The condition of your dog's skin and coat reflects his overall health. In dogs, skin problems often indicate diseases or disorders which initially appear as a dermatological issue. For example, food allergies might first manifest as hair loss and itching, while hypothyroidism resulting from a hormone imbalance often shows up as skin inflammation. Take your dog to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment if he's suffering from skin problems.
A healthy diet affects your dog's skin along with the rest of his body. Ask your vet to recommend a quality diet for your dog's needs. Healthy diets don't contain a lot of cereals and by-products. You can also ask your vet about canine nutritional supplements for skin and coat improvement. Although there are many over-the-counter products marketed for canine skin conditions, consult your vet before giving a supplement to your pet.
Get into the habit of grooming your dog on a regular basis. If your pet has a thick, long coat, brushing him a few times a week is a necessity to avoid matting and general scruffiness, but even short-haired dogs benefit from frequent grooming. Not only does it form a bond between you and your dog, but it means you'll quickly notice any lumps, lesions or other skin issues in their earliest stages. Most dogs don't require frequent bathing, as this can dry their skin. When you do bathe your dog, use products designed especially for canines.
It's important to keep your dog on a monthly topical or oral flea and tick control medication during the seasons these parasites are active. This medication does more than keep your pet pest-free -- if your dog suffers from flea allergies, it also spares him the itching, lesions and possible hot spots and infection resulting from flea bites. Most of these products also control ear or mange mites. Ask your vet to recommend the best product for your dog and your region.
It's not unusual for dogs to develop lumps and bumps, especially as they age. Many of these growths are benign and won't harm your dog, other than marring his appearance. Other tumors can be malignant and might require surgical removal. You can't tell just by looking at a lump whether it merits concern. Take your dog to the vet for an examination and possible biopsy to identify the growth.
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