Unfortunately, skin disease is fairly common in our household pets. Some signs of skin disease include hair loss, itchy skin, redness, discharge, and skin lesions. There are many different potential causes of skin disease in dogs and cats. Among the most common of these are ectoparasites (i.e. fleas, mites, ticks), allergies, and infection.

External Parasites

Ectoparasites are external parasites that live on the skin or in the ears, such as fleas, mites, and ticks. Fleas and ticks can easily be prevented with parasite preventions. Ear mites can cause ear infections that are extremely itchy and produce dark “coffee ground- like” debris. Mite infestations of the skin are also referred to as the “mange.” There are actually 2 types of mange. One is caused by the scabies mite, which causes extreme itchiness and is very contagious to other animals, and even humans (rarely). The other type of mange is caused by the demodex mite, which does not always cause itchiness and is not contagious. Both types of mange can cause hair loss, reddened or darkened skin, and skin lesions.


Dogs and cats can have allergies to both the food they ingest, as well as to things in the environment like pollen and house dust. Food allergies typically manifest very early in age (less than 1 year), while environmental allergies typically don’t manifest until adulthood. Dogs and cats with food allergies are most commonly allergic to a specific protein in the food rather than a grain. A grain allergy is actually very rare in dogs and cats. Thus, a grain-free diet is not usually necessary. In fact, feeding grain-free diets can actually be harmful to our pets as it can deprive them of some essential nutrients they typically get from grains.


Skin infections can either be primary or secondary. Primary skin infections are skin infections that have no known underlying cause that needs to be addressed. Secondary skin infections are infections caused by an underlying problem, such as external parasite infestations or allergies.

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If you’d like your pet’s photo featured in one of our newsletters, email us their photo to Include both your name and your pet’s name in the email with the following authorization statement: “I, ___(your name)___, am the owner of ___(pet’s name)__, and I give my authorization for ACAH to utilize my pet’s name and photo for marketing purposes, including newsletters and social media.”

Ardmore Companion Animal Hospital
25547 Main Street
Ardmore,TN 38449
Phone: (931) 427-8383