A good, satisfying scratch here and there is more than normal for dogs. But when it becomes excessive, and your furry friend looks like they’re constantly itchy and irritated, it could indicate an underlying skin problem.
Our dog's skin is responsible for many jobs, from protecting internal organs from the external environment to regulating temperature. So it’s crucial that we pay close attention to the health of it.
Skin issues in dogs can occur for many reasons. Below, we look at some common skin conditions, give some tips on identifying and treating them, and look at how your dog's diet can impact the health of its skin.
Dandruff and dry skin
What is dandruff?
Otherwise known as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff occurs in dogs when their sebaceous glands produce too much sebum. The excess oil can then cause an imbalance, leading to skin irritation and can be either oily or dry and flaky.
Dandruff and dry, flaky skin can occur due to several underlying factors, including environmental and nutritional.
How to identify dandruff
Dandruff in dogs is usually seen on the back, face and flanks. Dandruff often presents as white flakes of skin left behind where your pup has been sitting or lying. You may also notice your dog scratching more than usual.
Walking dandruff, or cheyletiellosis, is caused by a mite called cheyletiella. If your dog's dandruff looks like it is moving on the skin, it may indicate mites. In the event that your dog has cheyletiellosis, your vet will provide a parasiticide treatment.
How to treat dandruff
Before treating your dog for dandruff, it's important to rule out any other possible conditions. If you're not confident your dog’s irritation is due to dandruff, visit your vet to make sure.
With help from your vet, you can look at ways to improve the condition of your dog's skin barrier. Your vet may recommend treatment baths or a good shampoo and conditioner to help reduce epidermal water loss, skin dryness, and dandruff.
Treating your dog from the inside out is also important. Fish oils with EPAs and DHAs support a healthy skin barrier function.
Shop our vet recommended dandruff treatments
PAW Nutriderm 200ml Shampoo & 200ml Conditioner Twin Pack
PAW NutriDerm® Replenishing Shampoo is an innovative, advanced way to wash and care for your dog’s skin. It is a sulphate free, moisture rich, oatmeal pet shampoo that is suitable for adult dogs and cats with normal, dry and itchy skin.
PAW NutriDerm® Replenishing Conditioner is an innovative, advanced way to moisturise and provide key nutrients to your dog’s skin as well as leaving the coat silky smooth and fresh. Containing the advanced Cerasine® skin nutrient complex, this product is suitable for adult dogs and cats with normal, dry and itchy skin.
PAW Fish Oil 500 Veterinary Strength 200ml
PAW Fish Oil 500: Veterinary Strength is a concentrated blend of liquid fish oil with no added artificial colours or flavours. It contains Blackmores fish oil with omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, formulated specifically for pets based on standard ratios recommended by the US National Research Council.
- Supports maintenance of general health and wellbeing of your dog.
- Concentrated low volume formulation, reduces diarrhoea risk.
- Easy to calculate dosing.Mild fishy odour for better acceptance by pets.
- Deodorised, purified and concentrated.
- No added artificial colours or flavours.
- Mercury, Dioxin & PCB tested.
- Available in 200ml bottle with easy to dose pump dispenser
All Blackmores fish oils are tested for quality and highly purified. We source from around the world to ensure only the best goes into our bottles.
PAW Coat, Skin + Nails Multivitamin Chews 300g
PAW Coat, Skin + Nails™ Multivitamin Chews contain essential nutrients such as Biotin and Chia seeds to maintain healthy skin and coat.
Highly palatable chew formulated with tasty fish and chickpea protein that is easy to give to your pet daily to help support healthy skin, a shiny coat and strong nails.
PAW Coat, Skin + Nails™ Multivitamin tasty fish and chickpea based protein chews provide:
- Biotin and Zinc for healthy skin, coat and nails
- Chia seeds and flaxseeds (source of Omega 3 & 6) for a shiny coat
- Additional vitamins and minerals to maintain everyday health
What are skin allergies?
Many internal and external elements like food, insect bites, pollens and grasses can trigger dog allergies. The allergens can cause a dog’s immune response to kick into overdrive, resulting in an unpleasant skin reaction.
How to identify skin allergies
A symptom of a skin allergy can be excessive scratching, either in one spot or all over the body. Under your dog's fur, you may also notice red, irritated and inflamed skin, similar to how a human might react to an allergen.
