Okay, there's a few situations that I think may be the case: a fungal infection, a parasite infestation, a food allergy, or he may just be in need of a good bath, quality food and dietary supplements.
There's a broad array of fungal infections that can affect our pets. Yeast infections result in a scaly, dry appearance, sometimes they ooze, and they're often very itchy. To diagnose this or a parasite infestation, your vet will scrape the very outer layer of skin away, and it will then be examined under the microscope for signs of fungi or parasites.
Parasites can also cause this. And they're not necessarily visible to the naked eye, so he could still be affected by mites that are causing this. Mites are tiny tiny tiny and they live in the hair follicle and they can cause itching and dryness. And internal parasites, such as those that find their way into the intestines, can also cause skin conditions like you've described. The best way to diagnose these is to have your pet perform a skin scraping where they look at skin cells under the microscope they will examine a fecal sample, which is a pretty quick and inexpensive process.
I also wonder if an allergy could be to blame, particularly a food allergy. Symptoms of a food allergy include itching, dry, flaky skin, rashes, and hair loss. This is something that will likely be investigated if all of the things I've mentioned above turn out to not be the case. You want to investigate the easier-to-solve, more common problems first.
If he's not experiencing an infection or parasite infestation, it may be worth trying your boy on an exclusion diet for couple of weeks. You can try him on a bland "people food" diet - it will be easy on his stomach. I would recommend boiled hamburger or plain chicken with plain white rice or cottage cheese. This way, you'll only be feeding him two ingredients, and if he's reacting to one of the dozens of ingredients in his food, you should see an improvement when the allergen food item is removed from the equation.
If that does seem to work well, there are special foods with different ingredients from most others. A duck and potato formula is often good for dogs who have allergies to foods, so that's something to consider. They're available online and at some of the larger pet supply stores and there's always the possibility of serving your own raw food diet. If you're interested in learning more about this, just let me know and I"d be happy to go over the basics.
If you do try an exclusion diet for a couple of weeks, I would recommend giving a multi-vitamin, to ensure that he's getting all of the vitamins and minerals he needs. This link will take you to a website that has two of my favorite supplements - they're the two at the top of the list: http://www.naturalpetmarket.com/category_detail.cfm?categoryid=188&varpageid=999&uplevel=Health&level=Multivitamins
Another measure that may be helpful, if you've not tried it already, is a skin and coat supplement that can be added to his food. Linatone is the best supplement out there for this type of problem. It's a syrup that's added to the food or given directly. It can be found in pet stores under several names, typically with "tone" in the name (i.e. the ferret version is called "ferretone"). This can really be helpful for dryness and itching, so it's definitely worth a shot. It can also reduce shedding!
Now to the bath....
Much of this could simply be due to not getting a bath recently. So, we'll want to wash him VERY thoroughly. I would recommend a moisturizing oatmeal shampoo formula - there's a whole bunch out there. I would also recommend an oatmeal moisturizing formula conditioner as well. This will help moisturize his skin, as the shampoos can be drying. After his bath, you'll want to brush, brush, brush him to help get out all of the loose fur that will otherwise end up on your floor! This also helps stimulate the skin and promotes healthy skin. I recommend twice daily brushings - each session about five to ten minutes - in a dog like this.
Another trick to help moisturize the skin involves feeding olive oil. You can soak a piece of bread with olive oil and give this to him with each meal. This helps moisturize the skin from the inside.
Here's a couple of good websites that describe the different fungal infections and other similar conditions: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_yeast_infection_of_the_skin.html http://www.sniksnak.com/doghealth/ringworm.html http://www.thepetcenter.com/gen/itch.html http://www.pet-supplies-review.com/dog-yeast-infection.html http://www.canismajor.com/dog/mange1.html http://www.thepetcenter.com/exa/mites.html http://www.doggiesparadise.com/dog-skin-disorders.shtml
I hope this gives you a few new directions to explore with your dog! Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions!
I hope your dog is feeling better soon!
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