Springer Spaniel Skin Problems

Published: 22nd February 2011
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There are five main basic reasons for skin problems in dogs, but springer spaniels fare well compared to other breeds. The main reasons are hereditary predisposition, infectious diseases, immune system problems, dermatitis (allergic reactions), and external skin symptoms of internal disease.



Luckily, springer spaniels are not as susceptible as most other breeds to inherited skin problems, or to immune system problems. Some of the skin conditions can be treated and 'cured' immediately, others are systemic and may require long-term solutions and palliative therapies such as ointments.



Like most breeds, they are susceptible to transmitted skin conditions (such as mange), and dermatitis arising from a variety of causes.



Depending on what you read, any form of irritation of the skin could be termed 'dermatitis'. Let's look at the three main problem areas with springer spaniel skin:



Infectious Diseases



By definition, these are picked up from other dogs and their traces, such as stools, vomit or even dead foxes, though for infectious skin diseases, contact with another dog is the most likely reason. Canine scabies is a not uncommon infectious disease. Fungal infections such as ringworm are more common in puppies than adult dogs.



Springers, like most dogs may also become infected with contagious lice.



If you have any suspicion that your springer has an infectious disease, then take him to a vet as soon as possible.



Dermatitis



There are several causes of dermatitis, including bacterial, fungal, yeast, or parasitic infection (mange is caused by a skin mite), seborrhoea, an allergic food reaction, flea bites/saliva, drug intolerance; toxins, nutritional problems, contact with an irritating substance, and sunburn. Food allergies could be harder to pin down, and dietary adjustments could be required. If you suspect an allergy, then it's worth talking to the breeder - your dog's parents may have had similar problems. If you are treating your dog for another condition, then an allergy could be due to a reaction to a drug. Your vet would be aware of this. Problems arising from a nutritional deficiency could be due to bad diet, but this is rare for dogs which are properly fed, unless their bodies are unable properly to process, say a particular mineral or vitamin. This of course could be an aspect of a metabolic disorder.



Internal Disease Presenting Skin Symptoms



These include metabolism disorders (the body's 'engine') and hormonal (endocrine) disorders. Cancer could result in excessive itching due to skin irritation. Secondary Problems Problems with the skin which make your springer scratch and lick can lead on to other problems such as Hot Spots. 'Hot spots' - acute moist dermatitis - come about from over-licking a particular spot on the skin (overlicking means licking more than would be usual form grooming or exploration and interferes with your dog's other activity). This over licking might be in response to, for example, a flea allergy.



If not treated, then the over licking can lead to a staphylococcal infection which may need antibiotics to cure it, and should always be examined by a vet. Indeed, any other skin problem which results in broken skin should be treated carefully to prevent secondary infections.



Prevention



Because springers are love mucking about they should be cleaned and examined regularly. In most cases, prevention is straightforward. Groom your dog regularly, examining the coat and skin, and use a medicated pet shampoo. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent (your vet will advise), you should check his coat for ticks and use a tick powder regularly.



Obviously, if your dog has discovered any sort of dead animal when out with you, then a good cleanup is essential.





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The author has owned springers both Welsh and English, pups and rescue dogs. You can find out a whole lot more about springer spaniel health problems and get "The Springer Spaniel Companion" at www.springerspanieladvice.com - all you need to know about having fun with a springer spaniel!

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