Hyperkeratosis in Dogs: All you need to know

by | Apr 10, 2022 | Dog Health

Hyperkeratosis in Dogs

Have you noticed a rough crust covered in the skin around your dog’s feet or the nose? Perhaps your dog is having trouble walking? There’s a chance the dog is suffering from Hyperkeratosis.

We’ll present an overview of the condition known as dog hyperkeratosis. Learn about the causes, signs, and ways to manage and treat the disease.

What’s Hyperkeratosis in dogs?

The condition is known as paw pad hyperkeratosis. It’s a skin disorder where the dog develops dry and sensitive skin on its bottom feet. It’s also referred to as “hairy pet feet” because it appears like a dog has hair that is not normal on its bottom feet. If this looks like something your dog is suffering from, this is the information you should be aware of.

Hyperkeratosis happens when your dog is prone to producing excessive amounts of Keratin. Keratin is the principal protein that forms the nails, hair, and skin. It functions as a layer of protection for the skin to protect it from external surroundings. If excessive Keratin is present, it can accumulate and can cause harm to your pet.

A rough, crusty spot may be seen on your dog’s paws, nose, and ear when it happens. It can leave your dog susceptible to infections because the protective layer is cracked and no longer protects the skin from bacteria and various harmful substances. If not treated, it may cause pain for your dog to stand, move or walk.

What Causes Hyperkeratosis?

Many factors come into play in the case of Hyperkeratosis among dogs. These includes:

  • Age. Hyperkeratosis is more prevalent among older dogs or those who are middle-aged. Dogs’ skin tends to become thicker as they age, making the older dog more susceptible to developing the disease.
  • Genetics and Breeding. Certain breeds of dogs have a higher risk of developing Hyperkeratosis regardless of age, such as Cocker Spaniels Dogues de Bordeaux, Irish Terriers, and Labradors.
  • Zinc deficiency. Zinc plays a crucial function in ensuring that proteins function as they are supposed to. If your dog isn’t getting enough zinc, it can cause an abnormal production of the Keratin. This can lead to conditions such as zinc dermatosis.
  • Parasites. The presence of parasites can cause keratin hyperproduction. As an example, your dog might be diagnosed with leishmaniasis. This parasitic disease occurs when the sandfly bites your dog’s skin.
  • Infectious Diseases. Hyperkeratosis is an opportune symptom of infections, such as canine distemper virus or papillomavirus infection.
  • Auto-immune Disorders. Conditions such as pemphigus foliaceous can trigger your dog to produce more Keratin. If this occurs, the immune system attack cellulite in the face, causing dry and cracked skin.

What are the symptoms of Hyperkeratosis in Dogs?

Like with all diseases and conditions, it’s crucial to identify Hyperkeratosis as early as possible to ensure that your pet will receive the treatment it requires. Be aware of the following symptoms and signs:

  • Dry skin, crusty layer
  • Fragments, cracks, and bleeding
  • The sensation of pain or sensitivity is felt in the area affected (nose, ears, paws, or paws)
  • Skin color loss in the affected region
  • Frequent licking of the paws
  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Reducing physical activity
  • Secondary infections

Note any changes in your physical or mental behavior that could indicate Hyperkeratosis. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should get help from your vet immediately.

How Does Your Vet Diagnose Canine Hyperkeratosis?

Because Hyperkeratosis creates a distinct look and pattern on your dog’s skin, It is much more straightforward for your vet to identify the problem. The process usually begins with a physical exam; however, your veterinarian may need different diagnostic tests.

For instance, your veterinarian could run some blood tests to determine if you have an infection. You can also request an examination of the skin affected to be examined more closely. In the end, the dog’s skin may be more susceptible to infection than normal skin due to cracks through which harmful particles may be able to enter.

Finally, your doctor might conduct additional tests like histopathology and biopsy to determine the reason for the illness. This is done in cases where other symptoms occur due to an underlying condition.

How to treat Hyperkeratosis in dogs

As of now, there is no cure currently available for Hyperkeratosis that dogs suffer from. However, you can manage the symptoms after your dog has been diagnosed. Hyperkeratosis is usually harmless; however, your dog may require treatment in more severe instances.

Here are a few treatments that you could consider. It is possible to discuss the matter with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog receives the highest quality of care.

The underlying Disease Treatment

As previously mentioned, Hyperkeratosis in your dog could occur due to a different illness. It may be an auto-immune condition or be the result of an infection. If your dog is suffering from an underlying problem that requires treatment, the process will concentrate on treating that disease. In the end, it must be treated to enhance your dog’s quality of living.

Excess Keratin Trimming

If there’s no cause for illness and the Hyperkeratosis doesn’t threaten life, you can trim the excess Keratin off your dog’s paws. However, you must consult your veterinarian before ensuring you can do the procedure safely.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Gently remove the crusty layer around the affected area.
  • Attach to the surface if you end up slicing your dog’s skin.

Feet Soaking

Make sure you pat your dog’s paws dry to stop infections from getting into the skin that has been damaged. If the area affected is on the paws, think about soaking your pet’s feet in warm, pliable water using Epsom salt for about 15 minutes. This will ease the pain that Hyperkeratosis causes in the paw pads.

Over-the-Counter Ointments

It is also possible to apply over-the-counter topical ointments to soften Keratin’s growth and relieve the dog’s discomfort. Ask your veterinarian for the best choice if you’re unsure of the product to purchase and what to use.

Antibiotics or Antifungals

If your dog suffers from an infection on the skin, along with Hyperkeratosis or Hyperkeratosis, your vet may suggest an antibiotic or antifungal treatment. It may come as ointments, creams, or pills. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and all treatment steps to achieve the best outcomes.

Preventing Hyperkeratosis in Dogs

In some instances, Hyperkeratosis may be transmitted from the dog’s parent to the puppy. However, as long as your dog is not genetically predisposed to Hyperkeratosis, canine Hyperkeratosis is treatable.

Here’s how you can help your dog avoid Hyperkeratosis:

  • Check the condition of the pads of your dog’s paws. Make sure they’re smooth and healthy or if there’s any roughness or cracks over the area.
  • Make sure you keep your home tidy to avoid the spread of harmful particles that can cause infections.
  • Clip the nails of your dog frequently to prevent scrapes and accidents.
  • Make sure your dog is immunized against the canine distemper virus.
  • Check with your vet for yearly check-ups.

Enhance Your Dog’s quality of life

Hyperkeratosis can cause pain for your pet to walk or stand. Although there isn’t a cure, your dog could live an improved life with the available treatment options. It is also helpful to learn the best ways for you to make sure your dog is content and healthy to live a longer and healthier life.

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