What is Seborrhea?
We have a six-year-old Cocker Spaniel named Cindy whose hair and skin have become increasingly oily over the past few months. Repeated baths did not help so we took her to our veterinarian. Seborrhea was the diagnosis and we were given some special shampoo to treat Cindy with. Can you tell us something about seborrhea and whether the dog could have picked it up from a person?
Seborrhea is a common skin disease caused by the increased activity
of the skin cells and glands. It is not a contagious skin disease,
so Cindy didn't acquire the seborrhea from a person or another
There are two main types of seborrhea that may be seen. Seborrhea sicca causes a dry scaling and seborrhea oleosa causes a greasy skin and hair coat. Animals with either type of seborrhea usually have a poor coat appearance and itchy skin.
There are many causes of seborrhea. Seborrhea sicca may be hereditary in some breeds such as German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Labradors, and Dobermans. Seborrhea may be caused by a thyroid hormone deficiency, or other endocrine problems. Localized seborrhea problems may be seen secondarily to skin parasites, fungal or bacterial infections, or allergies.
Because of this, your veterinarian will always search for a primary cause when treating seborrhea. It is important to identify the cause of the seborrhea in order to treat it successfully. Your veterinarian may have recommended a skin scrape (evaluate for mites) or may have submitted blood tests to check for a thyroid deficiency or other systemic problems that may be the cause of Cindy's skin problems.
An antiseborrheic shampoo is a critical component of successful management of seborrhea. Depending on the cause and type of the seborrhea, different products may be used. Often with seborrhea sicca all that is necessary is regular use of a good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Seborrhea oleosa usually requires shampoos containing salicylic acid, sulfur, and coal tar. It is important when using these medicated shampoos to leave the lather on the pet for at least 10 minutes. Please make sure you follow the directions given to you by your veterinarian to get the most benefit from the shampoo.