Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. Skin problems can have a variety of causes, sometimes more than one. It is important to have the problem checked by your vet to determine if there is a medical cause for your pet’s skin issues and treat accordingly.

In pets of all ages, fleas, food allergies and exposure to chemical irritants such as cleaners and soaps can be a cause. Any one of these may not be enough to trigger the breakouts, depending on how sensitive your pet is, but a combination can be enough to start the itch-scratch cycle. Finding out the cause and eliminating it is the best course of action. With flea allergies, if your pet is sensitive enough, a single bite can cause them to break out scratch enough to tear their skin.

Check for fleas with a flea comb. Look for fleas and/or tiny black granules, like coarse black pepper. This is flea feces, consisting of digested, dried blood. You may find tiny white particles, like salt, which are the flea eggs. Applying a good topical monthly flea treatment and aggressively treating your house and yard will help break the flea life cycle.

If you use plastic bowls, this is a possible cause for hair loss, though this tends to be on the chin, where their skin touches the bowl while they eat. If you suspect this to be the culprit, try changing the bowls to glass, metal or ceramic.

Food allergies are often caused by sensitivity to a protein in the food. Hill’s Science Diet offers some non-prescription options for sensitive skin as well as prescription hypoallergenic foods for more severe cases. Royal Canin carries limited protein diets that may also offer some relief. Your vet can recommend a specific diet that will help.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Pimples and black heads

Dogs can get “clogged pores” just like people do, and these may form pimples or blackheads. Facial acne in dogs usually responds well to frequent cleaning with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Pimples or blackheads elsewhere can be a symptom of a bacterial skin infection or seborrhea.

There are several reasons why your dog may develop bumps and lumps. It can be a benign growth, skin infection, allergic reaction, or something more serious like cancerous tumors. Consult with your vet to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
Usually, a black scab on a dog is just a healing injury. But it can also result from infections, allergies, endocrine and immune disorder, genetic problems, or even cancer. Let`s look at the most common causes of scabs aside from injury.
Watch for these signs: Firm, raised wart-like blemishes (squamous cell carcinomas) Rubber-like, inflamed sores (mast cell tumors) Strange-colored lumps or bumps on the lips, mouth, pads of feet, toenail beds (melanomas)
Sebaceous cysts: these are smaller bumps that can look like a pimple or a wart. They form from blocked oil glands and may burst and release a pasty white goo. These most commonly occur in breeds with fine hair, like the Poodle and the Bichon Frise.
Symptoms of an epidermoid cyst

An epidermoid cyst is a subcutaneous bump. This means it`s just below the skin. It may be yellow or skin-colored. It often has a small black mark in the middle of it, like a blackhead.

Initially, a dog with sarcoptic mange scratches constantly, making the skin under the fur red and irritated. Over time though, sarcoptic mange leads to hair loss, open sores or scabs, and crusting or thickening of the skin. The open sores may get infected and become smelly.
Signs and Symptoms of Mange in Dogs

Redness, rash, and itching. Hair loss. Sores and lesions. Scabby, crusty or scaly skin.

Melanomas are raised bumps that can be dark-pigmented (but not always) and are frequently found around the dog`s lips, mouth and nail bed. Most melanomas are benign however they can be malignant. Malignant melanomas are a very serious health threat.
Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, in dogs is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, a highly contagious skin parasite. The mites burrow into the skin and cause severe itching, which can result in the formation of scabs and hair loss. It is a nonseasonal parasite that can be found in dogs of all ages and breeds.
Cutaneous lymphoma tends to appear first as dry, flaky, red, and itchy patches of skin anywhere on the body. As the disease progresses, the skin becomes moist, ulcerated, very red, and thickened. Masses in the skin can also occur with cutaneous lymphoma.
One of the best ways to identify a potentially cancerous lump is to evaluate how that tumor feels when touched. Compared to the soft, fatty characteristics of a lipoma, a cancerous lump will be harder and firm to the touch, appearing as a hard immovable lump on your dog.
Pyoderma literally means “pus in the skin.” It can be caused by infection, inflammation, or cancer and is common in dogs. Most cases of pyoderma are caused by bacterial infections. Most of these are superficial and secondary to a variety of other conditions, such as allergies or parasites.
Warts on dogs often look like a small head of cauliflower, but other, rarer types do exist, including an inverted papilloma (usually a firm lump with a dot in the middle) and dark, scaly plaques of skin that have an irregular surface.
Pustule. A small circumscribed elevation of the epidermis containing pus. Click to zoom. Pustules in a dog with superficial pyoderma, complicating dermodicosis (note also comedones) In dogs, the most important cause of pustular lesions is infection with Staphylococcus intermedius (ie pyoderma).
Carbuncles and boils are types of abscess that often involve hair follicles, with carbuncles being larger. Five-day-old inflamed epidermal inclusion cyst. The black spot is a keratin plug which connects with the underlying cyst. They are usually caused by a bacterial infection.
PIH or black spots are a result of dispersion of pigment (melanin) due to inflammation. Pimple or acne is inflammation around the sebaceous (oil) gland. When this inflammation reaches the pigment layer, it disperses the pigment in an irregular manner. This causes black spots or marks.
Dermatophilosis is a bacterial skin infection affecting multiple species of animals world-wide. It is most common in young or immunosuppressed animals or in animals chronically exposed to wet conditions. Signs include matted hair, crusts, and wart-like lesions that can have a wide distribution.
Canine hyperkeratosis is a skin condition in which excess keratin is produced, in particular in the nose and/or paw pads; causing skin thickening and hardening, sometimes to the point of cracking, thus leading to the emergence of secondary infections.
Hair loss (either in patches, or all over their coat). Dandruff. Excessive scratching. Visible irritation, such as red skin.
What do mites look like on a dog`s skin? Mites look like small spider-like creatures, with are estimated to only be 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long. To the naked eye, they may look like tiny black dots on the skin, so you can only really see them under a microscope.
Rash: Many people get the scabies rash. This rash causes little bumps that often form a line. The bumps can look like hives, tiny bites, knots under the skin, or pimples. Some people develop scaly patches that look like eczema.
Symptoms of mange in dogs

