Most Common Pet Skin Issues

Pet parents worry that their furry companions may have fleas if they constantly scratch themselves. But these pesky critters aren’t the only things that can cause itchiness. Your dog or cat could have some other common skin disorder.

Veterinarians commonly treat skin diseases in pets. Most skin problems are easily treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Others are serious signs of dangerous health conditions. Here are 15 common pet skin disorders and how to treat them.

1. Acral Lick Granuloma:

Pets groom themselves by licking their fur. Some pets can suffer from anxiety, boredom, fear, or illnesses that lead to abnormal licking. When your pet chronically bites or licks one spot, it can cause a condition called Acral Lick Granuloma. These lesions are also called hot spots. They are hairless, itchy, sore spots which become infected and are unable to heal. Acral Lick Granulomas usually appear on the lower parts of the legs.

2. Fleas

These tiny ectoparasites feast on the blood of pets and human beings. Their saliva and bites can trigger an allergic response that leads to skin inflammation, hot spots, rashes, and scabs. A severe flea infestation can also be life-threatening due to anemia and blood loss.

The quickest way to get rid of these pests is by using prescription strength medications. Once the pest population is gone, you can use topical or oral steroids to reduce skin inflammation and itch.

3. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that affects many animal species. This contagious disease can cause thickened, scaly skin and bald, circular patches. Ringworm is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from dogs and cats to people. Some infectious strains include Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

4. Yeast Infections

Is your pet licking, chewing or scratching its body? Does it smell? Your dog or cat could have a yeast infection. These bacteria prefer to grow in damp, closed spaces such as ear canals or between paw pads.

This infection can indicate underlying hormonal disorders or allergies. Owners should examine their pets’ bodies for the following symptoms:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Greasiness
  • Scales
  • Head shaking
  • Licking
  • Odor
  • Swelling
  • Drooling

5. Food Allergy Dermatitis:

Most people know the famous statement, “You are what you eat.” Your pet is no different. Although it is not as common as most people think, some pets are allergic to one or more proteins found in foods. It takes some detective work and close cooperation between veterinarian and owner to diagnose the cause and figure out what diet is best for your pet.

6. Hormonal and Metabolic Issues

Has your pet’s skin recently changed color? Your furry friend may have a metabolic or hormonal issue such as hypothyroidism or Cushings Disease. Estrogen or testosterone imbalances can also alter skin tone and cause hair loss. Schedule an exam with one of our veterinarians to rule out any serious conditions.

7. Skin Tumors

Most people believe their pets’ coats protect them from the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, dogs and cats can also develop skin cancer due to solar damage. Short-haired dogs and cats are most susceptible. When you detect a suspicious lump on your pet’s body, bring them in for treatment. Untreated mast cell tumors and melanomas can be fatal.

Your veterinarian can perform a biopsy to find out if it’s cancerous or not. We’ll use the diagnosis to recommend further treatments if needed.

8. Immune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders can cause chronic skin infections or lesions in pets. One example of an immune-related illness is Lupus. This serious disease causes skin and organ problems that can kill. Bring your dog or cat in for tests that can rule out these disorders.

9. Pyoderma

Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that affects dogs and cats. The disorder causes lesions, pustules, and alopecia (hair loss). There are two types of pyoderma:

Superficial pyoderma or Folliculitis: The disease occurs on the outer layers of your pet’s skin. Symptoms include scabs, bumps, and sores on the skin’s surfaces. This condition easier to detect in short-haired pets. Long-coat animals with folliculitis will have dulled coats and scaling skin.

Deep pyoderma: This condition often appears with other skin issues like mange. It can also be an indicator of more serious internal health problems.

A veterinarian will use antibacterial ointments, shampoos, and antibiotics to help your pet.

10. Impetigo

This skin ailment is common in puppies and kittens. The illness causes pustules that crust over and break. Blisters usually form on pets’ abdomens. Veterinarians can treat impetigo can with medicated shampoos. Without proper treatment, the infection can spread.

11. Seborrhea

Seborrheic dermatitis is a genetic condition that causes skin flaking and peeling. Seborrhea also may develop because of underlying medical conditions, allergies, hormonal issues, or illnesses. A veterinarian must identify the underlying cause to treat this disorder. Symptoms include a yellow or red rash, itchiness, greasiness, and scaling skin.

12. Alopecia (Hair Loss)

It’s normal for animals to shed fur depending on the season or surrounding climate. When a pet sheds more fur than normal, it can be a sign of a medical condition or a poor diet. Alopecia can affect all breeds and types. Take your pet to the vet if your pet has patches of fur missing.

13. Mange (Mites)

Parasitic mites can cause a skin disorder called mange. This disease usually affects canines, but there are feline forms of the disease.

Demodectic Mange: This condition causes balding, sores, flaking, and scabs. This mange is not contagious.

Sarcoptic Mange: This illness is also called scabies. Sarcoptic mange causes sores, itchy skin, redness, and hair loss. This disorder usually affects the face, legs, and ears. This zoonotic illness can be transmitted from dogs to people.

Notoedric mange: This is the feline form of scabies. This contagious disease is similar to ones found in dogs.

14. Ear Mites

Ear mites can affect animals of all ages. An infected pet will shake their heads and scratch their ears. A thick, dark red discharge is another sign that your furry friend has ear mites. Your veterinarian can examine the discharge to check for these pests and prescribe topical treatments to eliminate them.

15. Environmental Allergens (Atopy)

Pets can develop skin problems from environmental allergens (atopy). These substances include dust, mold, and pollen.

Atopy symptoms are similar to food allergies and other skin conditions. Felines with atopy-related issues will overgroom themselves. Affected dogs will become itchy, and some may wheeze or have difficulty breathing. Both species tend to scratch, rub their faces, and chew at their fur when exposed to these environmental irritants. Common natural irritants include grass, ragweed, dirt, plants, or insects. Corticosteroids can treat these rashes, but the condition will recur upon repeated exposure to the allergen.


Do you suspect that your pet has a skin condition or allergy? Bring them to Animal Medical Clinic for an examination. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.