Although general veterinarians are capable of treating a wide range of ailments, there are times when your dog really should see a veterinary dermatologist—someone who specializes in the treatment of conditions related to the skin. Here are a few signs it's time to give one of these specialists a call.
1. Your dog's skin is itchy and flaky.
There are many possible causes of flaky, itchy skin in dogs. The dog may simply have a case of walking dandruff, which is really caused by a specific type of mites, or they might be having an allergic reaction to their food or something in the environment. Narrowing down the possible causes of the symptoms can be cumbersome, but a veterinary dermatologist will guide you through this. They will systematically have you eliminate various elements from your dog's diet and routine, observing how each change affects your dog's symptoms. Once they arrive at the cause of the itchiness, they can recommend a treatment, which might be anything from steroid pills to an insecticide.
2. Your dog has pimples.
Dogs can get acne, too. And as with acne in people, the breakouts can be painful and annoying. This may cause the dog to scratch the acne breakouts, which might make them worse and lead to secondary infections. Acne is caused, at least in part, by bacteria. So typically, a veterinary dermatologist will prescribe a course of antibiotics in addition to some topical treatments to keep your dog's acne under control. Often, if you can break the cycle of itching and re-irritation while also killing the bacteria on the skin, you can cure the acne or at least reduce it considerably.
3. Your dog is losing hair.
If your dog is losing hair, they could have an infestation of fleas or a fungal infection like ringworm. Some dogs also suffer from a condition called psychogenic alopecia, in which they pull out their own hair as a symptom of depression or anxiety. A veterinary dermatologist can take some skin scrapings and observe your dog's behavior to arrive at a diagnosis. Once they've addressed the main cause of the hair loss, they can prescribe a cream or gel that will help encourage the hair to grow back.
If your dog is dealing with any of the issues above, make an appointment with a pet dermatology clinic. Your regular vet should be able to give you a referral and recommend someone in your area.