Glendale Animal Hospital - The Family Veterinarian

SKIN DISEASE

BACTERIAL SKIN INFECTIONS (PYODERMA)

Bacteria are normal and generally harmless residents on the skin surface. While many species of bacteria can be present at any given time, staphylococci are most common and of greatest concern in most skin infections. Often, skin infections occur secondary to some predisposing cause such as trauma (scratching) which abrades skin surfaces and creates an environment suitable for unfavorable growth. While bacterial skin infections share certain common similarities, there are several different presentations commonly seen and described herein. 

 

SUPERFICIAL PYODERMA (HOT SPOTS, ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS)

Hot spots or acute moist dermatitis is a common problem in dogs. This condition is often secondary to other diseases that produce itching and thusly abrade the skin. Diseases such as allergic dermatitis (atopy), flea allergic dermatitis, mite infestations, and anal sac disease often cause hot spots to be created. These lesions appear as a sudden loss of hair, redness and a moist, pus-like exudate on the skin. Some owners may see dry, raw spots before the infection sets in. This condition will seem to appear very quickly although many dog owners have failed to appreciate the early itchiness of the pet. (Itching is often manifested as scratching, biting, chewing or licking the skin.)

Some dogs may be more prone to hot spots, especially in hot moist climates. These being the St. Bernard, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and the Collie, possibly because of their thick undercoat which holds moisture close to the skin. Most cases, however, are secondary to the other causes as mentioned before.

Hot spots vary somewhat in size and appearance, but the lesions (signs) most often appear on the hips, flanks, low back and near the tail. Some dogs like the Cocker Spaniel seem to develop spots on the neck and sides of the face. Lesions are often sore or painful; crusts and exudates may have built up if a day or two has passed since onset. Diagnosis is based on history of sudden onset, clinical signs, skin scrapings, woods light evaluation, cultures and in some cases, skin biopsy, mostly to determine the initiating cause. ((Hot Spots))

TREATMENT OF SURFACE PYODERMA

Most dogs do very well with prompt treatment. Clipping hair from the area and scrubbing the crusts and exudates away with an antiseptic shampoo is the first step; sedation is often required due to discomfort and unwillingness of the patient. Injections of anti-inflammatory medications and/or antibiotics, topical application of Burrows H solution with or without antibiotics added, or similar topical medications is common. Oral antibiotics and sometimes prednisolone to control itching or allergic reactions will heal most spots quickly.

 

FOLLICULITIS

Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles, or the root area of the hair. It may occur on any area of the body, but the groin and axilla (under the front leg) are common sites for this to appear. The clinical lesion appears as a pustule, which looks like a pimple; a small bump filled with pus with a hair protruding from it. Often, however, these lesions are more difficult to find as the infection continues on and spreads, causing hair loss, papules, which are small red bumps on the skin and crusty areas with scales.

Greatly advanced cases are known as Deep Folliculitis or Furunculosis, but these are often secondary to foreign objects in the skin, demodicosis, trauma and other endocrine diseases. Here, larger and deeper areas of skin infection with small fissures or ulceration occurring and increased amounts of exudates are seen. Diagnosis for all cases should include history, physical exam, skin scrapings, cultures, skin biopsy and possibly endocrine testing. ((Folliculitis))

TREATMENT OF FOLLICULITIS

Diagnosis and treatment of any initiating cause is most important to initiate the proper treatment plan. Antibiotic therapy, often for 2-4 weeks, is indicated; medicated shampoos to disinfect the skin and remove crusts and debris are important, and topical antibiotic/burrows/cortisone solutions may all be employed. In more advanced or resistant cases, cultures of the exudates to help in antibiotic selection are advised. 

