Home » other animals » Dog seborrhea: how to recognize it and treat it? [Wet medicine Katarzyna Hołownia

Dog seborrhea: how to recognize it and treat it? [Wet medicine Katarzyna Hołownia

Dog seborrhea

Beautiful, shiny and smooth dog fur is a dream of many owners.

It is estimated that the average pet owner spends about PLN 470 a year on hair care products (dog shampoos, conditioners, detangling sprays). These are generalized data - everyone knows that there are animals that require more and less intensive skin care.

However, very often, despite the use of various care products, caregivers report the problem of oily hair - after petting or playing, a raid on the hands is noticeable, the dog's skin smells unpleasant, and the hair sticks together into unsightly, greasy villi.

These are the symptoms of seborrhea. I will try to describe this clinical symptom in the article below.

  • What is seborrhea?
  • Clinical signs of seborrhea in dogs
  • Diagnostics of seborrhea in dogs
  • Treatment of seborrhea in dogs
  • Prognosis

What is seborrhea?

First of all, it is worth noting that we distinguish primary and secondary oily (oily) seborrhea. Both types give a similar picture of changes, but the therapeutic procedure is different.

Seborrhea can also take a dry form. Dry seborrhea is commonly known as canine dandruff, you can read about it in the article: // cowsiers.pl / lupiez-u-pies /

Secondary oily seborrhea is a clinical symptom of other diseases, such as:

  • tinea,
  • leishmaniasis,
  • pyoderma,
  • allergic reaction (to food ingredients, atopy).

It may indicate a hormonal disorder and appear, for example, in the course of hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism and diabetes. It appears in the course of many immune-related diseases, such as:

  • pemphigus,
  • lupus,
  • inflammation of the sebaceous glands.

Its presence may suggest the invasion of ectoparasites. Animals suffering from deficiency of nutrients, zinc and vitamin A are also predisposed to developing secondary seborrhea.

As for primary oily seborrhea, it is caused by an inherited, hereditary disorder of the epidermal keratinization process and an overactive skin sebaceous glands. The breeds predisposed to developing the condition are:

  • american cocker spaniels,
  • bassets,
  • west highland white terriers.

Sexual predisposition to this disease has not been observed.

The first changes can be observed in very young animals, but often the disease is revealed when the dog's immunity decreases or when another disease occurs, causing deterioration of the dog's condition.

Places particularly often affected by the seborrhoeic process are the interdigital spaces, the facial area, the perineum, neck, armpits of the animal. Any folds on the pet's body are at risk of seborrhea.

Clinical signs of seborrhea in dogs

Symptoms of seborrhea in a dog

Affected animals have dry, brittle, dull hair, often spiky and not amenable to styling.

Hair may be sticky, stuck together, felt and may be discolored. They are very easy to remove. The entire coat is as if covered with a sticky coating, noticeable after stroking the pet.

In addition, the dog has a specific smell, as if rancid fat.

After parting the hair, large amounts of exfoliated epidermis and dandruff are visible on the skin. Sometimes a brown bloom may appear on it. Hairless spots of excessive exfoliation, keratosis of the skin may appear in some places, with lesions resembling dry, easily protruding scabs. The lesions may be itchy - scratching them increases keratosis, exudation or bacterial superinfections may appear.

Skin affected by seborrhea is very sensitive to infections caused by opportunistic flora. Very often dogs suffering from keratinization disorders, and also have local or systemic skin infections due to activity of the yeast of the genus Malassezia, infections of the ear canal and overproduction of earwax.

Diagnostics of seborrhea in dogs


The picture of changes noticeable in a clinical trial is quite characteristic. However, it should be stated whether seborrhea is a primary disease or caused by other disease entities.

For this purpose, it is worth performing a basic blood test, along with the determination of the level of thyroid hormones.

It is also necessary to ensure proper prophylaxis against external parasites, choosing a broad-spectrum agent - after all, skin parasites are not always noticeable in the scrape taken.

In doubtful cases, it is worth scraping the most changed areas. The material collected in this way will primarily show exfoliated skin cells in a very large amount. Many of them will show symptoms of defective keratosis. The hair visible under the microscope will have protruding cuticles, it may be broken and there will be visible casts of the hair follicles around them.

Treatment of seborrhea in dogs

Treatment of seborrhea in dogs

Treatment of seborrhea should include the exclusion of possible causes (mentioned by me above), as well as local and generalized management.

When it comes to general therapy, it is worth starting with choosing the right food for your dog. Ideally, it should be a hypoallergenic diet, high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins A, E, zinc and selenium. Fatty acids and vitamin A should also be administered daily in the form of dietary supplements for the dog.

Topical therapy should include bathing in anti-seborrheic shampoos. An ideal anti-seborrhoeic shampoo should contain keratolytic and keratoregulating compounds. They are sulfur, selenium, tar and salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide, when used as an additive to shampoos, helps to cleanse the sebaceous glands.

Proper bathing is also important - after the initial cleaning, spread the preparation thoroughly and leave it on the skin for 10-15 minutes for the substances contained in it to work. It is necessary to use appropriate emollients to ensure proper skin hydration, especially after baths - the substances I mentioned may have a drying effect on the skin.

Baths should be carried out even every 2-5 days, depending on the condition of the dog's skin, and as treatment progresses, their intervals can be extended.

It is important to prevent and treat possible complications associated with the weakening of the skin. The pet should be regularly inspected for the presence of bacterial superinfections, especially in the places where the skin is damaged. It is necessary to take care of ear hygiene by cleaning the ears - depending on the condition and intensity of earwax production, every day or every few days (of course, using an ear cleaner that is poured into the ear canal; you must not use cotton buds to clean the ears!).

Particular hygiene should be observed in places predisposed to seborrheic outbreaks.

In very advanced cases, where seborrhea occurs with generalized pruritus and skin hyperalgesia, antipruritic therapy should be considered. A few years ago, in the case of seborrhoea, it was recommended to quickly introduce steroid treatment, nowadays it is used only in exceptional cases. Also in extreme cases, therapy with retinoids and calcitriol is considered.


The prognosis depends on the cause of seborrhea.

In the case of secondary seborrhoea, the prognosis is rather favorable once the primary cause of the disease is under control. Of course, the quality of your pet's coat should be checked regularly to prevent the disease from recurring.

In primary seborrhoea, the prognosis is careful. Dogs with primary seborrhea should not be allowed to breed.

It should be remembered that a dog with a history of keratinization disorders is predisposed to relapse. Therefore, if the skin condition improves after changing the food, it is worth using a specialized food for several months after the symptoms have subsided. A dog's coat should be groomed and combed regularly. You should also use cosmetics appropriate for your pet on a regular basis.

Sources used >>

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