Skin Disorders in a Lhasa Apso

Keep your Lhasa well-groomed to catch skin disorders early.
i Lhasa Apso image by Vintsik from

While the Lhasa Apso is generally a healthy breed, certain genetic skin disorders do pop up. Because this breed requires regular grooming, you or your groomer probably will recognize any skin disorders right away, with treatment beginning promptly. Skin diseases mimic each other, so your vet must make the diagnosis.

Sebaceous Adenitis

Although this hereditary skin disorder can't be cured, it can be treated. Signs of sebaceous adenitis include dry, flaky skin; excessive dandruff; foul odor; skin darkening; hair loss; and skin thickening. These symptoms range from mild to severe, and this disease is a primary reason that many affected breeds end up in shelters and rescue groups. A skin biopsy must be taken to determine whether the problem is indeed sebaceous adenitis; it is often misdiagnosed. If your dog receives this diagnosis, you might want to consult a veterinary dermatologist for the most up-to-date and effective treatments.

Atopic Dermatitis

If you sneeze and wheeze during certain times of the year because of pollen or ragweed, remember that your Lhasa also might be sensitive to these and other allergy triggers. But instead of nasal reactions, canines often react to inhaled allergens with skin problems. Again, these reactions can include scratching, hair loss, skin gnawing and lesions. Your vet can conduct blood tests to determine exactly what irritates your pooch. It could even be a shampoo or other grooming products used on her. Although avoidance is the best cure, that's unrealistic with some common allergens. Ask your vet if a series of immunotherapy allergy shots or other treatments are a possibility for your pet.


If you don't brush your Lhasa's coat regularly and thoroughly, mats easily form in her long hair. These mats are more than unsightly; they also can irritate the dog. The skin underneath mats is susceptible to parasitic or bacterial infections. Don't remove mats yourself with scissors. Use electric clippers and shave them off, or contact your vet or groomer for removal.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Even if you brush and comb your Lhasa's fur regularly, it only takes one flea biting her skin to cause an allergic reaction, if she's susceptible. And even if you don't see any fleas, don't dismiss the idea that her scratching, hair loss, and open sores could be the result of a flea allergy dermatitis. Fortunately, treatment for flea allergy dermatitis is relatively simple. Ask your vet to recommend a topical flea and tick medication. Some of these products also serve as monthly heartworm preventatives.

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.

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