IMPETIGO (SUPERFICIAL PUSTULAR DERMATITIS)

This is most commonly a staph infection of young, prepubescent dogs that may occur more commonly in dogs harboring internal parasites, being poorly nourished or living in dirty environments. Clinical signs appear as small pustules (bumps filled with pus) which do not involve the hair follicles that are noted in the non-hairy areas of the body such as the groin or under the forearm. These are usually not painful. They are often found on routine exam of young dogs. The pustules may rupture and yellow crusts then appear in the area. Diagnosis is based on physical examination and occasionally a skin biopsy. ((Superficial Pustular Dermatosis))

TREATMENT OF IMPETIGO

Most dogs respond well to topical cleansing with an antibacterial shampoo such as oxydex or a chlorhexadine type product. Some cases may require antibiotic therapy and most dogs will improve more quickly as they approach puberty.

 

SKIN FOLD DERMATITIS

Dogs with natural skin folds such as the Pekingese, Bulldog or Shar Pei, or obese dogs with extra rolls of skin due to their weight have problems with pyoderma between the folds. Rubbing of the skin, build up of secretions or exudates and moisture being trapped in the folds all favor the growth of bacteria and the development of an infection. The infections are most often superficial but can be chronic and recurrent. ((Lip Fold Pyoderma)) ((Nasal Fold))

Clinical signs appear in areas where folds occur and thusly, fold pyoderma often involves the face between the nose and eyes, the lips, the area around the tail and the area around the vulva in female dogs. Diagnosis is straightforward and based on physical exam of the infected area. Foul odors from the lesions, especially from the lips, are very common. Secondary pigmentary keratitis in cases of nasal fold dermatitis will often occur.

TREATMENT OF SKIN FOLD DERMATITIS

Cleansing the skin with oxydex type ointment or shampoos and administering antibiotics orally will provide temporary relief, but long term treatment will depend either on weight loss if the dog is obese or surgical removal or alteration of the folds for a permanent cure. In dogs where surgery is performed, quick recovery and rare relapse of clinical signs is the rule.

 

ABSCESSES

Abscesses are pockets of bacteria, exudates and inflammatory cells, which most often occur just below the skin in what is called the subcutaneous tissues. These are not common in dogs but are seen if foreign objects such as foxtails have gotten under the skin, if bites or other types of punctures have occurred or if a wound has closed quickly and infection has been trapped under the skin.

An abscess can occur in any location. Symptoms appear as a soft, fluid filled sac under the skin. The area may be warm to the touch and the dog may have a fever. Sometimes an opening may appear over the abscess or the abscess may rupture and pus will drain from the hole. Foreign body abscesses are common between the toes and in the ear canals. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, cytology of exudates and bacterial cultures. ((Foxtail Abscess)) ((Cactus in Leg))

 

CELLULITIS

Like an abscess, cellulitis is a deep bacterial infection but is less defined. Clinical signs appear as an infection that will tend to spread along tissue planes rather than pocket into a cavity. Areas of cellulitis are often swollen, painful and may open and ooze pus. Sometimes areas of skin may slough or peel away as they are damaged by the infection. Fever may also be present in these dogs. Diagnosis is by physical examination, cytologic exam of exudates and cultures to help determine the best therapy. ((Cellulitis))

TREATMENT OF ABSCESSES AND CELLULITIS

Both conditions are so similar that treatment is consistent for each. Proper drainage is needed to help remove pus from the tissues. Abscesses will be lanced and flushed under anesthesia or sedation, with exudates being cleaned away using antiseptic solutions. Drains are sometimes placed in larger abscesses. Antibiotic injections and oral antibiotic therapy will be prescribed and should be quickly effective.

In cases of cellulitis it is often difficult to isolate pockets of pus for drainage but any open sores should be cleaned and flushed by the veterinarian. Topical ointments can be used to treat open wounds or drainage sites and some veterinarians prefer that owners hot-pack the areas involved to improve circulation. Any abscess or open draining tract should be carefully explored for foreign objects.

