Ditch the itch

If Fido keeps scratching or constantly smells funky, he’s definitely overdue for a vet visit. Here are some skin conditions that commonly plague pooches living in Singapore.
By Sheryl Lau
Published on Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Singapore’s muggy climate is bad news for pooches that are prone to skin ailments as it encourages the proliferation of bacteria or yeast on the epidermis.

While some skin conditions are a result of genetic predisposition and can only be controlled with an appropriate treatment plan, zoonotic skin diseases can usually be cured. Unfortunately, the latter can also be transmitted to paw-rents.

Most canine skin problems either result from or are exacerbated by allergens such as dust mites, cleaning products, wheat, and soy. Your pup’s allergen list might be quite lengthy, and many of them can be found in specific foods or the environment.

To effectively tackle your furkid’s skin issues, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional and discuss a treatment plan with your vet and groomer.

Yeast feast
Just like humans, a small amount of malassezia yeast normally lives on the surface of Fido’s skin and ears. However, when a canine’s immune system is weak, yeast growth can go into overdrive and lead to an infection. “It tends to affect oily, moist, waxy or scaly skin areas, including the ears,” says Dr Chan Vee Vien from The Joyous Vet. “Malassezia infection may be due to underlying primary problems such as allergies, atopic dermatitis and seborrhoea. In such cases, if the underlying problem is not wellcontrolled, it will likely recur periodically,” adds Dr Chan.

Breeds like Pugs and English Bulldogs have skin folds that can accumulate dirt, food and tears, making them more prone to bacterial infections. “This combo of
bacteria and moisture forms a cheese-like substance with a foul odour,” says Dr Paul Mitchell from Animal Recovery Referral Centre. Hence, it is important to wipe
your pooch’s facial creases at least once daily to prevent infection. 

SYMPTOMS: A rancid odour, flaky and greasy skin, and/or fur loss.
BREEDS: Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Labrador Retriever, Pomeranian, Poodle, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Pug, English Bulldog, and Shetland Sheepdog.
TREATMENTS: An ongoing long-term treatment will be required for furry sufferers. A medicated shampoo needs to be used once to twice weekly with 10 to 15 minutes contact time before being rinsed off. Serious infections require oral anti-fungal and anti-itch medications.

Itchy allergies
The ingredients present in your pupper’s food and dust in your living environment could be the reasons for his bald patches and skin redness. However, in order to identify your dog’s food allergies, a food elimination trial is essential. Dr Colin Chin from The Animal Ark Veterinary Group shares how it’s done: “It involves feeding a novel diet that comprises one protein and one carbohydrate to which the dog has had little to no exposure to for at least eight to 12 weeks. At this point, foods can be re-added one at a time to retest exactly which food item a pet is sensitive to.”

As the skin is an important barrier against allergens, skin damaged by scratching could allow typically harmless substances in the environment such as dust or pollen to gain entry and trigger allergies in your furkid.

SYMPTOMS: Rashes, fur loss, and inflamed skin.
BREEDS: German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Shar Pei, Chow Chow, English Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Jack Russell Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and Shih Tzu.
TREATMENTS: Food elimination trial complemented by anti-itch medications.

For more common skin conditions, flip to Body & Soul (pg 54) of our Aug/Sept 2017 issue!