Tackling common skin disorder in dogs

Vet’s Voice

SEBORRHOEA or seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin disorder in which the sebaceous glands of the skin produce an excessive amount of sebum.

Seborrhoea typically affects the back, face and flanks causing scaly, flaky, itchy, red skin. There are two types of seborrhoea, called seborrhoea sicca meaning dry seborrhoea, and seborrhoea oleosa (oily seborrhea). Most dogs with seborrhoeic dermatitis have a combination of dry and oily seborrhea.

In dogs, seborrhoea usually affects skin areas that are rich in sebaceous glands, especially the skin along the back. The affected areas of skin often flake off in whitish scales (dandruff) that can be seen on the dog’s bedding and other places where the dog lies. Some skin areas may be red and inflamed, with either a dry or an oily feel to the lesions. The dermatitis may be worse in areas with skin folds such as the feet, neck, lips, armpits, thighs, and underside. Many dogs will have an odour associated with seborrhea. This odour is usually worsened if the seborrhoea is complicated by a secondary bacterial or yeast skin infection.

In some cases, the exact cause of seborrhoea cannot be determined (called idiopathic seborrhoea). Seborrhoea is often related to an underlying medical problem, such as hormonal imbalances, allergies, parasites (internal and external), fungal infections, dietary abnormalities, environmental factors (temperature, humidity changes), and obesity.

Treatment is aimed at the underlying cause. If no underlying cause can be found, then a diagnosis of primary or idiopathic seborrhoea is made. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for primary seborrhoea. The prognosis for seborrhoea is based on your dog’s specific condition and severity. The prognosis is better if an underlying cause has been identified and treated.

Your veterinarian will discuss a diagnostic and treatment plan for your dog to help you manage this common and often frustrating condition.


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