 

JUVENILE CELLULITIS (PUPPY STRANGLES)

This condition is uncommon but can occur in puppies between 1 and 4 months of age. The cause is unknown but may be immune-mediated. The face of these pups will initially swell and be confused with angioedema. Clinical signs include swelling of lymph nodes under the jaw and papules and pustules (lumps, some of which may ooze pus) on the nose, lips, face, and around the eyes. Hair may be lost from these areas and draining exudates will ooze from the skin. The ears may become heavily involved and many pups have a fever and loose their appetite. Diagnosis is based on physical exam, cytologic exam of exudates (while there will be pus, this is not an infection), cultures and skin biopsy. These dogs really look bad but can be treated well in most cases. ((Juvenile Cellulitis))

TREATMENT OF JUVENILE CELLULITIS

If treatment is not undertaken early, severe scaring of the skin will occur. Large doses of prednisolone or dexamethasone for 2-4 weeks will work well. Antibiotics are often used although infection is the exception not the rule. Cleansing soaks or shampoos can also be beneficial, as can topical antibiotic/steroid solutions to help remove crusts and debris from the skin surface.

 

VARIATIONS OF PYODERMA

Several other forms of bacterial skin infections also occur. These are noted here and described briefly to aid the reader in their identification. Treatment will be similar to all other bacterial skin infections.

CALLUS PYODERMA: infection of the calluses dogs often develop on the elbows, ankles (hock) and breast bone areas. Infection will usually occur only if the callus is damaged somehow. ((Elbow Callus))

PERIANAL FISTULA: deep infections near anus, often of the German Shepherd Dog and shepherd crosses. Cause is poorly understood; very hard to treat.

PODODERMATITIS: infection of feet and toes that can have many causes. If nails become involved it is called Paronychia. Very irritating to the dog. Can occur secondary to foreign objects under the skin or fungal infections.

GRANULOMA: nodules that are hard, may have draining tract with pus being thicker or having a sand-like appearance. The best way to understand a granuloma is to think of an abscess with less pus and more scar tissue.

 

ANAL SAC DISEASE

The anal sacs or "glands" (they are really not a gland) are paired, balloon like structures that reside under the skin and a thin layer of muscle at about the 4 and 8 O'clock positions as one views the anal sphincter. These sacs secrete a musky fetid material of varying consistency, which probably plays some role in territory marking and identification of the dog from whence it was produced. Problems of the glands seem more common in small breeds of dogs and in dogs who consume soft foods or table foods. Although no exact cause of anal sac disease has been determined, many theories exist. ((Anal Sac Abscess)) ((Anal Sac Anatomy))

It is possible to feel the sacs just under the skin, like small, semi-soft marbles in the area described. Groomers often "express" the anal sacs during a routine grooming procedure. If the sacs become infected, overfilled, or if the drainage ducts become plugged, anal sac disease including abscessation of the gland(s) will occur. ((Anal Sac Abscess))

Clinical signs of anal gland disease include scooting of the rear end on the floor, licking or biting of the anal area, redness and swelling of the area and possibly a moist infection of the skin or an open draining sore if the gland has abscessed and ruptured. The condition may be quite painful, appear suddenly and cause some dogs to be reluctant to pass their normal bowel movement or do so with some pain involved. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, cytology of exudates and bacterial cultures.

TREATMENT OF ANAL SAC DISEASE

Mild impactions are treated by gently squeezing the glands to drain retained material. As recurrence is common, repeated or regular drainage may be needed. Oral antibiotics are used if infection is present. In chronic cases or cases where abscessation has occurred, sedation and flushing of the glands with an antiseptic solution followed by filling the sacs with a medicated ointment is commonly performed.

Larger abscesses which have not ruptured on their own need to be lanced, flushed, and possibly have a drain installed. Oral antibiotics based on culture will be needed, often for several weeks. In some cases the glands are cauterized or completely removed by surgery when chronic and/or severe problems exist.

FUNGAL DERMATITIS (DERMATOPHYTOSIS, RINGWORM)

Fungi, like bacteria, are common and ever present in our environment. A few, such as Microsporum and Trichophyton species can commonly cause the skin infection called "ringworm". It should be made clear that no worm is involved; that ringworm is a lay term that describes the appearance of lesions on human skin caused by these types of fungi. Most animals, if exposed to these fungi, do not develop skin disease. Age, the character of the skin and natural resistance all seem to determine which dogs will have the disease. Some animals including dogs and cats may harbor and transmit the infection to other individuals. Puppies are more likely to become infected than are adults.

