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Exfoliative dermatoses refers to a group of skin disorders that can be traced to one or more underlying disorders, which share the common symptom of scaling skin, but may vary in severity and treatment methods. Therefore, exfoliative dermatoses is not the primary diagnosis, but the main descriptor. It is typically due to excessive or abnormal shedding, excessive accumulation of skin cells, or a loss of the cells' ability to adhere to each other.
This condition can affect dogs of any breed or age, but there are some breeds that are reported to be more prone to it. Cocker spaniels, West Highland white terriers, English springer spaniels, basset hounds, Irish setters, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, chow chows, poodles, Yorkshire terriers, whippets, Great Danes, salukis, Italian greyhounds, standard poodles, Akitas, Samoyeds, and golden retrievers.
If your dog is pregnant, you will need to make your veterinarian aware immediately, as some medications for the skin can have an impact on the developing fetus.
You will need to give a detailed history of your dog’s health, and the onset and nature of the symptoms. In order to find the underlying cause for the skin disorder, your veterinarian will perform several tests. Because there are so many possible causes for this condition, your veterinarian will most likely use differential diagnosis. This process is guided by deeper inspection of the apparent outward symptoms, ruling out each of the more common causes until the correct disorder is settled upon and can be treated appropriately.
Standard tests will include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, which are often within normal range unless there is a concurrent disease that is associated with the blood, such as hyperthyroidism, bacterial infection, fungal infection, or cancer.
To evaluate the skin, the following procedures may be required:
Proper diagnosis of this disorder and other concurrent diseases, if present, is important for successful treatment. Frequent and appropriate topical therapy (by which medicines are applied to the surface of skin) is important.
Bathing will remove the scales from the surface of the skin and hair, but this can also dry the skin, making the problem worse. Your veterinarian will prescribe topical medications to be used that will treat the problem, and a moisturizing ointment to replenish the skin's moisture content. There are some excellent topical formulas available to treat this condition, but it is up to you for treatment to be successful. Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide shampoos may be prescribed, as they are both excellent for cell turnover. Which type of shampoo will depend on your dog's exact type of scaling and reaction: whether you need to minimize microbes or bacteria in the skin, and whether the bacterial infections or severe or moderate. Following the directions given by your veterinarian and the drug manufacturer is essential for bringing the skin into balance again.
If there is a concurrent disease/condition that is responsible for this skin disorder, treatment will be prescribed appropriately. Antibiotics may be used in cases with secondary bacterial skin infections, antifungal drugs will be prescribed for cases with fungal infection, antiparasitic drugs can be used to remove the parasites. For deficiency of vitamin A or zinc, your dog will be given supplements to bring this into balance, and for hypothyroidism, thyroxine can be prescribed.
The most important factor in managing a dog with exfoliative dermatosis is the frequent and appropriate topical therapy. Frequent bathing is important in the overall treatment of this disease. You will need to follow the treatment guidelines strictly for successful treatment and to prevent a relapse of symptoms.
This is often a lifelong problem that will need to managed. Follow-ups with a veterinarian are standard for evaluating progress and fine tuning the treatment plan.
Some skin diseases have zoonotic potential, meaning that they can be passed on to other animals, including humans. Taking precautions, such as wearing gloves while treating your dog, minimizing direct skin contact during initial treatment, and cleaning and maintaining a sterile home environment during treatment will minimize the chances of being infected.
The term for plant life or animal life that is microscopic
A product made of fluid, cell waste, and cells
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
The term for a disease of the skin caused by certain mites
A condition of the skin in which too much oil (sebum) is produced
Found inside the skin
A condition of the skin
Pertaining to material that is falling off
Relating to a disease of unknown origin, which may or may not have arisen spontaneously
The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.
A condition of poor health that results from poor feeding or no feeding at all