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Canine Seborrhea

Canine seborrhea is a common skin disease in dogs. The skin may be dry with lots of dandruff-like flakey dead skin (dry seborrhea, or seborrhea sicca), or it can be oily and greasy (oily seborrhea, or seborrhea oleosa). Read on and learn more about the symptoms, possible causes, and treatment of seborrhea and dry skin in dogs.

Dog on Grass

Seborrhea is a skin condition in which the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), the sebaceous glands, and part of the hair follicles are hyperproductive, resulting in an excessive amount of flakes of dead skin being shed from the epidermis and hair follicles.

Dogs with "dry seborrhea" (seborrhea sicca) have skin flakes that are dry and dandruff-like.

On the other hand, dogs with "oily seborrhea" (seborrhea oleosa) have skin flakes that are oily and greasy. Oily seborrhea is due to an overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. Many dogs have a combination of both types of seborrhea.

Seborrhea in dogs can be primary or secondary, which are two totally different skin diseases.

Primary Seborrhea

Primary seborrhea is an inherited skin disorder and is most commonly seen in American Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, Basset Hounds, Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Chinese Shar-peis, and Labrador Retrievers.

Dogs with primary seborrhea may have dry flaky skin, or oily greasy scaly skin, or a combination of both. They are also smelly with a rancid doggy odor.

Primary canine seborrhea usually begins at a young age (from around 18 to 24 months) and progresses throughout the dog's life.

Areas most commonly affected include the elbow, hocks, neck and chest, and hair along the borders of the ears.

Chronic waxy ear infections also occur rather commonly in dogs with seborrhea (especially oily seborrhea).

Secondary Seborrhea

Secondary seborrhea is caused by another underlying disease and is usually accompanied by pyoderma, yeast infections, and hair loss. Common diseases that can trigger seborrhea in dogs include:

Treatment of Canine Seborrhea

If you dog has been diagnosed with canine seborrhea, it is essential to get a thorough medical check-up to see if it is caused by an underlying disease. Secondary seborrhea usually disappears when the underlying cause is addressed.

Primary seborrhea cannot be cured; it requires life-long control and management. Dry seborrhea can usually be controlled more easily than oily seborrhea.

For mild dry flaking, all-natural, moisturizing hypoallergenic shampoos and rinses can be used to help moisturize the skin. For very dry flaky skin, veterinarians usually recommend shampoos that contain sulfur and salicylic acid which can remove the scales.

Oily seborrhea is usually treated using shampoos that contain coal tar or benzoyl peroxide which can remove greasy scales from the hair and reduce scale production.

Depending on the severity of the skin condition, initial bathing of 2 or 3 times per week may be required. However, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian since overbathing can sometimes worsen seborrhea.

If seborrhea is accompanied by bacterial or other skin infections, antibiotics will also be prescribed.

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