Eczema is an inflammation of the outer layers of your dog's skin that can be precipitated by a variety of factors. Allergies, infections, irritations and even some diseases can cause the dry, flaky, itching skin. A veterinary examination can ensure a correct diagnosis of your dog's problem and help zero in on the underlying cause.
Dry Versus Wet Eczema
Dry eczema is characterized by patches of irritated, scaly skin. The condition can cause your dog to lick, bite, scratch and chew the bothersome areas. This behavior can lead to a wet form of eczema, or hot spots, which are open sores that are prone to infection if left untreated. If this occurs, your pup likely will need to wear a protective Elizabethan collar as part of his treatment to restrain him from continued licking.
Eczema can develop from seasonal allergies, food allergies or allergic reactions to flea and insect bites. Your vet may recommend experimental dietary changes to rule out food allergies. He may prescribe canine antihistamines, steroids or anti-inflammatories to reduce itching and irritation from hay fever or pollen allergens. Flea shampoo and a household flea elimination and prevention regime can help control the problem.
Infections and Medical Issues
Fungal infections such as ringworm, bacterial overgrowth or yeast infections can lead to skin irritation. Ringworm is a highly contagious zoonotic infection that has a distinctive raised red circular pattern of lesions and is treated with anti-fungal medications. Yeast infection may be present if you observe oily, flaky patches that have a musty odor. More serious medical conditions and skin disorders present with symptoms similar to eczema, making a medical diagnosis a necessity. Mange, atopic dermatitis, immune system disorder or a hormonal imbalance may be the culprit.
Eczema Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet may take skin cultures or run blood panels to narrow the underlying cause of your dog's eczema and determine an appropriate treatment. Antibiotics may be prescribed for broken or infected skin, while medicated shampoos and topical creams can ease discomfort. Natural remedies also may be helpful. Oatmeal paste and washes made from chamomile or green tea can ease itching and irritation. Consult a holistic vet before using homeopathic remedies, and avoid over-the-counter creams, lotions or ointments made for people -- they could be toxic to your dog.