Category Archives: skin conditions

Does Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Affect Dogs?

By Linda Cole

Hiking a favorite trail or playing at the park may seem like a safe way to spend the day, but you may not have noticed that patch of poison ivy your dog walked through. The question is, does poison ivy, oak or sumac affect dogs, and can they give it to us?

Humans and animals can suffer the same itchy fate when exposed skin makes contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac. These plants aren’t as likely to bother cats because their coat covers them completely. Dogs on the other hand, have exposed skin on their tummy and the inside area of their back legs. The oil from these plants can also sometimes work its way through a dog or cat’s coat to the skin, causing an itchy discomfort. If you weren’t aware your pet was in contact with one of these poison plants, you might think his scratching was due to fleas.

Poison ivy is generally found in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. Poison oak is mainly found in western states; it can be found in southern states as well, but is rarely found in the Midwest. Sumac thrives in wooded, swampy areas of southern and eastern states. It’s also prevalent in wet wooded areas, like along the Mississippi River.

All three toxic plants contain an oily sap called urushiol, which causes an itchy rash and nasty blisters on the skin. Urushiol has to be absorbed through the skin before it can cause an allergic reaction. It takes longer for the oily resin to penetrate through thicker skin, which is why there can be a delay before there’s a reaction, or why it seems to spread. A rash and blisters are seen first where the skin is the thinnest, and appears on other areas as the toxin is absorbed through thicker skin. Fluid from broken blisters is not contagious and can’t infect other areas on the body because the urushiol that created the blister has already been absorbed.

If your dog or cat walks through a patch of poison ivy, oak or sumac and gets some of the resin on his coat, even if it doesn’t affect him, you can get the sap on you if he rubs against you or you pet him. Since dogs and cats are shorter, it’s very easy for them to get the oily sap on their ears, face or anywhere else on their body when hiking or just out running around in their own backyard.

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Dog Health: Preventing and Treating Calluses

By Linda Cole

If your dog is anything like mine, he probably prefers snoozing on the couch or on a comfy chair rather than on the floor. I don’t mind sharing the couch with my dogs, because the softer padding helps protect them from developing calluses. Dogs can get calluses on their elbows and other areas of the body, just like we get them on our feet or hands. They aren’t life threatening and usually don’t bother the dog, but they can become a problem if they turn into sores. If you see gray, bare spots on your dog’s elbow, those are calluses. These can be prevented and treated.

Calluses form on a dog’s elbows, hips, and other areas of the body when the dog sleeps on hard surfaces – basically any place on their body where they are resting on a bony area. Calluses are sometimes called pressure sores and can turn into an abscess or an ulcer. Larger dogs are more susceptible to developing calluses, but any dog that spends too much time sleeping or laying on a hard surface can get them.

Summer is a prime time for dogs to develop calluses because they seek out the coolest area they can find to take a snooze. Cement located under a shade tree is a favorite resting spot because the cool surface feels good to them. Shaded decks and tile blocks are also great places to lie on during the summer. Dogs that pick hard surfaces to sleep on should have their elbows, hips and legs inspected regularly.

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Why a Quality Pet Food Matters

By Linda Cole

The good people at CANIDAE produce premium quality pet food that helps keep our dogs, cats and horses healthy. They’ve gone through extensive research to offer pet owners reliable, natural and nutritious food choices. But this article isn’t about a company who provides pets with the best diet possible; this is about why we, as responsible pet owners, need to be aware of why our pets need the best food possible. It’s also about something many pet owners may not realize – which is, that buying a premium quality food like CANIDAE can actually be more cost effective than grocery store brands.

On the CANIDAE website you can find a Cost to Feed Calculator which figures the daily cost of feeding CANIDAE Natural Pet Foods based on your dog’s weight. Just answer a few questions about which formula and size bag you buy (or would like to try), your dog’s weight and the amount your independent pet store charges for it. Then click the “calculate” button to see how affordable premium dog food really is! For a dog weighing between 51 to 75 lbs, you can pay an average of only $0.52 to $0.78 per day.

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What Are Sebaceous Tumors, and is Your Dog at Risk?

By Suzanne Alicie

If you have dogs, you’ve probably heard what sounds like a terribly frightening name for a condition that is common in dogs. Sebaceous tumors are known by a few different names: sebaceous gland cysts, sebaceous cysts, benign sebaceous cysts and gland tumors.

The word tumor strikes fear into the heart of a responsible pet owner, especially if you have never dealt with this condition and aren’t aware of what you are dealing with. These tumors or tumor-like conditions that affect the sebaceous glands are quite common in dogs.  In the veterinary world, and also in human medicine, a classification system is in place that names all benign sebaceous gland tumors as sebaceomas. Yes, humans can develop these tumors as well. The word benign generally means that the tumor is non-cancerous and not likely to spread to another part of the body.

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What Makes a Dog’s Nose Change Color?


By Linda Cole

I had a female Siberian Husky, Cheyenne, whose black nose would change color in the winter. It would go from black to a pinkish color and then back to black when the weather warmed up. I believed she was healthy, but checked with my vet just to be on the safe side. A sudden change in color can be a warning sign something is wrong, but it can also be nothing more than your dog getting older. Why does a dog’s nose change color?

“Snow nose” or “winter nose” is the most common reason why a dog’s nose will change color. It will fade from black to brown or pink during the winter months. Cheyenne’s nose began to change color every winter once she reached her middle years. By the time she was a senior citizen, the color in her nose pretty much stayed in-between a brownish to pinkish color year round.

Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs and Bernese Mountain dogs are the breeds where snow nose is most common. When a dog’s nose changes color during the winter it’s because the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for producing pigmentation in the nose, is thought to be more sensitive to cold. It could also be a result of less sunlight during the winter months. Why the enzyme is less active during the winter is not completely understood. However, it’s nothing to be alarmed about and when spring rolls around, the dog’s nose will return to its normal color. However, if your dog’s nose changes to white, it’s not snow nose.

A skin condition called vitiligo is an immune disease that will cause a dog’s nose to change color. The cells that produce color on the dog’s nose and hair color on their body lose their ability to create pigmentation. A sign your dog has vitiligo will be white patches on his body. A simple biopsy can determine if your dog has this disease. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dachsunds, Poodles, Irish Setters, Afghan Hounds, Samoyeds, Pointers and Dobermans are more likely to suffer from vitiligo than other breeds. Vitiligo isn’t a health concern for the dog and if they have it, nutritional supplements may help restore their coloring.

Some dog’s can lose coloring in their nose if they’ve been sick or experienced some kind of trauma. The color should return once they’ve recovered. A scraped nose or one that suffered abrasions will turn pink until the scabs fall off. Some dogs have a sensitivity to plastic containers. With constant irritation from eating and drinking out of plastic bowls, their nose will turn pink and the lips will become inflamed. If your dog’s nose turns color and you’re using plastic bowls, change to stainless steel bowls.

Your dog could have what’s called a Dudley Nose where his nose changes color for no apparent reason. A puppy’s black nose may change to a brown color as he gets older and sometimes the pigmentation will fade to pink or white. If your vet rules out snow nose, vitiligo or other more serious conditions like cancer, your dog’s loss of color is nothing more than a Dudley Nose.

Lupus Erythematosus is a condition that will cause a dog’s nose to lose color. They will also have scaly skin and inflammation around the face with lesions along the ears. Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shepherds and crossbreed dogs are most at risk to develop this condition. As a responsible pet owner, you should ask your vet for advice on how to help your dog if he develops Lupus Erythematosus.

For the most part, if your dog’s nose changes color, it’s nothing to worry about and it may be part of the aging process. The enzyme producing pigmentation doesn’t produce as much color as the dog ages. But it’s always best to be safe when it comes to the health of your dog and see your veterinarian to make sure the color loss is nothing serious. The only real problem for a color change in a dog’s nose is if the dog is about to enter the show ring circuit; he will be eliminated for not meeting breed standards.

Special attention should be given to a dog with a pink or white nose because it will sunburn easily. Make sure to apply dog safe sunscreen to his nose when he’s outside and watch for any blistering which is an indication of a severe burn.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Help a Scratching Dog Get Relief


By Linda Cole

Do you have a scratching dog that is driving you crazy? Does he wake you up in the middle of the night with his mournful yelps while his leg pounds on the ground with a beat that would make any drummer envious? Like us, a dog scratches what itches, but there may be more going on than just a simple itch behind his ear. Scratching can indicate a presence of ear mites, dry skin or fleas, but it can also alert a dog owner to more serious conditions that need to be attended to.

One of my dogs has a severe reaction to fleas. It only takes one to drive her nuts. Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the biting flea. But a scratching dog doesn’t have to be miserable or drive you crazy, because flea allergies can be eliminated in most cases with regular use of flea medication along with controlling fleas throughout the home. Your vet can administer steroids or antihistamines to help calm the dog’s itching and give both of you peace and quiet from all the scratching and whining.

Winter weather means furnaces are up and running which makes the air inside the home drier. The dry heat quickly creates scratching dogs and humans, so extra attention to skin care may be required. Dogs have more dander during winter months, and extra grooming can help keep their skin in good shape. It’s a good idea to not bathe your dog as frequently in the winter.

If they do need a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo that’s made specifically for dogs. Shampoo made for people is too harsh for dogs because our PH is different from theirs. Finish off with a good dog conditioner that contains ingredients to help reduce dry skin. Of course the best way to help scratching dogs beat the winter itch is to provide them with a high-quality dog food that keeps them healthy from the inside out. CANIDAE Grain Free Salmon Formula can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy all year.

Scratching dogs may have ear mites that have invaded their ears. These tiny parasites will cause your dog to shake his head and scratch his ears. A sure sign your dog has ear mites is an unpleasant odor coming from their ears. The dog may yelp in pain while scratching and rub his head along the ground in an attempt to stop the itch. You may see a discharge (dried blood) draining from the ear and if you clean his ears with a Q-tip and look closely at the debris, you can see the mites moving. To stop the scratching and free him of this parasite, it’s important to first clean his ears thoroughly with a quality ear cleaner followed by ear drops to kill the mites. Ear Miticide is the normal medicine used to kill the mites.

Yeast infections or secondary infections can also cause your dog to dig at his ears. If you are unsure why your dog is scratching his ears and you’ve been able to rule out ear mites, a visit to your vet can help determine the cause. Antibiotics may be required to clear up the cause of the problem.

Any time a skin condition lasts more than a week, it’s a good idea to take your dog to see your veterinarian. A constantly scratching dog may indicate a serious condition that needs to be addressed. If you see open sores on their skin or irritations like rashes, redness or bumps, hair loss, a constant licking of their feet or dry, or dull hair that you can easily pull out, these symptoms could indicate other conditions like cancer, skin cancer or lymphoma, bacterial infections, allergies, mange, ringworm, hot spots or a number of other conditions that can affect dogs.

A scratching dog can work themselves into a frenzy and the cause of their itching needs to be addressed. If his drummer’s beat on the floor is driving you crazy, then imagine how he must feel. Most skin and ear conditions can be dealt with easily. Once you’ve been able to determine exactly what your dog’s scratching is all about, both of you can finally have a peaceful night’s sleep.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.