Nothing is worse than watching your beloved furry friend suffer from illness or pain. This is especially true for dogs, as their loyal dispositions and empathetic personalities make them valued members of our families, and many refer to them as their fur babies.
In this article, we will discuss a set of common canine health problems - inflammatory skin conditions. Though some breeds are more prone to skin issues, all dogs can suffer from them. Still, as a pet owner, it helps to know which breeds are more prone to skin problems and why.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Many inflammatory skin conditions affect dogs, and the symptoms of these can vary widely in dogs, just as in humans.
If you're concerned that your canine is suffering from a skin problem, you may notice frequent scratching, irritation, redness, biting at their skin, hair loss, scabs, lumps, flaky skin, and unpleasant smells.
It's important to understand that various conditions can cause these symptoms and it can be challenging to diagnose the exact issue just by looking at your dog. However, if you notice your dog displaying any of the above symptoms, it's best to contact your vet immediately to diagnose and treat the problem.
For more information about the causes and symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions, please read Sensitive skin, Allergies or Atopic Dermatitis.
Dog Breeds Prone to Inflammatory Skin Conditions
As we mentioned, certain dog breeds are more prone to inflammatory skin conditions than others. Let's look at these breeds and discuss why each is at a higher risk of developing skin issues.
Like other brachycephalic dogs, Pugs are prone to breathing and skin problems. Their adorable skin folds make it easy to develop infections and skin allergies when gunk or moisture gets trapped. Sadly, the breed is also predisposed to a myriad of other health issues, many of which affect their skin, such as:
- Food Allergy:Some pugs develop dermatitis and skin conditions from food allergies. If you suspect this is the problem, consider switching to hypoallergenic foods.
- Environmental Allergy:Some breeds, such as the pug, are more prone to environmental allergies. Symptoms of this condition appear around the stomach, paws, and other areas affected by the allergen.
- Mange:Demodex mites thrive in your dog's hair follicles. Healthy dogs generally do not have issues with these mites, as the immune system keeps their numbers in check. However, it's not uncommon for pugs to become immunocompromised and develop mange.
- Pyoderma: Pugs are also prone to a condition known as lip-fold pyoderma because the folds of skin around their bottom jaw are usually moist. Yeast and bacteria can thrive in this area and cause skin infections.
The Chinese Shar Pei is known for its gorgeous, sandy-coloured wrinkly skin. However, this is another breed that's at high risk of developing skin issues such as allergies, irritations, and fungi.
Skin irritations are among the most common health conditions in Shar Peis and are generally caused by a combination of environmental irritants and having a dirty coat. Here are other skin conditions to watch for in Shar Peis:
- Fungi: Fungi can appear on your dog's skin for various reasons. Yet, with this breed, it's usually due to their wrinkles and folds constantly rubbing against each other. Fungal infections can occur on your dog's armpits, groin, and elsewhere.
- Allergies: Like pugs, Shar Peis are prone to environmental or food allergies.
- Folliculitis: This condition affects short-coated dog breeds and is usually accompanied by hair loss. Folliculitis can be caused by Staphylococcus intermedius, a bacteria that lives on dogs' skin. Healthy dogs are not commonly affected by this condition, but it can appear in dogs with suppressed immune systems.
Bulldog is a general reference that may refer to English or American Bulldogs. Regardless, both breeds are at a higher risk of developing skin problems at some point in their lives.
American Bulldogs tend to suffer from environmental and food allergies but can also develop canine ichthyosiform dermatoses. This disease is caused by a rare genetic defect and is visible when the dogs are still young. Watch your dog's groin, armpits, and belly for the sudden appearance of a scaly, reddish rash.
Like other wrinkly breeds, the English bulldog is susceptible to inflammation-related conditions appearing in the skin folds. Furthermore, English bullies under the age of four are at a higher risk of skin tumours known as histiocytomas.
Spaniels are loyal and make wonderful family pets, but owners should be aware that they are prone to inflammatory skin conditions. They commonly suffer from lip-fold and ear infections. Here are some other common skin conditions that are common among spaniels:
- Seborrhea: This illness causes overproduction of skin cells which leads to patches of skin that are either dry or oily.
- Allergies:Spaniel breeds are also at a higher risk of developing allergies from food or other environmental factors.
- Hypothyroidism: Some spaniels are predisposed to hypothyroidism, which can lead to chronic skin problems and other related illnesses since the thyroid hormone controls the metabolic rate for every cell in the body. Without thyroid hormone, everything slows down, and the effects on the skin become most obvious. Hair loss with dandruff and pigmentation are common
Poodles are popular pets known for their intelligence, loyalty, and hypoallergenic coats. Yet, just because they don't cause allergic reactions in humans doesn't mean these dogs are safe from developing inflammatory skin conditions.
Some poodles are born with a hereditary condition known as granulomatous sebaceous adenitis. This disease affects the dog's oil glands and leads to hair loss, which can give your dog a "moth-eaten" appearance.
While some treatments can ease the symptoms of this condition, the outcomes can vary from dog to dog. However, many owners have found that omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin-A therapy, frequent baths, and dietary hemp seed oil, in combination with antifungals and antibiotics if your vet prescribes them work well to help control inflammatory skin conditions in dogs.
Labrador Retrievers are a favourite dog breed among many and are particularly susceptible to skin problems. Experts believe this could be because the Labrador's immune system produces more immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies than other breeds. This allergic antibody causes the immune system's cells to release histamines when the dog comes into contact with an allergen. As the dog's body does this, an allergy is developed from the body’s over-reactive defence system.
Labradors are also prone to developing acute moist dermatitis (AKA Pyotraumatic dermatitis, Hot Spot, Wet eczema), especially in humid environments. This usually appears as a patch of skin that's red and irritated and moist. The most common areas where dermatitis can occur are around your dog's tail and face, as dirt, debris, and trapped moisture can collect in these areas.
Hemp Seed Oil for Inflammatory Skin Conditions
In human studies, the consumption of hempseed oil has been shown to be effective in improving the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. The improvements resulted from the optimal balanced and abundant supply of polyunsaturated fatty acids in hempseed oil.
Rich in vitamin E (antioxidant) and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), hemp seed oil helps to reduce skin inflammation, modulate a healthy immune response to allergens and invaders, and boost your dog’s first line of defence, the skin barrier. Hemp seed oil can also be applied topically to the affected areas, providing soothing relief to itchy skin.
The Bottom Line
In the end, if you have a dog breed prone to inflammatory skin conditions, you must be vigilant about regularly checking and cleaning your dog's skin and coat. Always consult with your dog's veterinarian for the best course of action or to answer any health-related questions you may have.
 Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. J Dermatolog Treat. 2005 Apr;16(2):87-94. doi: 10.1080/0954663 0510035832. PMID: 16019622.