Why do Dogs Develop Scabs?

Hi Dr. B, My Malamute or Husky mix (has one blue eye) has been dealing with some skin issues for the last six months. He...
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Hi Dr. B,

My Malamute or Husky mix (has one blue eye) has been dealing with some skin issues for the last six months. He gets scabs that he pulls with his teeth; the hair comes off in those spots.

We live in Florida and we kept the dog shaved. Last year we decided to not shave him anymore and it seems like his issues started when his coat was fully grown. Nobody seems to know what the problem is; we were given antibiotics and antihistamines. The spots went away under treatment but reappeared soon after finishing treatment. I clean his wounds with peroxide and apply an antibiotic cream on a regular basis, but new spots appear in new places.

If you know what this is and how we can fix it, please let me know; it breaks my heart not to be able to help him.

Thank you in advance,

Inverness, FL

Your dog’s skin problems most likely are being caused by irregular activity of his immune system. In my experience, dogs with a blue eye (or two) suffer from immune-mediated skin problems at increased rates.

Dealing with immune-mediated skin disease can be frustrating. This sort of problem generally can be treated but not cured.

The simplest thing you can do to try to prevent ongoing outbreaks is to be very aggressive with flea control. Florida is big-time flea country, and even rare bites can activate the immune system to cause skin problems. It does not matter whether your dog “has fleas”–the parasites can cause severe skin problems even in the absence of a visible infestation.

Some of the blue-eyed dogs I’ve seen with skin problems respond to decreased sun exposure. Keeping him in the shade during the peak sun hours of 10:00 am – 4:00 pm may help with the problem.

Oral supplementation with vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) may have a slight impact on the problem.

If these tricks don’t help, then I’d recommend further testing for your dog. A skin biopsy can be performed and it almost certainly will lead to a diagnosis. Depending on the results, a highly effective treatment may–or may not–be available.

Photo: Kya shows off her blue eye.

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