5 Common Skin Problems in Dogs

brown dog lying in the grass and scratching its ear

Just like humans, dogs can have skin problems too. They may have allergies or sensitive skin, caused by pests, or a reaction to something else. If your dog is having skin issues, visiting the vet will help you figure out what is going on and the best way to help. Here are a few common skin problems in dogs:

1. Itchy Skin

Dogs can suffer from dry, flaky, and itchy skin too, and there are many reasons why dogs can be itchy. In most cases, it’s not a serious problem. Dry skin can be caused by too many baths or products that are too irritating. It could also be a case of not enough grooming, too much grooming, or of a nutrient deficiency in their diet. Many dogs also tend to get dry and flaky skin during the winter.

Dry, flaky skin can also be a symptom of allergies. In some cases, it can be a symptom of mange or other skin diseases. Generally, it’s a good idea to visit the vet and rule out anything else, especially if dry, itchy skin is a new thing for your dog.

Your vet will be able to help you determine the root cause of the itchy skin and give you some tips to help give your dog some relief. Itchy skin usually isn’t an issue, but too much scratching can cause irritation and scabs that can become infected.

2. Hot Spots

Hot spots are one of the common skin problems in dogs and are also called acute moist dermatitis. These are itchy, irritated areas that tend to be moist, red lesions. They can appear suddenly and tend to spread into large areas as your dog relentlessly licks, bites, and scratches at them to try and get relief from the itching.

Hot spots in dogs can be caused by a variety of things ranging from allergies to pests and more. You will need to visit the vet for treatment as they do require medical treatment and wound care to heal properly and prevent infection.

3. Rashes

Rashes are another one of the common skin problems in dogs and often appear on a dog’s belly. Like other skin issues, multiple things can cause a rash. Allergies, insect bites, bacterial infections, and contact dermatitis, where the skin is reacting from an irritating substance like lawn chemicals, poison ivy, etc., are the most common causes.

Contact Dermatitis

If you suspect it’s contact dermatitis, you want to wash the skin as soon as possible to remove any remaining irritant. You may also want to take your dog to the vet to make sure they haven’t licked the area and ingested any potentially dangerous irritants. The vet will also be able to provide further treatment if needed.

Bacterial Infections

Rashes that are caused by bacterial infections usually include red bumps. Red bumps can range from small to large and some may become scabbed or crusty. Red bumps could also be a secondary reaction from an allergic reaction or a symptom of Cushing’s disease. Either way, you’ll need to visit the vet for antibiotics and treatment of the underlying cause.

Insect Bites

If they are insect bites that don’t seem to be bothering your dog, and your dog is up to date on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, then you don’t need to do anything else. In this case, the rash will go away on its own.


If the rash is caused by allergies or insect bites that are bothering them, you can try a cool bath with a dog-friendly shampoo that contains colloidal oatmeal. If the rash is still around and doesn’t seem to be improving, you should visit the vet even if it doesn’t seem to be bothering your dog.

4. Red Spots

Although rashes can include red spots, not all red spots would be considered rashes and they often indicate different things. Like rashes, red spots can also be caused by allergies or insect bites. Typically, red spots caused by insect bites are either black fly bites or ringworm.

Black Fly Bites

During the late spring and early summer, black fly bites often cause red spots on a dog’s belly. They are typically red, flat, and do not tend to bother your dog. They also tend to be confined to the belly area, appear suddenly, and may also be accompanied by other bites. They do not generally require treatment and will go away on their own eventually.


Ringworm in dogs is also characterized by red spots, but these can appear anywhere on your dog. Sometimes, they will irritate your dog, and sometimes they don’t. If they are irritating your dog, they may chew, lick, or bite the area, which can lead to inflammation and hair loss.

Ringworm usually also starts in one place and spreads instead of many spots showing up at once as black fly bites do. If you suspect your dog has ringworm, you will need to visit the vet as oral or topical antifungals are needed to treat it.

5. Hair Loss

Hair loss in dogs can be caused by a variety of things. Ringworm, skin mites, fleas, and other pests can cause hair loss and are considered contagious causes. Protecting your dog from fleas can help prevent the issues they cause. Treatment at the vet can help with the others.

Dogs can also lose fur due to non-contagious causes, like allergies, some fungal or bacterial infections, and hormonal conditions. Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, and alopecia X are all hormonal conditions that can cause hair loss in dogs. You will need to visit the vet so they can determine the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.

These are just a few common skin problems in dogs. Having an idea of what might be going on can help you help your dog until you can get them to the vet. From there, your vet will be able to determine what’s going on and provide treatments or tips to help.