Sarcoptic mange: Intense itching, hair loss and skin infections. Demodectic mange: Hair loss, skin thickening and skin infections. Otodectic mange: Scratching around head and ears, head shaking, dark discharge and unpleasant odour from the ears.

Demodectic mange is not contagious. It is a normal parasite that can grow uncontrolled due to a lacking immune system, therefore contact between a healthy dog and one with demodectic mange will not lead to transmission of the infection. Sarcoptic mange, however, is very contagious to other dogs as well as to humans.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. Rescued a dog almost two weeks ago, and now that her kennel cough is gone her personality shines!! No previous training, how should I start?
ANSWER : A. POST FOUR:

After your dog is familiar with the behavior you lured from scratch, and taught to your dog, you can start to use the “no-reward marker” I talked about. What you do is ask the dog to perform the behavior, and if the dog does not perform the behavior, you simply say your no-reward marker (choose one: eh-eh, hey, uh-oh, oops) show them the treat, put it behind your back, and BRIEFLY ignore your dog. Just turn your back for a second or two, before turning back to your dog and saying, “let’s try that again.” When you’re ready to start over with your dog, make sure you move around. If you are repeating the same cue while in the same position, while your dog is in the same position, you are likely to receive the same results. The more you move around, and start fresh, the better your chances are of having your dog listen to your cue the second time around. BIG rewards when they dog it successfully! Lots of praise and treats.

My no-reward marker is “hey.” When my dog does something wrong I say, “hey” and she immediately understands that she needs to offer a different behavior. This is clear to her. I don’t have to say it in a mean way, I simply say, “hey” in a normal tone of voice and she understands what the word means.

Once you’ve built up that connection and communication with your new dog, you can work on all kinds of fun behaviors! I personally enjoy the more zen-like behaviors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruy9UMcuGh8

I like to teach my dog fun tricks that offer her a “job” to do of sorts like object retrieval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iertZSva8

(object retrieval training completed; what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0Dml28FGY)

Scent-games are fun too! Very confidence building. Hide a REALLY smelly treat in a box, and place that box in a line of boxes. Let your dog go in the room while saying something like “search!” or “find it!” and watch them hunt for that smelly treat! Lots of rewards when they find it!

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.

Q. Dog has pimple like sores with black lumps inside that won’t heal and hair loss on back he is a pitbull
ANSWER : A. Skin problems can have a variety of causes, sometimes more than one. It is important to have the problem checked by your vet to determine if there is a medical cause for your pet’s skin issues and treat accordingly.

In pets of all ages, fleas, food allergies and exposure to chemical irritants such as cleaners and soaps can be a cause. Any one of these may not be enough to trigger the breakouts, depending on how sensitive your pet is, but a combination can be enough to start the itch-scratch cycle. Finding out the cause and eliminating it is the best course of action. With flea allergies, if your pet is sensitive enough, a single bite can cause them to break out scratch enough to tear their skin.

Check for fleas with a flea comb. Look for fleas and/or tiny black granules, like coarse black pepper. This is flea feces, consisting of digested, dried blood. You may find tiny white particles, like salt, which are the flea eggs. Applying a good topical monthly flea treatment and aggressively treating your house and yard will help break the flea life cycle.

If you use plastic bowls, this is a possible cause for hair loss, though this tends to be on the chin, where their skin touches the bowl while they eat. If you suspect this to be the culprit, try changing the bowls to glass, metal or ceramic.

Food allergies are often caused by sensitivity to a protein in the food. Hill’s Science Diet offers some non-prescription options for sensitive skin as well as prescription hypoallergenic foods for more severe cases. Royal Canin carries limited protein diets that may also offer some relief. Your vet can recommend a specific diet that will help.

Q. Husband shamed dog for having an accident inside, and now she won’t poop when he takes her out. Can we fix this? He realizes he erred
ANSWER : A. Good on your husband for realizing that scolding is not the way to potty train! Hopefully these tips can help both him and your pup get back on the right track and make pottying outside successful.

