Your golden retriever is sensitive to dermatology disorders. Her dense undercoat and long outer coat create the perfect habitat for allergic rashes, dermatitis and infection. When she shows signs of skin problems, a vet’s help may be needed for diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of Skin Problems
Your golden retriever shows skin discomfort by biting at her legs or flanks, licking her paws, scratching the ears or rubbing her face. Run your fingers through her coat and feel for skin bumps, hot spots, seeping sores and bare skin patches. In her pain and discomfort, she may rip out hair or bite through her skin. Look in her ears for red, inflamed skin and check her fur for sticky, saliva-stiffened localized licked areas. Check the base of her tail for fleas or other parasites triggering skin reactions.
Causes of Skin Problems
Allergies to mold, dirt, chemicals, pollen, food and environmental irritants cause rashes or dermatitis. When your golden is allergic to fleas, it can take only one flea bite to spur an allergic skin reaction. Mites, ticks and other parasites make skin wounds that injure and irritate her skin. Fungus and bacteria present on the skin cause problems when a scratch or weak immune system allows them to enter the skin and infect the dog. The damp, warm conditions in a golden's dense undercoat prompt bacteria to quickly flare into hot spots. Sometimes ichthyosis, a genetic inherited disease, causes dry skin that sheds as fish-like flakes.
Treatment for Skin Problems
At the first sign of damaged skin or foul-smelling ears, take your golden to her vet. Skin conditions may appear mild, but can indicate serious whole-body illness. Once your vet identifies the problem, treatment may range from flea control or medicated baths to prescription medication. Skin conditions such as serious staph outbreaks are treated with medicated shampoos to fight the bacteria on the skin and antibiotics to fight it inside the body. Even when the cause is not identified, most skin conditions can be treated to make the dog comfortable and reduce complications. Ichthyosis, though an unsightly skin problem, rarely requires medical treatment in a golden retriever.
Reducing Skin Problems
Groom your dog regularly. Tip your groomer for a short lesson on keeping the top coat and undercoat mat-free and clean. When your golden is scratching, but not in distress, a whole body bath with an oatmeal or hypoallergenic shampoo removes allergens, chemicals, and topical irritants Work the shampoo well into the undercoat and rinse thoroughly. Dry her well. A change of diet or supplements such as fatty acids may ease allergy-related skin problems. Use pet-friendly carpet cleaners and household cleansers; chemicals often trigger skin problems. The same techniques you use to protect her from irritants, such as HEPA air filters, indoor vacuuming and clean bedding, protect you as well.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.