Eczema in dogs is an inflammation of the skin and is broadly divided into two forms: dry eczema and moist eczema (hot spots).
Certain breeds seem to be more susceptible to eczema. Corgis, Scotch terriers, pointers, and golden retrievers are among those commonly treated. More importantly, the susceptibility seems to run in certain strains within a breed. Short-haired and long-haired dogs seem equally susceptible.
How do I know if my dog has eczema?
Canine eczema is not infectious to man or to other animals, but irritates the dog, making it scratch the affected part. This further inflames the skin and so the scratching/itching cycle begins.
This form may be seen in various sites on the body surface but commonly the face and ears are the first to show signs. The skin becomes scaly and wrinkled, the hair falls out over an irregular area due to continual scratching, biting and rubbing. Many cases become bleeding raw areas before they finally dry up to the scaly, scurfy appearance.
Moist eczema (hot spots)
As a result of licking and biting the surface becomes very red, covered with numerous minute blisters which rupture and bathe the area with a serous fluid giving it a glistening appearance. Itchiness is intense and the poor animal forgets all else to bite, scratch or rub on any convenient object in a vain endeavor to obtain relief. Appetite is impaired and loss of condition occurs.
Treatment for dogs with eczema
The cure consists of external and internal medication. On its own, external lotions are seldom efficient as they only treat the symptoms. The whole object is to remove the underlying cause.
For complex cases, the veterinary surgeon’s advice should be followed in order to help clear up the condition.
Where external parasites, lice, fleas, ticks, or harvest mites are responsible, use the benzene hexachloride insecticides. In all cases, a purgative is indicated especially where the cause of the condition has been proved due to habitual constipation.
Where eczema affects the scrotum or vulval region, particular care must be taken in the cleansing operation as considerable pain can be caused by eczema in these regions.
Where eczema affects the feet, causing inflammation and suppuration between the toes, the foot should first be washed in warm, soapy water followed by an astringent solution, then, after drying, applying a soothing ointment. The foot should then be bandaged carefully.
A meat diet has generally proved more suitable than starchy foods but often a complete change of diet to green vegetables has given interesting results.
Dogs with eczema should not be bathed nor should irritant soaps or dressings of any kind come in contact with the skin. No skin disease can be thoroughly treated without the removal of the hair although this is often a painful and difficult task in moist eczema. It may be assisted by sprinkling and swabbing the area with warm water particularly where the hair is matted.
In selected cases, ultra-violet irradiation gives considerable relief and effects a rapid cure.
Where the lesions are intensely painful cold lotions to the skin cause considerable pain and then it is desirable to warm the medications prior to use.
There are available soothing lotions and ointments incorporating the anti-allergic principles causing eczema which are now being used with good results.
It will be necessary to protect the lesions by means of a jacket or coat to prevent interference by the subject – a muzzle may have to be used.
What to feed a dog with eczema
Summarizing the condition, we see that a well-balanced diet is essential to eliminate this predisposing cause, see that adequate vitamins are present (especially Vitamin B).
Diet should be rich and nourishing, with very little in the way of biscuit, while some meals should be of raw beef and include green vegetables or cod liver oil in the diet.
You don’t see much eczema in a kennel where plenty of raw meat is consumed. Trouble could be avoided if puppies were taught to eat raw meat regularly instead of being fed only cooked meat.
Many people expect their dogs to keep healthy by giving them anything, and we all know from personal observation that many dogs so fed lead healthy and long lives. But it does not mean that all dogs have similar constitutions.
Keep parasites down, prevent constipation, and obtain early advice if a cure is to be obtained. Finally, do not be discouraged if in spite of diligent treatment eczema reappears again.