What Does My Dog’s Skin and Fur Say About Her Health?

What can I do to keep my dog flea-free?

A. "Flea control revolves around treating all the pets in a household, because they're all being bitten by fleas — even if they aren’t having allergic reactions to the bites. There are both spot-on and oral medications that are effective against fleas. Ask your veterinarian which ones she recommends for your dog."

Are there any skin or hair conditions that owners of senior pets should know about?

A. "In older dogs, crusting or splitting of the footpads can indicate internal disease. It’s a rare condition, but footpad problems — along with limping or lameness — can be a sign that a dog has a disease of the liver or the pancreas."

How can I keep my dog's skin and hair healthy?

A. "Feed your dog a balanced diet, in consultation with your veterinarian. And bathe her as necessary — when she gets dirty — with a mild veterinary shampoo."

When should an owner bring her dog to see a veterinary dermatologist?

A. "It depends, but basically anytime routine treatments do not help the pet, a referral for a second opinion is a good idea. Referrals from a general practitioner are not necessary, but it’s always wise to loop in everyone involved in a pet's health care. Your veterinarian is also a great place to look for additional information about skin and hair care."

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