Causes of Canine Eczema
Canine skin can become inflamed for any number of reasons, including contact with, ingestion of or inhalation of chemical, plant, dust or other substances; mechanical irritants, inclement weather conditions (extreme heat, cold, dryness or humidity); parasite or insect bites; poor nutrition; and viral, bacterial, fungal or yeast-based infections, among other things. Many times, the superficial sores associated with eczema are caused by self-trauma (licking, biting, chewing, scratching, rubbing), such as in response to fleas, lice, mites or other external parasites.
So-called skin allergies, medically referred to as atopy or atopic dermatitis, can also lead to the classic skin lesions of eczema. Atopy is a largely hereditary autoimmune disorder in which the dog develops a highly itchy (pruritic) reaction to environmental stimuli that normally do not cause that reaction in other dogs. Eczema is sometimes associated with systemic illness as well.
Since eczema is not an illness or disease, it is difficult to discuss preventing it without addressing its underlying cause – which, as described above, can be wide-ranging and highly diverse. If flea infestation is causing the skin irritation, appropriate steps should be taken to remove fleas from the dog’s environment. If immune-mediated allergies are involved, the veterinarian can suggest a diagnostic protocol to identify the source of those allergies. If the dog has contact allergies to chemical substances, it should be kept away from those substances. Basically, preventing the symptoms of eczema requires a persistent hunt for the cause of the condition in the individual dog.
The symptoms of skin irritation and inflammation in dogs are especially difficult for many owners to deal with, in part because their pets are so obviously in discomfort and sometimes the cause of the condition are quite difficult to identify. However, with persistence and a good local veterinarian, most cases can be managed.