Generally, your pom needs the sort of skin care required for most canines. A healthy diet, regular grooming, and proper flea and tick control should keep his skin in good shape. However, Pomeranians are subject to black skin disease, and that is another story entirely for skin care.
Basic Skin Care
In addition to grooming and a nutritious diet, part of skin care means providing good flea and tick prevention, since a flea allergy can quickly lead to hair loss and infection. Ask your vet about the best monthly topical flea, tick or general parasite preventive for your pom. When grooming or petting your dog, check his body for lumps, sores or any other irregularities. If he starts scratching or licking himself, find out what's irritating him.
You purchased a pom because you wanted a furry little dog. Don't panic if your puppy starts losing his fur, revealing hairless spots, between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Pomeranian fanciers refer to this stage as the "puppy uglies." He should grow his full coat back by the time he's 1 year old. During this in-between stage, use gentle shampoos and conditioners on him and brush him gently.
Senior Skin Care
As your pom ages, his skin becomes dryer. Ask your vet about supplements that aid skin and coat health. In addition to taking your dog to the groomer, you might want to look into regular massages for skin and general health. Your older dog should probably have semiannual veterinary checkups.
Black Skin Disease
Formally known as alopecia X, black skin disease also goes by such charming but descriptive names as coat funk or elephant skin. Although it affects other breeds as well, it's particularly prominent in the Pomeranian. The cause of black skin disease is uncertain. In poms it probably has genetic roots, but it's also been linked to thyroid problems, obesity, allergies or hormonal problems. It's called black skin disease because the skin might become dark in the areas of hair loss. In Pomeranians, this condition occurs more often in males than in females.
Your pom puppy might have a typical long, luxurious coat, but if he has black skin disease that's not going to last. His puppy coat will never shed out into an adult coat. Instead, when the puppy coat sheds it won't be replaced in certain areas of his body, leaving him hairless there. Dogs with black skin disease often lose hair in the genital/anal region and the abdomen. A severely affected dog might be hairless over the entire body except for the feet and head.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will perform a variety of tests on your Pomeranian to see whether black skin disease is indeed the culprit. This might include blood work and thyroid testing, along with a skin scraping to detect the presence of fungus or bacteria that could cause skin issues. She might also conduct allergy tests on your pom. Let your vet know if your dog shows other symptoms, such as severe scratching or appetite loss.
Sometimes, black skin disease goes away on its own. If your dog reacts positively to certain allergens or has thyroid problems, your vet might prescribe medication to treat those. However, if no actual cause of black skin disease is determined, you'll have to protect your little hairless guy. That could mean putting sweaters on him in cold weather, or not taking him outdoors in the heat of the day so he doesn't get a sunburn. Your vet can advise you about sunscreen lotions suitable for dogs, as well as medicated ointments that might ease roughness in elephantlike skin.
- VetInfo: Black Skin Disease in Dogs
- VetStreet: What You Need to Know About Pomeranian Health
- Pomeranian Club of Canada: Black Skin Disease
- University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine: What is Alopecia X?
- American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Alopecia
- Pet Pom: A Pomeranian's Fur
- PetPom: Senior Pomeranian Care
- ASPCA: Skin Problems
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images