There is no one typical clinical appearance for "ringworm"; most often, circular areas of hair loss and mild crusting are noted. Lesions do not seem to itch much. Hairs inside the area may appear to have been "mowed" off short. On occasion, the areas involved may be red and mildly raw, raised, and somewhat itchy. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, Wood's light exam, skin scraping, fungal cultures and skin biopsy. Many other conditions mimic dermatophytosis in appearance so careful diagnostic examination is important. When fungal infection of the toenails occurs it is called Onychomycosis.

TREATMENT OF FUNGAL DERMATITIS

Most fungal infections, with the exception of Onychomycosis, respond well if treated properly. Clipping hair from the affected areas; baths in anti-fungal shampoos or certain dips work well topically. For smaller lesions, antifungal creams are readily available but those used for athlete's foot often do not work well for these types of infections. Oral griseofulvin or ketoconazole work best and will quickly bring the fungus under control. Most dogs need to be treated for several weeks.

 

YEAST DERMATITIS (MALASSEZIA DERMATITIS)

Yeasts are common residents of the skin and ear canals but rarely cause disease on their own. Given abraded skin and some moisture, however, an extensive infection can occur. Often seen in cases of otitis externa or secondary to allergies, mange or flea allergic dermatitis, yeast infections produce clinical signs of a very itchy, foul smelling, rough, red or dark and irregular thickening of the skin, often under the arms, in the groin and along the flanks and back. Dogs with this condition smell quite sour and owners report that the dog starts to smell again quickly after a bath. ((Yeast Dermatitis))

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, skin scrapings, cytology of the skin or skin biopsy. Often veterinarians will become involved in treating other skin problems and overlook the fact that yeasts have invaded and are producing their own problem. The foul odor and changes in the skin color and texture should be a clue to aid diagnosis.

TREATMENT OF YEAST DERMATITIS

Use of ketoconazole and its relatives works best to kill yeast and will often quickly reduce the itching involved. Topical antifungal lotions or creams can be used as can medicated antifungal shampoos or general antiseptic shampoos. Dogs who have had yeast infections should be kept dry and a vigorous attempt made to determine what led to the infection in the first place.

 

HOOKWORM DERMATITIS

Although relatively uncommon in the United States, dogs in areas where there are large numbers of hookworms and dogs kept under less sanitary conditions can be affected. At first, red bumps will often appear on the feet or underside of the body as worms penetrate the skin. Later, loss of hair, redness and thickening of the skin will be present. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, fecal exam and skin biopsy. Treatment is to clean the environment and to kill the hookworms. (internal parasites.)

 

EXTERNAL PARASITES

IMMUNE MEDIATED DISEASE(INCLUDES ALLERGIES)

ENDOCRINE DISEASE

 

HYPERKERATOSIS

Hyperkeratosis is an increase of the thick hard tissue on the footpads, callus areas and nose. Dry, rough and irregular growth in these areas is common and unsightly but causes minimal discomfort if any to the dog. If this thickening does, however, become too great on the feet, some pain can occur in larger dogs as they walk. While this condition usually occurs without cause, canine distemper, pemphigus, SLE and zinc-responsive dermatosis can all cause changes in these areas.

TREATMENT OF HYPERKERATOSIS

Usually the formation of excess keratin cannot be stopped, but control of the build-up will relieve any discomfort for the dog. Careful trimming of the dead areas can be undertaken. Soaking the areas in water to soften and moisten them will help, and the use of Vaseline or Kerasolv can be used to dissolve more of the excess keratin and further soften the tissues.

 

HYPERESTROGENISM IN FEMALE DOGS

Middle age female dogs that have cystic ovarian disease can develop changes in the skin known as hyperestrogenism. Signs include loss of hair from the genital area, thighs, flanks, abdomen and later over larger parts of the body is the primary symptom. The nipples and the genitals will become enlarged, with most females not having their heat cycles in a normal pattern. Later, seborrhea can develop at which point itching will occur but overall the disease per se is not very itchy. Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs and response to therapy.

