Seborrhea in dogs is a condition which upsets a natural skin process known as keratinization. The result is skin which gradually thickens over time and becomes scaly, oily, and crusty. Seborrhea can cause extremely uncomfortable and painful skin conditions, and treatments should begin as soon as possible to reduce any discomfort and pain that the dog may be feeling.
Causes of Seborrhea in Dogs
Primary seborrhea is a genetically inherited disorder which begins to appear when the dog is generally less than 2 years old. American Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labradors, and West Highlands Terriers are breeds which have increased risks for developing primary seborrhea.
Secondary seborrhea is generally the result of skin allergies (often caused by parasitic bites from fleas, ticks, or mites), hormonal imbalances, or diseases such as hypothyroidism. In many cases, dogs with primary seborrhea are predisposed to developing secondary seborrhea as well.
Symptoms of Seborrhea in Dogs
The symptoms of seborrhea include oily or greasy skin and hair coat, skin inflammation, scaly or flaky skin, thickening skin, excessive licking and scratching of the skin, and in severe cases oily crusts which form on the skin.
While there is no specific test for seborrhea, it is generally diagnosed through symptoms, pet history, microscopic examination of the skin, and blood tests to rule out any other disease or to identify a contributing disease to the condition.
Treating Seborrhea in Dogs
Treatments include prescription medicated shampoos which contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, tar, and benzoyl peroxide. A veterinarian will need to determine the extent and type of seborrhea present to prescribe the right shampoo for the dog’s condition.
Outlook for Dogs with Seborrhea
The treatment for seborrhea is good, however most dogs with this disorder will require continued medicated baths, nutritional support such as omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and consistent parasite control to reduce future seborrhea outbreaks.