Category Archives: skin conditions

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.

Skin Disorders in Dogs: “Ringworm”

By Anna Lee

You have probably heard of ringworm, and you most likely associate it with kids. I always did too, until recently. Contrary to what its name implies, ringworm is not caused by a worm. It’s caused by a type of microscopic fungi that live and spread on the top layer of the skin and on the hair. They prefer to live in warm, moist areas such as swimming pools and in skin folds. Athlete’s foot is a form of ringworm; between the toes is warm and moist skin where the fungus grows.

You may not know this, but it’s not uncommon for a dog to get ringworm. This fungal organism attacks the skin, then invades the hair shaft and feeds on the protein in the hair and skin. It will initially show up as dry flaky skin, broken hair and bald patches, typically on the ears and front legs. Abby had a few on her front leg, several around her neck and more down her back. According to my vet, cats do not show signs of ringworm, but they are carriers. Here is how I learned about ringworm.

Not long ago I noticed Abby had a large spot where hair was missing and it happened overnight. The skin was not raw or red, rather it was dry and was a perfect round circle. My first and immediate thought was another hot spot. I got out the container of formula that I used during the hot spot episode last summer. I kept her out of the pool, which was heartbreaking for her! After a few days the spots started to multiply. Naturally the worst of it happened over the weekend as more and more areas became hairless.

First thing Monday morning I called the vet for an appointment for that afternoon. I remained calm until we got there, assuming she just had a rather bad case of hot spots. After he examined Abby he said there were not hot spots, but ringworm. He then explained the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworm.

We were instructed to:
1. Cut away the hair from each area to allow air to get to the spots.
2. Bath her twice the first week with a special medicated shampoo made especially for ringworm (the vet sells the shampoo).
3. Give her one anti-fungal pill a day for 7 days. This is the same compound used for ringworm in humans.
4. Return to the vet in a week for further evaluation.

We decided to get her first bath at their facility the following morning. They shaved the spots, bathed her and dried her thoroughly; it was well worth the $15 charge.

The vet explained that when these round areas begin to heal they do so from the inside out. That causes a “ring” to form, thus the name ringworm. Two days later the rings started to form and I felt like we were making good progress. The next step was for us to give her the second bath at home.

We bathed her according to instructions: wet her down, lathered her up well, left the lather on for 10 minutes then rinsed well and repeated all steps. The next step is important: dry the dog thoroughly.

We returned to the vet in a week, and he said she was healing nicely. He also said that since ringworm is slow to get started, it is also slow to get rid of. He ordered more pills for us, a month’s worth this time. But the good news is that she could swim, as this will not hurt her or slow the healing. We were told to continue with the baths twice a week and to return in three weeks.

The vet’s assistant called us three days later to let us know that the hair sample taken previously proved it was officially ringworm. We were glad to know our vet was right with his diagnosis. Unfortunately, new rings have formed since that visit. After speaking with the vet on the phone we increased the baths to every other day. She was also put back on her allergy meds to help keep the skin calm. The original spots look like they are healing. The newest spots do not appear as severe as the original spots were when they started. We don’t have a clipper but I did manage to cut the hair away from the spots so that the air can get to them.

The vet reiterated that this is a long process and we have to be diligent. We are maintaining the bath schedule and making sure she gets her meds. Other than that her life hasn’t changed much. She is still a happy-go- lucky lab despite her outward appearance! She’s also not lost her appetite for CANIDAE® Snap-Biscuits dog treats. Our next appointment isn’t for a few weeks, and hopefully by then the worst will be behind us.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

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.

Sunburn Protection for Dogs

By Linda Cole

We know the health concerns and dangers associated with sunburns for people. We have all had our share of too much sun after a day at the beach, hiking or just enjoying a day off relaxing outdoors. If your pooch is at your side while enjoying outdoor activities, don’t forget the sunburn protection for your dog.

Sun, fresh air and exercise are good for our pets as well as for us. Rays from the sun aid the skin in producing vitamin D and helps balance calcium levels with metabolism. Enjoying summer sun doesn’t have to be painful for either man or dog.

Dogs can and do get nasty sunburns, although not as easily as we do which can make it harder to determine if your pet is burned or not. Hairless, short haired and light colored breeds are the most prone to sunburn, but any dog can pick up a burn after a day in the sun. Because dogs are closer to the ground, they can get sunburned from above and from the reflection of the sun’s rays off a sandy beach or concrete. Like us, repeated burns can result in skin cancer and skin damage.

Some breeds like Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs have a hypersensitivity to the sun and can get a condition known as “Collie nose.” However, any breed who has little to no color on their face are more susceptible to the sun than others. “Collie nose” can be a serious health issue for these dogs. Lesions can develop on their nose, eyelids and lips which need to be attended to in an early stage to prevent a deadly cancer that can develop if the condition is left untreated. Weimaraners and boxers need to be monitored carefully since they are more prone to cancer than other breeds. It’s important to follow a dedicated sunburn protection routine for these dogs.

