Dermatitis

Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Inflammation may be secondary to, or associated with, other skin abnormalities or damage such as allergies, irritants, skin trauma, bacterial or fungal infections, external parasites, general poor health or nutrition, hormonal imbalances and immune system abnormalities. If bacteria are involved, they are usually normal skin organisms that have opportunistically invaded a weakened area of the most external layer of skin.

Dermatitis ranges from superficial with mild discomfort, to deep, severe, and in some cases potentially life threatening. Mild cases can rapidly become severe and cover large areas of body surface.

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Discharge
  • Odor
  • Swelling
  • Abrasions on the skin surface
  • Hair loss
  • Scabbing
  • Sores
  • Pustules
  • Excess chewing or licking


Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms, examination findings, skin or blood testing, biopsies and response to treatment. These tests are valuable and important tools to diagnose underlying conditions that may have allowed inflammation in the first place.

Treatment can include antibiotics, medicated shampoos and skin products, antihistamines and steroids are often used to effectively treat dermatitis. Any underlying health problem must be addressed as well. External parasite control, especially flea control, is essential for good skin health. Routine bathing and coat care are important.

Important Points

  • Use all medications and skin products as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Control fleas and ticks
  • If a special diet has been prescribed, please do not feed any other foods, treats, or table scraps.
  • Your pet should receive routine bathing and grooming. The medical team can offer guidelines tailored to your pet for frequency and product suggestions.
  • Take your pet in for rechecks as directed by your veterinarian.

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.