How to treat skin allergies
Treatment for allergic reactions in dogs will depend on the cause of the allergy and how it affects your pup. We recommend taking your dog to the vet for a fast diagnosis and access to the correct treatment or medication.
Often, pet parents will take their dogs to the vet after they have scratched themselves badly and have a resulting infection. First, the vet will address the infection and then focus on the allergy. Allergies are rarely cured, but a good management plan can help reduce vet visits in the future.
Can dogs get insect bites?
Pets are definitely at risk of getting bites from insects. And just like us, these bites can cause painful and itchy side effects or even be fatal.
Mosquito bites, spider bites, flea bites and bee stings are common causes of skin reactions in dogs.
How to identify insect bites
It can be hard to determine if your dog has been bitten or stung by an insect unless you see it happen. Usually, an insect bite will result in a red or swollen spot, a raised bump, hives, or excessive itching or licking.
In some cases, dogs can have a severe reaction like anaphylaxis.
How to treat insect bites or stings
If your dog has a mild reaction to an insect bite, you can use a cold compress to treat the swelling and itching. You can also apply a paste of baking soda and water to the site to provide some relief.
If you think your dog has been bitten or stung by an insect and is experiencing a severe reaction like wheezing, panting, vomiting or weakness, take your pet to your vet as soon as possible.
What are parasites?
A parasite is a living organism that lives on or in a host and depends on that host for survival. Common parasites like fleas, mites, ticks and lice can all cause skin conditions in dogs.
Mange is caused by microscopic mites that lead to severe irritation and can be highly contagious.
Ticks are a nasty parasite that can transmit diseases causing paralysis. The brown dog tick carries the new and emerging disease, ehrlichiosis, which can be fatal.
How to identify skin parasites
Signs your dog may have parasites can be itching, redness, raised bumps, bleeding or oozing lesions, hair loss and excessive scratching and licking. You may even see fleas, lice, and ticks on your dog if they have a severe infestation.
How to treat skin parasites
It is vital that if you think your dog has a parasite of any kind, you treat it immediately with the appropriate medication. These will depend on the type of parasite your dog is carrying. If you believe your dog has a parasite but are unsure, consult with your vet, and they will help you with the best course of action.
The best way to avoid a parasite infestation is prevention. Keep up to date with your puppy or dog’s parasite protection treatments.
Learn everything you need to know about protecting your dog against parasites with our vet-written guide:
Shop our vet recommended parasiticides
NexGard Spectra Chewables for Large Dogs (15.1 - 30kg)
NexGard Spectra is a gentle, monthly treatment that provides your dog with excellent flea, tick, mite and worm prevention and control in a delicious soft chew. It is a delicious, gentle, monthly chew that provides your dog with excellent flea, tick, mite and worm prevention and control.
NexGard Spectra contains afoxalaner and milbemycin to provide complete protection against the most common internal and external parasites of dogs in New Zealand. Like NexGard, NexGard Spectra kills fleas fast, consistently and persistently for the entire duration of the treatment. It also treats ticks and mites. It has the added benefit of protecting against roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. When used monthly, NexGard Spectra is 100% effective in preventing flea tapeworm. As this is an oral treatment, it is not affected by bathing or swimming. Can be given with or without food. Please choose the correct weight range for your dog.
- Rapidly kills fleas
- Treats and controls ticks
- Treats and controls mange and mites
- Prevents heartworm disease
- Treats and controls roundworm, hookworm and whipworm
- Prevents flea tapeworm infestations
- Tasty monthly chew that dogs love
- Protection from 8 weeks of age and 2 kg bodyweight
Bravecto Spot On For Medium Dogs (10-20kg) 1 Pack
Bravecto Spot On provides long lasting flea and tick protection in single treatment. Bravecto breaks the flea life cycle by killing fleas before they can lay viable eggs, providing excellent control of flea infestations.
Bravecto Spot-on provides effective control of fleas on dogs within 8 hours of administration, and subsequently maintains persistent efficacy against flea re infestations
for 6 months following application.
Our long-lasting protection is now even longer. Just two doses provide full year protection against fleas and paralysis ticks.
