Scaly Skin in Dogs

A group of skin disorders that are due to other one or more underlying disorders, sharing same symptom of scaling skin, is called exfoliative dermatoses. As such, exfoliative dermatoses is not primary diagnosis but it is the main descriptor of other underlying disease(s).  It is typically due to excessive or abnormal shedding, excessive accumulation of skin cells, or a loss of the cells' ability to adhere to each other.

Although the condition can occur to any dog of any breed at any age, some dog breeds are more prone to this condition. These breeds include Cocker spaniels, West Highland white terriers, English springer spaniels, basset hounds, Irish setters, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, chow chows, poodles, Yorkshire terriers, whippets, Great Danes, salukis, Italian greyhounds, standard poodles, Akitas, Samoyeds, and golden retrievers.

Common symptoms related to this condition are

Scales may be seen as fine particles, such as dandruff, or in sheets (coarse scale)

Greasy or dry accumulation of surface skin cells, as seen in dandruff

Excessive scaling due to shedding of skin cells


Accumulations may be found throughout the hair coat or in certain localized areas

Filling of hair follicles with oil and skin cells

Accumulation of debris around the hair shaft

Excess scales and crust on the nasal planum and footpad margins – may lead to cracking of skin and bacterial invasion

Hair loss (alopecia)

Skin infections characterized by presence of pus

Rancid fat odor

Nails may also be affected

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