You may have been a little hasty if you thought you'd never have to consider taking your border collie to the dermatologist. Even though skin disorders aren't the number one health concern for the busy border collie breed, a few dermatological concerns exist that should raise a red flag.
Although sebaceous adenitis isn't a common skin disorder, border collies are first on the "Ultimate Dog Grooming" list of breeds that can be affected by it. Vet Info explains that when the sebaceous glands that produce oil for your border collie's skin become inflamed they eventually stop working altogether. The resulting symptoms include hair loss, dry and scaly skin, and infection of the skin. A complete cure isn't always possible, as early detection is necessary, and many times a mild case of adenitis that hasn't yet progressed might go unnoticed. Your veterinarian should do a skin biopsy if you suspect your border collie has developed sebaceous adenitis to determine conclusively that she has the disorder. The vet then can prescribe medicated shampoo, skin ointment and antibiotics, if necessary.
Fungal Infections and Hot Spots
If your border collie has medium or long fur, these longer coat types have a dense undercoat that can be the cause of skin problems if not properly cared for. In his book on border collies, Michael DeVine explains that your pup's thick textured undercoat can hold moisture in next to the skin. This can be unfortunate if she has the luxury of swimming often, and if the climate is hot and damp, as the combination will create the perfect breeding ground for a yeast infection of the skin or may cause hot spots. If your Lassie's normally thick, lustrous coat begins thinning in spots or appears greasy, and if her skin is itchy, red and has an odd, yeasty odor, DeVine advises getting her to the vet for treatment immediately.
Parasites, like fleas and mites, can cause skin problems for all dogs, including border collies. Fleas live in your dog's fur, biting her and causing itchy, red skin and possible hair loss. Mites irritate your border collie by burrowing under the skin, triggering hair loss and scaling of the skin, most often around the eyes, mouth and legs. Mites can even infest your dog's ears, making them itchy, painful and red. Over-the-counter remedies, like powders and special shampoos, are available for fleas, but if your border collie gets mange or suffers ear problems from mites, a trip to the vet for treatment is your best bet.
Keeping your pooch groomed will minimize the chances that she will acquire a skin disorder. Additionally, if you groom her on a regular basis, you'll be more likely to notice an unhealthy condition if one arises. Regular bathing for your border collie can be as infrequently as once a month or just as-needed if her skin and coat are healthy. Brushing her once or twice a week, whether her hair is long or short, should be sufficient to remove loose hair and dirt, and give you a chance to inspect her skin to note any abnormalities. If your border collie likes to swim, limiting her opportunities to take a dip will reduce her chances of suffering a skin problem and, when she does get thoroughly wet, dry her as completely as possible to further minimize the possibility of a skin disorder.
Other Border Collie Health Concerns
While it's possible for your border collie to have a run-in with a skin disorder, those conditions don't top the list of health concerns that are associated with her breed. Vet Street lists hip dysplasia and the resulting arthritis first under genetic diseases that affect border collies. As a border collie parent, you should keep an eye out for symptoms in your dog, like difficulty standing from a lying position and hesitation to run or jump. Speaking of eyes, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is another condition to which border collies are prone. CEA actually consists of a number of different eye ailments that can be mild or serious. If you want to be sure whether or not CEA should be a concern for your border collie, you can have her tested to find out if she carries the disorder or not. Two other genetic health concerns for border collies that can be detected with tests are neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and trapped neutrophil syndrome. Both are quite serious and are fatal, but because breeders can screen for these diseases, they should not concern anyone who obtained their border collie from a reputable breeder.
- Ultimate Dog Grooming; Eileen Geeson, Barbara Vetter and Lia Whitmore
- Border Collies; Michael DeVine
- Vet Info: Adenitis in Dogs
- The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books
- Vet Info: Dog Fungal Infection Symptoms
- Vet Street: Border Collie Grooming
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.