HYPERESTROGENISM IN MALE DOGS

On rare occasion, when male dogs with a sertoli cell tumor of the testicle have high levels of estrogen produced by that tumor, clinical skin disease similar to that in female dogs will occur. Often these are cryptorchid males, with the tumor occurring in the internalized testicle. Clinical signs include loss of hair from the genital area, thighs, flanks, abdomen and later over larger parts of the body is the primary symptom. The nipples and the genitals will become enlarged and pendulous and prostate enlargement can also occur. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, palpation of testicular enlargement and response to treatment.

TREATMENT OF HYPERESTROGENISM

In both male and female dogs, treatment involves spaying of females and neutering males. Within 3-6 months after surgery, most dogs will regrow their coats and otherwise appear normal. If, in male dogs with sertoli cell tumor, the tumor has spread before castration, these dogs will relapse, but then more serious clinical symptoms will also be present. Symptomatic treatment of seborrhea or pyoderma may also be warranted.

 

SEBORRHEA

Seborrhea is a chronic disease of dogs characterized by increased amounts of scales and sometimes oils on the coat. The problem may affect small areas of skin or be more generalized over the entire body. Usually there is little inflammation, but in some cases this too may develop. Three common classifications of the clinical signs are recognized: Seborrhea sicca, dry flaky skin and coat common in Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Irish Setters and the Dachshund; Seborrhea oleosa, a greasy, foul smelling scaling of the coat common in Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels and the Shar Pei; and Seborrheic Dermatitis, where excess oils, scales and inflammation of the skin are all present, most common in Cocker and Springer Spaniels. 

There are other designations for seborrhea based on the cause, but it is sufficient to say that this condition may occur in and by itself, as well as secondarily to other skin or metabolic conditions including endocrine diseases, poor diet, internal parasites, external parasites, immune-mediated disease and allergies. Again, there do seem to be certain breeds as mentioned above that more commonly will develop seborrhea. Other breeds such as the West Highland White Terrier and Labrador Retrievers often develop severe secondary seborrhea in association with allergic dermatitis.

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, ancillary testing to rule out other significant illness, skin scrapings, fecal parasite exams, cultures and skin biopsy. As there can be so many other primary disease conditions that lead to seborrhea, good long-term treatment will depend heavily on a proper initial diagnosis.

TREATMENT OF SEBORRHEA

It should be understood that rarely is seborrhea cured, and that even if a primary, initiating cause is identified and treated, very few dogs will quickly return to normal and never have problems with the condition again. Therefore, the goal of therapy in all cases should be control of clinical signs and physical relief for the dog.

Besides treatment for primary conditions such as allergies or parasites, medicated shampoos containing coal-tar or their refined derivatives are commonly employed, at first frequently, then less often as the condition becomes more controlled. While most people balk at using these products, their effectiveness is well proven and modern versions make use much more pleasant.

Prednisolone and antibiotics will be used until inflammation and any infection is under control. Fatty acid supplements too are commonly employed, as may be various special diets. The point is there are many medicated shampoos and other medications that can be used. The difficulty for your veterinarian is determining which combinations will best help an individual dog.

 

SCHNAUZER COMEDO SYNDROME

Many Schnauzers and some other breeds as well will develop symptoms of multiple "black heads" over most of their back. The medical term for these is comedos, which will seldom cause discomfort or itchiness, but they feel rough when petting the dog and appear quite unsightly. The syndrome is related to seborrhea but may involve hair follicles more so than normal seborrhea. Diagnosis is based on physical examination and possibly a skin biopsy.

TREATMENT OF SCHNAUZER COMEDO SYNDROME

Clipping the back of the dog and twice weekly shampooing with oxydex, sulf-oxydex, or tar-sulfur combination shampoos and cleaning the back a couple of times a week with rubbing alcohol also seems to be effective. Some dogs may have hypothyroidism, which too should be treated. Some cases have been associated with inflammatory skin disease and in these, cortisone-type drugs usually prove effective.

