Canine skin conditions come in many varieties and are very common. Some are temporary and are treated easily with topical medications or antibiotics, while other problems are chronic and require a change in daily habits.
According to PetMD, there are over 160 different canine skin disorders which require a variety of treatments. Hot spots are perhaps the most common problem. Symptoms include a patch of red, inflamed skin that the dog frequently licks or chews. The affected area is treated by clipping the hair, keeping it clean and applying topical antibiotics. For some hot spots, a course of oral antibiotics is necessary.
Chronic dermatitis is another frequently occurring problem. It manifests as itchy and irritated skin, either locally or over the entire coat. It can be caused by fleas or mites, in which case the treatment is as simple as eliminating the parasites. It can also be caused by food or environmental allergies. An allergic flare-up that results in dermatitis is initially treated with antihistamines and sometimes steroids to calm the immune response. Next, common allergens present in the dog's life are removed or mitigated. Common allergens include many food ingredients, such as chicken, beef and soy. Environmental allergens are typically related to pollen or laundry detergent. Once the skin is calm, potential allergic triggers can be re-introduced to the dog on an individual basis. Any trigger that does not cause skin irritation after about a month can be considered a non-issue; any trigger that does cause skin irritation should be permanently removed from the dog's environment.
Skin disorders in dogs can lead to further infection and illness if not properly treated. Any skin condition that is not responding promptly to home treatment should be seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian.