If you’re like me, you start wondering and worrying over every lump, bump, and strange itch that your dog develops. Most of the time, it’s nothing serious.
In dogs, seborrhea is a skin disease that is characterized by a defect in keratinization or cornification of the outer layer of the skin, hair follicles, or claws.
Keratinization is the process in which the protective outer layer of skin is being constantly renewed by new skin cells. Seborrhea results in increased scale formation, occasionally excessive greasiness of the skin and hair coat, and often secondary inflammation and infection.
Seborrhea occurs as a result of an underlying condition. Underlying conditions include everything from a parasitic infection to an endocrine (hormonal) disorder.
Seborrhea in Dogs Treatment
Occasionally, if seborrhea is due to temperature changes or stress, it may resolve on its own. Otherwise, treatment of seborrhea in dogs requires treating the underlying condition, treating any skin infections, keeping your dog comfortable, and treating the seborrhea itself.
A veterinarian will usually prescribe a medicated shampoo as the core medicine. Even though washing a dog with medicated shampoo can be difficult (you do have to let them soak in the shampoo for 5-10 minutes before rinsing), it is usually the easiest, most effective treatment available, and can often resolve seborrhea without any other treatment required. Medicated shampoos reduce flaking and itching, fight infections, and help the skin heal.
Keratolytic shampoos are designed to remove excess scale and dead skin and soften the skin. These shampoos can contain tar, salicylic acid, sulfur, fatty acids, selenium sulfide, benzoyl peroxide, and/or propylene glycol. Dogs being treated with keratolytic shampoo may look worse before they look better since these products can remove built up dead skin that can get caught in fur.
Zinc gluconate shampoo also fights seborrhea by decreasing skin oil (sebum) production.
Phytosphingosine (PS) is another ingredient you might see in a medicated shampoo. PS is naturally present in skin as a component of ceramides. Ceramides are part of the skin’s defense barrier, and are responsible for the outermost layer of the skin sticking together, controlling resident bacteria on the skin, and keeping the skin properly moisturized.
In addition to medicated shampoos, your veterinarian may prescribe medicated lotions, spray-ons or leave-ons that may also have these ingredients. Your veterinarian may also recommend a conditioner or leave-on product that has moisturizing or emollient properties to soften and soothe dry, irritated skin.
In some cases, oral medication may be prescribed. Cyclosporine, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, steroids, and retinoids have all been prescribed with varying levels of success.
If the skin is infected, antibiotics and/or antifungal medications will be prescribed. These medications are prescribed in oral, injectable, and topical forms, depending on the individual case.
If your dog has an underlying disorder that is causing seborrhea, then you aren’t done! In order to eliminate the seborrhea and help your dog be healthy, the underlying condition must also be treated. If your dog has primary seborrhea with no underlying problems, treatment is aimed at managing seborrhea, not curing it.
These are patches of scaly, flaky skin that might be red or inflamed because of excessive scratching and/or licking. Lesions can appear on the face, feet, under the tummy (known as ventral axilla), in or around the ears (otitis externa), and under the ear flap or on the paws (erythema).
Poor conditioning can result from things like an injury, old age, arthritis, etc. Anything that limits your dog’s ability to groom can create conditions ripe for seborrhea in dogs.
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