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Labrador Retriever Skin Issues and How to Treat Them

Unfortunately, many Labs suffer from skin problems – keep reading to learn more about what these problems are and how to resolve them.

Common Skin Problems in Labrador Retrievers

Skin problems can be caused by a wide variety of different factors, some of which are not related to your dog’s skin at all. For example, hypothyroidism is a condition affecting the thyroid gland in your dog’s neck which can cause inflammation and hair loss due to low levels of thyroid hormone.

One of the most common skin problems in Labrador Retrievers is atopic dermatitis – this is a contact allergy that can be caused by exposure to environmental allergens like pollen, dust, and mold. This allergy usually causes flakiness and dryness of the skin as well as runny eyes, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Pyoderma is a type of bacterial skin infection which can cause the formation of crusty lesions on your dog’s lower back, hips, and tail area. This infection is usually secondary to something else like an allergic reaction to flea bites or atopic dermatitis.

The best treatment for your Lab’s skin problems will depend on the underlying cause. Bacterial skin infections are best treated with oral or topical antibiotics while fungal infections may require antifungal drugs or special shampoos. Parasite infections should be treated with medicated shampoos and/or anti-parasitic drugs, as long as the parasite has been identified.

Pyoderma is best treated with medicated rinses or shampoos and atopic dermatitis generally responds well to antihistamines, steroids, and dietary supplements. If your dog’s skin problems are the result of food allergies you may need to make changes to his diet – you will find detailed instructions in the next section.

Altering Your Lab’s Diet to Resolve Skin Issues

While there are many potential causes for your Labrador Retriever’s skin issues, his diet is one of the biggest factors. Labs are prone to food allergies which can manifest with skin-related problems such as inflammation, itching, hot spots, dandruff, and more. Dogs can be allergic to many foods, though the most common food allergens for dogs include: beef, wheat, dairy, corn, and soy products. The best way to deal with food allergies in Labs is to switch your dog over to a Limited Ingredient Diet.

This is a dog food made with a limited number of ingredients and, in most cases, a novel source of protein and carbohydrate – this is simply a type of protein and carbohydrate your dog hasn’t eaten before so he is unlikely to be allergic to it. Feed your dog this diet for 12 weeks until all signs of the allergy have disappeared and then reintroduce potential allergens one at a time until you find the culprit. Then, just feed your Lab a diet free from that ingredient for the rest of his life.

Skin problems are fairly common in Labrador Retrievers and they can be tricky to diagnose because there are many conditions that contribute to skin problems. To prevent the problem from worsening, take your Lab to the vet for a check-up at the first sign of trouble.

Photo credit: Gelpi/Bigstock