two puppies

Dog Skin Care

Your pet’s skin is the largest organ of their body and serves many important functions. It aids in regulating body temperature, provides the sense of touch and a protective barrier to the environment. It is a complex organ consisting of 3 major layers. The thin, tough outer layer called the epidermis, under that is the dermis – a thicker fibrous/elastic layer which contains nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, hair follicles and the blood supply to the skin, this is a busy spot! Finally, the area underneath the dermis, the subcutaneous space, acts as insulation, shock absorption and protection. This is also the perfect spot to deliver many medications such as insulin or fluids/electrolytes. There are conditions that can affect the skin. Sometimes multiple tests and treatments are needed to get to the bottom of your pet’s skin issues.

What are causes of bacterial skin infections?

Bacterial skin infections are often caused by normal flora (bacteria usually found on the skin in low numbers) which for some reason multiply more than they should. Causes of bacterial infections can be a puppy’s immature immune system (puppy pyoderma), excessive moisture on the skin (e.g. dogs who swim frequently), and inflammation of the skin (usually from an underlying allergy).

What are the causes, symptoms and treatment for ringworms?

Ringworm is an imposter and not a worm at all! Ringworm is a fungal infection. Ringworm only constitutes a small percentage of skin infections seen at our clinic and is most common in warm, humid weather. Diagnosis of Ringworm is done via examination of the lesions (areas of hair loss) by UV light (Wood’s lamp) and by taking a fungal culture that is sent off to a lab for analysis. Treatment is through anti-fungal medication for your pet as prescribed by your veterinarian. Ringworm is a zoonotic disease (one that can be spread from animal to humans) and is highly contagious. Strict hygiene measures are needed when handling a pet with ringworm to prevent cross-contamination. Lesions in people often appear the same as in animals. If you suspect you have contracted Ringworm from your pet, please speak with your doctor about treatment.

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Just like people, pets can be allergic to many things. The cause of allergies in pets are broken into two categories, food allergies and atopy – i.e. airborne allergens that your pet inhales/ come in contact with. Any pet can fall victim to allergies with the age of onset typically being between 6 months and three years. Allergies affect male and females equally. Treatment falls into three categories – avoiding the offending allergen, controlling the itching, and providing immunotherapy (e.g. injections to build up a tolerance to the allergen). The best course of action is often a combination of treatments with regular medical progress consultations to assess how your pet is doing. It is important to understand that identifying the cause of your pet’s itching can be a lengthy process and following your Veterinarian’s instructions to the T is necessary to keep treatment and diagnosis on track. For some pets, it takes many months for treatment to have positive effects, but the investment of your time is well worth it for you and your pet.

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

The most common external parasite found in our neck of the woods is the flea. The flea is one of the leading causes of pruritis (severe itching) in pets. Other skin parasites include lice, mites, and the ever-increasing population of ticks. Aside from uncomfortable itching, these parasites bring with them some other potential health concerns for your pet such as tapeworm, anemia, tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease, and secondary bacterial infections as a result of intense, repetitive scratching. With the many safe and effective parasite control products available from your veterinary clinic these pests are easy to avoid. Taking a preventive approach to parasites will save you and your pet a lot of unwanted and unnecessary discomfort and expense.

What are the causes and treatment of hormonal skin diseases?

Hormone imbalances can affect your pet’s health in many ways. Hormonal skin disease happens when there is an overabundance (hyper) or not enough of a hormone (hypo). Symptoms typically involve hair loss and thinning or thickening of the skin. Pets suffering from hormonal skin disease are usually not itchy. Certain hormonal skin diseases can be diagnosed through blood tests and successfully managed with medications or other treatments. Skin issues related to sex hormones can often be addressed through neutering. Some hormonal skin diseases are difficult to diagnose, and it is important to note that whenever there is a hormonal issue, other areas of the body besides the skin are affected and can lead to issues beyond skin and coat condition.


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Last updated: April 18, 2022

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we can continue providing our full range of services, under certain restrictions. Masks are mandatory for everyone coming inside our hospital. Maximum of 2 clients allowed into our exams rooms per appointment (there's not much room in there!)

Please note that it will take at least 24 hours for all prescription and food items to be ready for pick up (unless you have used our online store and are having your order delivered directly to your home). To place an order through our online store, visit our website and click on "Online Store".

Unfortunately, our bathroom is still closed to the public as it is in our radiology room.


If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.


We are OPEN with the following hours:

Monday & Tuesday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wednesday & Thursday: 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed


Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

We are committed to providing a safe and respectful workplace. Abusive conduct or communications will not be tolerated and may result in denial of services.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Harbour Cities Veterinary Hospital