Scaling Dog Skin
There are several potential underlying causes

Scaling dog skin can often be confused as just dry skin, but it is often a lot more than just dry skin.

It is something that should be treated very seriously in your pet as it could be caused by an underlying condition that could jeopardize their overall health and in severe cases, cost them their lives.


Scaling may be flaking skin or dandruff, cracked skin which could lead to skin sores or bacterial infections.

However, whatever the underlying condition, it will develop into just more than scratching and itching of the part of your dog.

Just like humans, scaling dog skin is not normal and it is started by something.

Here are some of the potential causes of scaling skin.

Solar Dermatosis

This potential cause is the reaction of your pet’s skin to sunlight especially non-pigmented skin or white skin.

Dogs that are affected with this condition usually have thin hair and are almost always white such as Dalmatians, White Boxers or Terriers as well as Pit Bulls.

However, it can also affect small breeds of dogs that have thinner skin.

Beagle eyesScaling dog skin has numerous potential causes

With this condition the affected areas will at first become reddened and then the skin will become very scaly and clumps of hair may start to fall out.

If the exposure to the sun continues without protection the skin will than start to thicken and develop red bumps, plaques, and nodules.

These nodules can very easily become ulcerated and crusty.

The best means of treatment will be to keep your dog out of the sun during peak hours.

Steroids may be used as well as an oral retinoid that contains vitamin A.

Some breeds of dogs may be affected just on the nose in which case you can cover their nose with a band aid or sun screen.


Seborrhea can cause very dry scaling dog skin or a wet scaling skin that is very stinky. It can be inherited or a secondary form that may be the result of some type of an allergy.

The scaling effect on your dog will depend on the type. With the dry form scaling will occur very rapidly and make your pet subject to infections very easily once your pet starts to scratch.

The oily form will cause the same itching problem but it will also cause a very strong odor. Either form can develop into loss of hair very easily.

The treatment will be determined on the underlying cause and will usually include anti-biotic shampoos as well as fatty acid supplements.


The type of scaling dog skin is caused by a decreased production of the thyroid hormone and is the most common hormone imbalance found in dogs.

Their initial scaling affect in your dog can lead to some very serious skin conditions as over 90 percent of all dogs affected will have some type of skin abnormality

Over 50 percent of dogs affected with this condition will have severe hair loss after the scaling and will usually start at the tail of your dog.

Skin infections will also be very common.

In some severe cases the coat will become so brittle and scaling that most of the hair will literally break off leaving your dog with a very short puppy like coat.

The only form of treatment will be a lifetime on thyroid supplementation.


This cause of scaling dog skin is often caused by a staph infection and is most common in puppies.

The scaling will be localized and will lead to pustules that at first may appear to be acme.

Pustules are small inflamed pus filled pockets that often lead to lesions.

But as this condition spreads it can lead to crusting and wider bands of scaling.

Benzoyl and hydrogen peroxide in a topical form are used in the treatment along with Vitamin A.

If it is serious, antibiotics may be administered, but in most all cases your puppy will outgrow the condition.

Flea Allergies

One of the most common forms of scaling dog skin is caused by allergies from flea bites.

The first symptoms will be scaling but it will rapidly change to an intense itching and as a result of the itching, hair loss will occur.

Crusting of the skin will than develop, as well as papules as the skin is attacked and infected.

Papules are more severe than pustules in that they are solid small rounded bumps that rise from the skin.

They usually do not carry fluid like a pustule and can last much longer.

Treatment will of course be with flea control as well as antihistamines for the itching.

Vitamin B-1 or Thiamine can also be used as it is an extremely effective flea repellent in dogs as fleas absolutely hate the taste of Thiamine.

Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia

This is an inherited condition that can affect any breed of dog as well as any crossed breed that has a coat that is more than one color.

It will almost always start out as scaling dog skin but develops very rapidly into hair loss in the pigmented or dark haired areas of puppies.

The hair loss continues until these spots are completely bald.

It is found predominately in Basset Hound, Bearded Collie, Dachshund, Jack Russell Terrier, Pointer, and Saluki puppies.

Only than medicated shampoo for the scaling, there is no known treatment at this time.


Scaling dog skin is also the first symptom in ringworm infections.

However, it soon progresses to crusting, pustules, and vesicles which are small fluid filled blisters.

These are especially dangerous as they can than develop into infections called kerion nodules.

These nodules can become inflamed and pus filled and if they burst, can spread very rapidly.

If severe, they can lead to a very high fever in your dog.

Treatment will be with lime sulfur dips or miconazole dips until the ringworm infection is resolved.

What is also very dangerous about this infection is that as your dog scratches the infected area it can develop into dark patches on the skin and also spread more infection.


There are several other underlying causes of scaling dog skin such as Cushing disease, Red, Puppy, and Sarcoptic Manage just to name a few.

It is very important as owners that you do not treat scaling the same as dry skin.

You need to watch it very closely as it almost always has a more sinister underlying cause that can affect your dog a lot more seriously than just dry or scaling skin.

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