If your dog is still a puppy, that is good news as you may be able to more easily time your potty outings with your dog’s schedule. Even if your dog is older, this schedule may help. Dogs generally have to go potty about 15 minutes after eating, drinking, waking up or playing. Knowing this, get your husband to start taking out your puppy at these key times, so puppy gets used to going out with him, and the urge to potty may be higher than any fear to go. If the potty is successful, have your husband reward the dog with a favorite treat! For bowel movements, dogs may take a little more time, and you may have to stand outside for a while (sometimes even 10 minutes) to give your dog a chance to go. If she doesn’t go, take her back inside and play some, then try again in about 15 minutes. Again, a success equals a treat which most dogs will like right away!

For any indoor potty accidents that occurred, an enzymatic cleaner is great for cleaning up urine and stool. Not only does it remove the stain and smell, but it breaks down the enzymes in the urine and stool your dog can smell, which may deter her from going potty there again.

Q. My Bulldog puppy growls, barks and even tries to bite me when I say “no” to him. What can I do?
ANSWER : A. First, avoid scolding him and acting aggressively towards him if you don’t want him to be acting aggressively towards you. There are other methods you can use to communicate to your dog that you don’t want him to continue doing what he is doing. I recommend you stop telling him “no”, scolding him, or raising your voice at him. Everything coming from you should be 100% positive and 100% calm.

Try to figure out ways to clearly communicate what you want to your dog. If you want your dog to leave something or someone alone, I strongly suggest teaching your dog commands like “leave it”. Here is a link to a video in which I explain how to do it:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1TS5nA7z5Q

Another thing I suggest you use is a no-reward marker. This clearly communicates when your dog has done something wrong. No-reward markers have to be introduced during your training sessions. You should be doing at least three training sessions per day, that are something like 3-10 minutes long (working on different things each training session). If you are teaching your dog something BRAND NEW, do not use the no-reward marker, as you do not want to discourage your dog from performing behaviors for you. Use the no-reward marker for known behaviors only. Here is another helpful video about this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdU5a6fXKlg

Lure each new behavior (as shown in the video) using high value treats. Let’s say you’re working on “down” which is a behavior your dog knows fairly well. Present the treat to your dog. Ask your dog to “down” (only ask once). If he does not go “down” immediately, say, “uh-oh” or “eh-eh” in a gentle tone, and then place the treat behind your back. This communicates to your dog that they did something to make the treat go away.

After you place the treat behind your back to show your pup “that was wrong” you need to communicate to your pup “let’s try again” by getting your pup to walk around for a second, and then start the behavior all over again. If your puppy is very young, chances are you haven’t taught him a solid “down” behavior yet. So, as I said, do not use this method until you have lured each new behavior as shown in the video.

This is the order in which you should teach behaviors: Lure using a high value treat as shown in the video. After a few successful food lures, lure with an empty hand. If the pup is successful with the empty hand lure, reward with lots of treats. If the pup is unsuccessful, then go back to food-luring a couple more times. After a few successful empty-hand lures, you can begin to add the cue. Say “sit”, then lure with an empty hand, and then reward. Once your pup understands the cue, begin to work on the no-reward marker.

Q. Dachshund has symetrical hair loss since aged 6 mth now 1 treated for mange had testicle removed from abdo still no better what’s next best step ?
ANSWER : A. Has hormonal disease like hypothyroidism been ruled out? That is a hormonal disease that is common causes of symmetrical hair loss, and it can be genetic, so you would see it in a dog that’s very young like yours. I agree that treating for mange was also a good idea, since that can cause hair loss as well and sometimes we can’ actually find the mites on a skin scraping.

Was a biopsy performed on the testicle? Because intra-abdominal testicles frequently turn into Sertoli cell tumors, which also cause symmetrical hair loss. If a biopsy was performed you should know for sure whether that was the cause of the hair loss or not. If the testicle wasn’t cancerous and removing it did not resolve the hair loss then the next step is a skin biopsy, unfortunately. Sounds frustrating – good luck.

Q. My 4 yr old male Catahoula Leopard Dog mix is a rescue. He’s become very possessive of me around larger dogs. How can I correct this behavior?
ANSWER : A. Sudden behavior changes can sometimes indicate an underlying health issue, so scheduling a checkup with your regular vet is always the first step. Once any health issues have been addressed, then you can address the behavioral ones. It is very common for dogs to become “possessive” of people or objects when around other dogs or people, and is called location guarding. Possession of objects or places can be a little easier to manage, however possession around other dogs can be treated as well. Working from a distance in a technique called BAT or Behavioral Adjustment Training may help. This technique involves your dog and another calm dog. Start off at a far distance and then move in until your dog becomes reactive or wary of the other dog. Move back a small amount and wait for your dog to become calm. If he shows calm behavior, reward with lots of praise, treats and love! If he becomes agitated or possessive, move back until he is calm, or stop the session completely and try again later. While this may take some time, it can help dogs learn that other dogs are not a threat to them or their people. Reading more information about BAT training or contacting a local trainer in your area can help with further advice and techniques!