What Is My Dogs Skin Rash and How To Best Treat It?

A skin rash can be a frustrating condition to get to the bottom of. Some will respond to little more than symptomatic treatment while others will need a full investigation and take lots of time and effort to get to the bottom of and manage successfully.

What is my dog's rash and what should I do?

So the question is about a rash on the tail. It seemed like a hotspot at first, caused itching, licking and gnawing. The owner went to the vet, they were prescribed an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory and it seemed to improve at first, but now it seems to be irritating and is spreading, but their dog is otherwise active and happy.

So skin conditions can be incredibly frustrating and I say that all the time when I first see a skin condition. A lot of the time they clear up very well without being seen again, but when we've got chronic, longstanding skin rashes, skin lesions, then it can be very frustrating to try and get to the bottom of that. So that's the first thing that I would say.

Now a skin rash can be caused by many different things and that could be just a wound, an insect bite, skin allergy or parasites like fleas and mites and various other conditions as well.

Now, surface infections can be treated very successfully with topical medication, but deep skin infections can require many weeks of antibiotic tablets to cure. So if it's getting worse, we want to be certain that there's not a deep infection that needs antibiotic tablets to treat and to cure.

Also, whenever initial symptomatic treatment fails, then it's important to try and get to the bottom of the underlying cause. And that can involve taking a detailed history that includes recent parasite control, diet, previous skin complaints, and then also we can take samples. So that could be skin and hair samples for example, that are then looked at under the microscope or sent off to the laboratory to look for bacterial or fungal disease that might be present. And different diseases, especially when it comes to fungal diseases are prevalent in different parts of the world. Parasites also, you get parasitic and parasite transmitted disease so it's not just fleas and ticks, but it could be skin diseases that are spread by insect bites, that kind of thing.

Other more uncommon causes of skin rashes can also include problems with the immune system (that are different to allergies), drug reactions and even some types of cancer.

And then the final thing to mention is that if a dog or a cat continue to lick a problem area during the start of treatment, then there’s the potential that no treatment is going to get that under control because they're going to be continually damaging their skin and that's just going to perpetuate that irritation and it sets up this vicious cycle where they’re itchy, they lick or they scratch which causes temporary relief but causes more skin damage and then causes more itchiness.

So to stop that from happening an Elizabethan Buster collar might be needed, a cone of shame or the area might need to be covered with a bandage or something similar just to prevent them from causing further damage although clearly that's not a long-term solution. We should be looking at determining what the cause of the skin lesion is and actually treating that specifically and effectively.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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