itching and redness around the eyes and armpits.
  • Sneezing and nasal and ocular secretion.
  • Itching on the lower part of the body, including hair loss and lesions in the areas of severe scratching. It is sometimes worsened by a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Intense licking between the fingers of our pet, causing the whole area to darken due to the oxidation of the saliva with the air.

The ideal course of action would be to identify what causes the reaction in order to avoid it, but sometimes it is not known for sure. In this case, the best thing to do is to take certain precautions such as not shaking sheets and quilts near the dog, vacuuming the house daily and reducing walks when it is windy.

There is no cure as such for this disease, but your veterinarian may recommend that you bathe your dog with some specific itch-reducing and disinfectant shampoos.

If there is already a secondary infection, the area will need to be treated. Antibiotics may be necessary as prescribed by your veterinarian.

If the itching is severe and medication is used to control it, fatty acid supplements and a specific diet may also be recommended.

2. Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs (FAD):

This type of dermatitis in dogs is very common and it occurs in some dogs that are sensitive to substances present in flea saliva that triggers the reaction.


  • Alopecia (hairless áreas)
  • Red bumps or pimples, especially on the hindquarters, base of the tail, back of the hind legs, and inner thighs.
  • Itching. Our pet nibbles or scratches against the surface of furniture or objects.
  • The skin dries out and wounds and scabs may appear and become infected.
  • If untreated, the skin darkens and thickens.

The treatment of flea allergy dermatitis will be focused on flea control. In addition, not only our animal suffering from this disease should be treated, but also all the animals that live with it.

If you already know that your pet is sensitive to flea saliva, flea prevention will need to be done throughout the year.

Your veterinarian will recommend the most effective product. Obviously, it is necessary to carry out frequent hygiene of bedding and covers used by the dog, and if necessary, a disinfestation of the environment can be done.

3. Food Allergy Dermatitis

This type of allergy in dogs is very common, especially in certain breeds. Besides, it can occur at any age.


  • Frequent digestive disorders.
  • Reddened skin.
  • Hives on ears, rump, back side of legs, and the lower part of the body.
  • Allergic reaction to certain foods like white or red meat, eggs, or any additives.

Treatment is an elimination diet (the food that causes the allergy is removed from your dog’s diet). In order to do so, certain foods are eliminated until the one causing the allergy is found.

If the symptoms subside, the suspected food can be reintroduced to confirm it is causing the disorder. If the dog worsens again, it can be confirmed that it is suffering from food allergy dermatitis and the proper diet should be maintained.

It is also advisable to feed them with hypoallergenic food already designed for this type of problem.

4. Canine Fly Dermatitis

This dermatitis is caused by flies, especially in summer and in dogs living outdoors. It causes a lesion on the tips of the ears or in the folds in dogs with droopy ears. Bleeding and scratching are observed, and the dog usually shakes its head because of the pain caused by the lesion.

Diagnosis in these cases is not difficult as flies can be seen on and around the sores.

As a palliative measure, flies should be controlled and the dog should be kept indoors, or at least not outdoors, until the sores heal. Apply insect repellent, keep the ears clean, and if the veterinarian recommends it, depending on your dog’s lesions, an antibiotic ointment may be applied.

5. Acral Lick Dermatitis

This type of dermatitis is quite peculiar as it seems to have a psychological origin caused by boredom. There may also be physical factors such as an injury or pain in the area that causes the dog to lick.

This excessive licking causes an open sore that usually appears on the dog’s paws. It is most common in short-haired dog breeds. The skin thickens and hardens as a result of frequent licking.

Before any treatment, we have to find the reason that makes our dog want to lick a specific area. Reasons may be boredom, an atopic dermatitis, mange, bacterial or fungal infection, a wound, among others.

If the origin is presumed to be psychological, we will have to change the dog’s habits and routines, so that it is entertained and not interested in licking itself.

6. Acute moist dermatitis, commonly referred to as hotspots

It is a painful, smelly, pus-filled lesion that appears suddenly. By licking, the dog spreads the infection which may vary in size. These lesions appear on any part of the body.

Before the molt, in dogs with a lot of hair, it can be linked to its appearance, but it is also necessary to rule out the presence of parasites, allergies, and infections.

Lesions caused by acute moist dermatitis are extremely painful, so it is difficult for the animal to let them heal without being sedated.

Oral drugs, topical dressings and an Elizabethan collar may be required until the wounds are healed.

7. Contact dermatitis

This type of dermatitis in dogs is triggered by contact with an element that causes the reaction. It usually occurs in the area of the mouth, muzzle, chin, scrotum or other hairless parts of the body.

The reaction may occur by contact with:

  • Chemical agents such as detergents, solvents, paints, and even some soaps. The dog’s skin will become severely reddened and irritated and small red bumps may also appear.
  • Products such as anti-parasite collars, shampoos, leather, etc. They may produce contact dermatitis in dogs that affect larger areas of their body.
  • Some drugs and plastic or rubber feeders.

Treatment will consist in treating the affected area. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian to know how and with which product to do it. Once the causative agent has been identified, it must be prevented from coming into contact with our dog.

8. Dermatitis in puppies

There is a type of dermatitis that affects puppies in their first year of life. It is called impetigo and acne. They present as mild superficial infections on the skin.

Impetigo is characterized by pus-filled blisters in the abdomen and groin area. We may also observe brown crust when the blisters burst.

Acne may appear in dogs as early as 3 months of age. It is characterized by pustules and pimples on the chin, lower lip, genital and groin area.

Both impetigo and acne can be treated with specific shampoo baths. Impetigo usually occurs in dogs that are not very well groomed. Antibiotics are sometimes needed for acne, yet usually clears up as the puppy gets older.

Can dermatitis in dogs be treated with natural treatments?

As we have seen, each type of dermatitis is different and each one requires a specific treatment; however, there are some natural products that can help our furry friends.

A proper diet is essential to alleviate dermatitis. Balanced food strengthens the immune system. There are special products on the market for dermatitis or atopic dermatitis.

Itching caused by dermatitis can be relieved with natural shampoo baths with aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal.

In some cases, we can apply cold decoction compresses with mallow or chamomile on wounds which will act as a natural anti-inflammatory. Another effective plan is aloe, especially when the affected part is dry.

If in doubt, consult a professional who will give you good assistance and answer all your questions.

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