 

ACRAL LICK GRANULOMA (LICK GRANULOMA)

Some dogs will have a lesion appearing as a round, raised, thickened and raw lesions on the lower areas of front or rear legs, which the dog will lick and bite at frequently. The area is not a true granuloma, but more exactly is dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) caused by licking.

Most dogs that develop this problem are large active breeds that are not getting enough attention or exercise and lick at their legs out of boredom. Other possible causes have been proposed including localized inflammation of the skin or neuralgia (tingling nerves) which then stimulate the dog to bite the area. Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination although a biopsy may also be needed as many times these lesions look like raw or ulcerated skin tumors. ((Acral Lick Granuloma))

TREATMENT OF ACRAL LICK GRANULOMA

If possible, the dog should receive more exercise and attention to relieve boredom, or an attempt should be made to find any other possible stress in the life of the pet which may lead to the excess attention to the spot. Sometimes tranquilizers, hormones or other mood altering drugs are employed to alter the mental problem. The spots themselves can be treated with oral or direct injections of cortisone, topical medications like DMSO or Synotic, and chemicals that taste bad in an attempt to repel the dog. In some cases, if the spot is not too large, surgical removal may be very effective, as will freezing the lesion. Antibiotics are useful only if some secondary infection has developed. Another drug, Bactoderm, has proven very effective in many cases.

 

HYGROMA

Hygromas occur when repeated trauma occurs to pressure points on the body and a fluid-filled sac(s) develops under the skin. Most commonly this occurs over the elbow and ankle areas. Large heavy breeds seem to be affected most. Signs include sacs that are soft and filled with joint fluids. These can become infected and abscess if not treated. Diagnosis is based on physical examination, X-rays and fluid analysis. ((Hygroma))

TREATMENT OF HYGROMA

If caught early and while small, placing padding over the affected area and/or providing padded areas where the dog commonly lies may be enough for these lesions to heal and resolve. Larger or more involved hygomas will require extensive surgical drainage, repeated bandaging and even skin grafting in advanced and slowly healing areas

 

NASAL SOLAR DERMATITIS

This is a reaction that occurs in the area where the hairless and hairy skin near the nose comes together. Signs include redness, loss of hair, crusting and exudates that form in the area. Collies, Shelties and some related crosses seem to have this condition most often. If not treated, some of these lesions can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a serious form of cancer. Diagnosis is based on physical examination and skin biopsy; the lesions can be confused with those caused by pemphigus or SLE.

TREATMENT OF NASAL SOLAR DERMATITIS

Avoidance of sun exposure is most important. Topical sunblock or other medications are not very effective as they are quickly licked off. Using a permanent black felt marker may act as a longer lasting sunscreen but tattooing of the lesion is the best long term treatment available.

 

CONTACT DERMATITIS

Contact dermatitis should not be confused with contact hypersensitivity as no allergic type reaction is involved here. Irritants including chemicals, drugs, soaps and insecticides can cause this condition. Reactions to flea collars are seen in the obvious area around the collar; this is known as Flea Collar Dermatitis. This condition may appear very similar to contact hypersensitivity and the distinction is probably of lesser importance as in either case, the offending substance needs to be identified and removed to solve the problem.

Clinical signs most often occur in the groin, under arms, chest, abdomen, between the toes and around the anus and tail. Other areas are affected when larger quantities of the substance are contacting the area as with a flea collar. Small bumps (papules), redness, itching, loss of hair, crusting and scaling are all commonly noted. If the dog scratches or bites excessively, moist dermatitis and secondary ulceration will occur. Diagnosis is based on history of exposure, physical examination, skin biopsy and patch testing.

TREATMENT OF CONTACT DERMATITIS

Primary treatment of this condition is simple; find and remove the offending substance. Cleansing the skin with medicated shampoos, and the use of injectable, oral and topical prednisolone or triamcinolone to relieve the inflammation will be effective. Moisturizing medications applied topically may also be used to soothe the skin.

