How to Identify a Dog Rash

By Jen Davis

Your dog's skin and coat are a strong indicator of his overall health. A wide variety of skin conditions can affect your dog, making him uncomfortable and itchy. You will need to work together with your veterinarian to determine the cause of your dog's rash so that your veterinarian can help your dog to feel better.

Identifying a Rash

A skin rash is essentially defined as any area of skin that is swollen or irritated. If your dog has a rash, you probably will notice him scratching, licking or chewing the affected area of skin. If you examine the area, you may see that the skin is red, inflamed, swollen, scabby, lumpy, discolored, dry, flaky, bald and may show signs of wounds, pus, drainage or lesions. If you notice one of more of these symptoms, it is important that you take your dog to the veterinarian promptly so the condition can be treated.

Canine Skin Problems

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that skin irritation can occur for a variety of reasons including fleas, ringworm, ear mites, mange, lice, allergies, bacterial infections, skin infections, hormone problems and even an allergic reaction to products you used to groom your dog. If your dog is licking and scratching at the affected area, he can make the condition worse and cause secondary problems, such as an additional skin infection.

Diagnosing Your Dog's Rash

To treat your dog's rash, you will have to treat the underlying cause. While some dog breeds may be more likely to experience certain skin problems, there are a number of possible causes for your dog's rash that have nothing to do with his breed. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition that is causing your dog's rash by performing a physical examination. He may take skin scrapings, examine your dog's hair or even perform a biopsy to determine the underlying problem. Once you have a diagnosis, your veterinarian will be able to prescribe the proper method of treatment. It is essential that you let your veterinarian make final diagnosis and not try to diagnose your pet yourself. Some conditions, such as ringworm and mange, are highly contagious and can spread to both humans and other animals.

Treating Your Dog's Rash

Your veterinarian will prescribe treatment for your dog that is specific to the ailment causing his rash. If your dog is suffering from parasites, he most likely will be prescribed a topical medication in the form of a shampoo, dip or ointment. If the condition is fungal, such as ringworm, your pet will receive an anti-fungal medication. If the rash is caused by an infection, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. If your dog has developed the rash due to an allergic reaction, your veterinarian likely will recommend removing the allergens from his environment. He may give your dog a prescription to help treat the rash symptoms.