Canine Eczema: Signs, Causes, Treatments and Prevention

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Canine eczema refers to the inflammation of the skin’s outer layer called the epidermis. The epidermis is composed of five layers, it does not have its own blood supply.

Eczema is not really a disease or an illness. Rather, it’s a symptom of other maladies. The epidermis becomes irritated for different reasons. It could be triggered by humidity, dust or toxic plants. It could be caused by mechanical irritants or parasites. In some cases, canine eczema is caused by poor diet, insect bites or viral/fungal/bacterial infections. As with most skin disorders, canine eczema gets progressively worse in dry or humid weather. If not treated, canine eczema will lead to open wounds and sores.

Causes of Canine Eczema

Canine eczema is caused by irritants, but it gets worse because of self-trauma. In pets, the affected area becomes so itchy, they will lick, bite or chew their own skin. This is a common response to external parasites like mites or fleas. Skin allergies could also trigger this condition. It leads to lesion associated with canine eczema. Systematic illnesses could also cause canine eczema. You will need to check with your vet to identify the cause of the irritation. From there, you are given options to treat canine eczema.

Symptoms of Canine Eczema

The most common signs and symptoms of canine eczema include skin irritation or redness on the affected area. Pets would bite, lick, chew or scratch the same spot. Pustules or papules would start popping all over the pet’s body. Blisters or vesicles would also form. In severe cases of canine eczema, weeping skin sores will develop. The fur of your pet becomes moist and matted. The boils will ooze fluids. The skin within the affected area thickens, darkens and become flaky.

Treating Canine Eczema


Your vet could prescribe antihistamines to alleviate the itchiness caused by canine eczema. Corticosteroid creams also work great to soothe irritation and relieve itchiness. Ideally, don’t start off with a strong dose of either drug. You want to increase the dosage gradually and use it for a limited time only. You can also do spot treatment with hydrocortisone with Pramoxine to relieve pain and itchiness.

Diet and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Boosting your pet’s diet with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids also helps treat canine eczema. Fish oils hydrate the skin, prevents itchiness and kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It also controls seborrhea. We recommend fish oil supplements to boost your pet’s omega 3-fatty acids consumption.  Apart from giving fish oil supplements, consider switching to high-quality dog food. In some cases, canine eczema is caused by food allergy.

Immunotherapy with Hypo-Sensitization

For dogs who do not respond to home remedies or medical treatments, consider immunotherapy with hyposensitization. Dogs will be given a series of injections over the course of 9 months to a year. Sometimes, even longer than a year. If the dog is hypersensitive to irritants, he will be given boosters to fight allergies.

Preventing Canine Eczema

Preventing canine eczema will depend on the underlying cause. If the condition is caused by fleas, invest in good anti-flea shampoos and powders. Clean all beddings to prevent re-infestation. If it’s caused by food allergy, switch to better dog food brands. If the condition is caused by irritants, consider immunotherapy with hyposensitization.