Signs that your dog is getting sunburned are the same for them as it is for humans. You will see redness on the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of their ears and tummy. They can also experience a loss of hair. The burn can blister and peel, and be just as painful for them as it is for us.

Prevention is easy. Make sure your dog has plenty of shade during peak hours of summer’s heat. Even cloudy skies can let enough UV rays through for a nasty burn. Apply sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher, to their belly, ear tips, inside the legs and on the bridge of their nose. Look for lotions that have titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Active dogs will need to have sunscreen reapplied throughout the day, especially if they are playing at the beach, in the water or running through tall grass that can wipe the sunburn protection off their bellies and legs.

To help prevent sunburn, put a T-shirt on your dog. Doggles (dog sunglasses) help prevent sun damage to their eyes. You can even find a variety of hats at most stores that sell pet apparel. If you want the newest type of protection, a body suit made out of a spandex type material has hit the market. This suit will give your pooch the ultimate protection from harmful UV rays. It might also help him catch the eye of that cute Schnauzer that sits under the umbrella with her human companion watching his athletic abilities catching a Frisbee.

It’s safe to use the same sunburn protection you apply to yourself, but be careful your dog doesn’t lick it off. Use baby sun protection if your dog is prone to lick the lotion off. Alternatively, sunscreen made specifically for dogs can be found at pet stores. Avoid lotions that contain zinc oxide. You can use it on their nose and ears, but if they ingest too much zinc oxide, it can cause gastrointestinal problems.

If a sunburn occurs, keep an eye out for rawness or broken skin. Minor burns don’t usually require medical attention, but if your pet is showing signs of pain or raw skin, it would be a good idea to schedule a visit to your vet.

Dogs enjoy being outside, especially with their favorite human. Just take it easy during peak sun hours (noon to 4:00 p.m). Find a nice shady spot for an afternoon siesta and avoid the sun’s dangerous UV rays. No one likes to deal with a sunburn, and that includes your pooch. Remember sun protection for your dog and enjoy outside activities free from worry about sunburns.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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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.

Skin Disorders in Dogs: “Hot Spots”

By Anna Lee

There are several skin conditions that your dog could possibly come down with. The one I will cover in this article is Hot Spots. Another, Ringworm, will be featured in a future article. I have learned about both of these skin conditions “first paw,” so to speak. Both are easily treated with medications from your vet.

Last summer Abby developed “hot spots.” I didn’t know what to think when I first saw clumps of hair missing and red, raw patches of skin. I thought, or assumed, she had mange. Naturally I flew into a panic and called the vet. The soft, kind voice on the other end of the line told me to bring her in. The kind voice also said that from my description it didn’t sound like mange at all, which was a relief.

Being overly cautious for me usually means a vet visit. I am of the belief that if I notice something different about my dog’s physical condition, it is up to me to take action. It is my job as a responsible pet owner to keep her safe and healthy. Off to the vet we went. After an examination of the spots the vet took a skin sample and checked it under the microscope. No mange, thank goodness. She was diagnosed as having hot spots. Then I got an education from the vet regarding the causes and treatment.

The formal name for the condition is pyotraumatic dermatitis, or “hot spots.” Most of Abby’s hot spots were not in locations where she could scratch them easily. She did have one that she worked at with her nails quite vigorously. That one spot took longer to heal than the others. We were already living in our new house last August when we found the hair on the floor instead of on the dog. We had to put our trust in a new vet whom we did not know, although he was highly recommended by several sources. It turned out the recommendations were right on.

Our vet has a special mixture; the compound is his own special formula that he has made up for him in a lab. It has no name on the bottle, just directions to apply to the area twice a day. I would assume all vets have some secret potion and his is a good one. We had to put the liquid on her hot spots several times a day. Whatever is in that compound takes away the itchiness and allows the skin to heal. We also use this same liquid in her ears when she gets wax resulting from ear infections.

If you notice a clump of hair missing and the spot on your dog is round, with the skin possibly red from scratching (and sometimes it has an aroma) – then your pooch probably has hot spots.

Abby meets most of the following criteria which makes her susceptible to hot spots: she has a heavy coat, allergies, ear infections, anal gland problems, and she lives in a warm humid climate. Other causes which she doesn’t share are hair tangles, matted hair or behavior problems. Hot spots can be found on a dog’s legs and feet, flanks and rump.

Your vet may recommend over the counter “people allergy meds” to help with the allergy problems. Whatever the cause is for your particular dog, make sure to follow the vet’s recommendations and procedures to cure the problem. Don’t worry about the bald spots – once the hot spots heal the hair will grow back and fill in!

It has been almost a year since Abby’s hot spots appeared, and we have not had one since!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

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.