While Scottish terriers, affectionately known as Scotties, suffer from many of the same flea and food allergies that can affect the skin of any canine, some of the hereditary ailments in the breed start out with skin issues. If your Scottie has skin problems, take him to the vet.
Cushing's syndrome, also known as Cushing's disease, results from too much cortisol in your Scottie's system. This hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, regulates various functions in your dog's body. Scotties are quite prone to Cushing's, although the Scottish Terrier Club of America states that it's unknown whether the disease results from genetics or because Scotties treated for itching overreact to the corticosteroids prescribed by vet to stop the scratching. Tumors on the adrenal or pituitary gland also cause Cushing's disease.
Symptoms of Cushing's disease often initially appear in the skin. His coat might fall out, with the skin in the bald patches darkening and thickening. If your Scottie drinks a lot of water and urinates frequently, or he develops a pot belly, Cushing's could be the culprit. Your vet will take blood samples and a urinalysis to make a diagnosis. She can prescribe medication to ease his symptoms. If caused by a tumor, your vet might perform surgery.
Another endocrine problem that affects Scottie skin is hypothyroidism, which occurs when your dog's thyroid glands don't produce enough thyroid hormone. Since the thyroid glands regulate much of your dog's metabolism, symptoms run the gamut. Among the most common are serious skin infections, coat loss and dry, dandruffy skin. Non-skin symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, coat color changes and cold intolerance. Your vet will take blood samples in order to run a thyroid panel. She can prescribe medication to replace your dog's inadequate thyroid levels.
If your Scottie develops hair loss and itching because of a food or flea allergy, ask your vet about alternatives to steroid injections or pills. While these drugs might offer him relief more quickly, long-term use could subject him to Cushing's disease. If you're dog's itching is severe and he's in agony, ask your vet about the possibility of using the lowest dose of steroids for the shortest amount of time.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.