 

ZINC-RESPONSIVE DERMATOSIS

Two skin conditions in dogs have been recognized which seem to respond to adding zinc to the diet. These include a the symptoms of redness, hair loss, scales, crusts and pus formation around the mouth, eyes, ears and chin of Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes. The skin of these dogs is often dull but greasy, and crusts may appear over joint areas with the pads of the feet becoming thickened.

A similar condition is noted to occur in rapidly growing puppies of large breeds. Not all pups in a litter may be affected, and the severity in each pup may also differ. Clinical signs here include thickened crusty areas on the elbows, ankles, nose and pads all occur along with secondary pyoderma. Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, skin biopsy and the response of adding zinc to the diet. Puppies will often respond better, however, than the breeds predisposed as noted above.

TREATMENT OF ZINC-RESPONSIVE DERMATOSIS

Addition of zinc in exacting amounts, (excess will cause imbalance of other minerals) improved diet with higher levels of protein, and topical emollients to soften the skin and help remove crusts are all useful.

 

ACANTHOSIS NIGRANS

Almost always seen in the Dachshund, this disease has signs of an irregular black thickening and hair loss under the arms and occasionally on the forearms, groin, ankles and on the ears. Many possible causes have been proposed but an exact diagnosis is often elusive. The change in skin color often occurs before the thickening and other changes and the lesions are usually not itchy. Diagnosis is based on physical exam. ((Acanthosis Nigrans))

TREATMENT OF ACANTHOSIS NIGRANS

Injectable, oral, and topical steroids in various forms are often effective early in the disease process. Antibiotics, weight reduction and medicated shampoos are often also used to help smooth the skin and remove crusts. The hormone melatonin, now commonly available, may also be very effective in reversing and preventing the condition.

 

CYSTS

Cysts are non-neoplastic (not cancerous) growths that are sac-like; having a lining made from some type of skin tissue and a secretion inside that sac. Most arise from hair follicles although glandular cysts are also common. Most cysts are singular although some dogs may seem to develop multiple cysts at various locations on the skin. Some cysts may occur at pressure points or secondary to trauma or foreign objects entering the skin. Any cyst may be complicated if it ruptures or becomes infected. 

TREATMENT OF CYSTS

Most cysts can be fully and completely removed with surgery. Lancing or popping of cysts as was common in days past or draining of material from the cyst should not be undertaken. Inflamed cysts may respond to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications and need not be removed unless ongoing problems occur.

 

MISCELLANEOUS SKIN GROWTHS

Various other unusual growths can occur on the skin, most without danger to the dog, but being a nuisance at best. These include Nevi, developmental defects characterized by unusual skin growth and Keratoses, growths involving increased production of thick hard skin similar to that on the pads and feet. Hard, horn-like projections are commonly noted with this condition. ((Nevis))

 

LACERATIONS and WOUNDS

While it might be a stretch to consider lacerations and wounds a skin disease, these injuries are among the most common of all skin problems. As one might imagine, many obstacles can cut and damage the skin. The length, depth and severity of damage with any type of skin wound can vary greatly. Clinical signs will include the obvious deformity of the skin, but can include bleeding, loss of sensation, loss of function, pain and swelling of the area. Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination although X-rays may be needed to further access the severity of any injury. 

TREATMENT OF LACERATIONS and WOUNDS

As the type of wound can vary greatly, there is no one general or exact way to treat any given injury. General guidelines one would follow in cases of trauma apply, with wound management generally performed as follows:

  1. Control any bleeding. Make sure the patient is stable.
  2. Clean the wound well with plain water and then irrigate with saline or a saline-antiseptic solution.
  3. If the wound is only a few hours old and relatively clean it may be sutured closed directly.
  4. If the wound is more than a few hours old but not more than a few days old, and if minimal infection is present, cleaning the tissues, removing dead or partially healed tissues then suturing the cleaned layers can be performed.
  5. Wounds that are several days old or older may be repairable but only after extensive removal of partially healed tissues. Sometimes these wounds may be left to heal without suturing, keeping them covered and using medications to control infection until the wound has healed.
  6. Badly contaminated wounds may need to be left open or can be closed if a drain is put in place to allow exudates to escape. This will also allow the veterinarian to infuse medications directly into the area.