- Rest easier with 6 months protection from fleas and paralysis ticks in one Spot-on
- Treatment and control of ear mites
- Also treats and control sarcoptic mange
- Prevents flea tapeworm infections
- Our TWIST´N´USE tube makes it quick and easy to apply
Advantage Green Puppy/Small Dog (<4kg)
Advantage Spot-On for Dogs is used for the treatment and prevention of fleas (Ctenocephalides sp.) and lice (Trichodectes canis and Linognathus setosus) on dogs.
- Larval flea stages are killed in the surroundings of treated animals.
- Reduces the incidence of flea allergy dermatitis.
- Non-staining, non-sticky topical treatment and has no strong chemical smell.
- Safe to use on pregnant and lactating animals.
- Easy to use, once a month spot-on treatment.
- Also registered for the treatment and prevention of fleas and lice on rabbits and ferrets.
Active ingredient: Imidacloprid. Presentation: tube (liquid).
For dogs under 25kg, rabbits or ferrets, apply in a single spot to the back of the neck. For dogs over 25kg divide the dose between the shoulder blades, between the hips, and at one point in between.
It is recommended that all animals living in the same environment should be treated.
- Puppies and Small Dogs up to 4kg 0.4mL (4 or 6 tubes, dark green pack);
- Dogs 4kg-10kg 1.0mL (4 or 6 tubes, aqua pack);
- Dogs 10kg-25kg 2.5mL (4 or 6 tubes, red pack);
- Large Dogs Over 25kg 4.0mL (4 or 6 tubes, blue pack)
- Rabbits, Ferrets: < 4 kg - 1 tube from dark green pack. > 4 kg - 1 tube from aqua pack.
What is ringworm?
Despite its name, ringworm isn't actually a worm. It's a fungal infection similar to athlete's foot and tinea. Ringworm is contagious, passed on by direct contact with an infected animal or person, or picked up from a contaminated surface.
Ringworm is not fatal but can cause discomfort to your dog if not treated.
How to identify ringworm
The appearance of ringworm can vary but often causes circular patches of scaly skin and sometimes brittle hair and hair loss. The area can be red or dark in colour, be inflamed, appear itchy, and sometimes have lesions.
How to treat ringworm
If you think your dog has ringworm, take them to your vet as soon as possible so you can treat it and stop the infection from passing to other people and animals.
Ringworm is typically cured with either a topical treatment or an oral medicine.
Because ringworm spores are very resilient, it’s important to keep your dog isolated until they are treated. You'll also need to clean your home thoroughly to eliminate contamination. Your vet can give you more guidance around cleaning protocols.
What are hot spots?
Hot spots are incredibly sore, itchy, inflamed areas caused by a superficial bacterial infection. They thrive in a moist environment, and because dogs lick, scratch and bite hot spots to try and relieve the discomfort, they get worse and struggle to heal.
How to identify hot spots
Hot spots are often seen around the hips, limbs and head but can also spread to other areas if left untreated. They may look red and swollen, there can be hair loss in the area, and they can ooze fluids.
These painful sores can look like other skin conditions, so if you think your dog has one, it's best to see your vet immediately.
How to treat hot spots
You will usually need to visit your vet to get hot spots under control. Your vet will usually clip and clean the infected area, apply a treatment to the site and possibly send you home with a prescription for further management.
How diet affects your dog’s skin
As the largest and one of the most vital organs your dog has, you must ensure your furry friend's skin is looked after. Through conscious choices regarding their nutrition, you can be sure your dog is getting everything they need from the inside and ensure they have healthy skin and fur.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Dog foods high in DHA and EPA are not only good for reducing dermatitis and improving coat health, but they also improve cognitive function, improve the cardiovascular system and slow cancer growth.
Other beneficial nutrients to a dog's skin and coat to look out for are zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins.
Hypoallergenic dog foods
Hypoallergenic dog foods are specially formulated to reduce the symptoms of food allergies and food intolerances in dogs.
If you think your dog has food allergies, speak to your veterinarian, who can recommend the right food.
Browse our range of dog food and nutritional products
Dry Dog Food - Vet Approved Diets
Wet Dog Food - Vet Approved
Dog Products for Skin Conditions - Vet Recommended
We all hate to see our pets suffering, and the health of our dog's skin is critical to their overall well-being. By recognising the signs of common skin conditions, preventing issues and knowing when to seek professional advice, we can ensure our pet is as healthy, comfortable and happy as possible.