Eczema is not difficult to diagnose. However, the cause of this inflammatory skin condition can be very difficult to diagnose and is one of the reasons that eczema, like so many skin disorders, is unusually frustrating for pet owners.
Eczema is diagnosed based on visual inspection of the affected dog’s skin. The challenge is to identify the cause of the condition. Food elimination trials can be used under a veterinarian’s supervision to identify particular allergens in a dog’s diet. Allergy (hypersensitivity) testing can be done to try and track down the source of environmental inhalant or contact skin reactions. Ectoparasites such as fleas, ticks, mites and lice can be identified through skin scrapings and visual inspection. Systemic diseases that cause skin symptoms require special diagnostic protocols addressed separately under those particular disorders. Bacterial culture and sensitivity tests and fungal cultures are available, and microscopic examination of hair can identify causative organisms as well. Sometimes a skin biopsy will be recommended, although this is more commonly used to assess isolated lumps or bumps on the skin.