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shar pei with skin folds

Skin Fold Dermatitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Did you know that around 20% of dogs suffer from skin fold related problems? If your dog has wrinkly skin, a short nose or is overweight, they could be suffering from skin fold dermatitis. If left untreated, it can become a painful and irritating condition.  

Let’s take a closer look at skin fold dermatitis in dogs: what it is, how to spot the symptoms and most importantly, what you can do to treat it. 

What is skin fold dermatitis? 

Skin fold dermatitis is an infection that occurs between the skin folds of dogs. The infection occurs when the heat and moisture between skin folds encourages a build up of yeast and bacteria.

Areas on the dog where skin folds are more prominent include the lips, vulva, groin, armpit and facial folds, although dermatitis can happen anywhere on your dog’s body where there is wrinkled or extra skin.

Causes of skin fold dermatitis in dogs

Certain breeds are more predisposed to the condition; British Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Shar Pei’s are particularly prone to skin fold dermatitis, but it can affect any dog, especially if they are overweight. 

Spaniels can be predisposed to lip fold dermatitis as they often have an additional skin fold present in their bottom jaw which accumulates saliva, creating a warm and moist environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive.

British Bulldog with skin folds

Read more: Everything you need to know about pyoderma in dogs

The symptoms can be seasonal or all year round depending on what the trigger is. In some cases, a reaction can occur due to environmental allergens, such as grass and tree pollens, dust mites or mould. 

Food allergy is also a common trigger. Dogs can typically be allergic to meat, fish, dairy, and soy, so it’s worth checking with your vet if you think your dog’s diet might be causing a reaction. 

Symptoms: how to spot skin fold dermatitis in dogs 

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, they could be suffering from skin fold dermatitis: 

  • Red skin between folds
  • Smelly skin
  • Licking or scratching of the skin
  • Weeping sores inside folds
  • Swollen skin 

Try to get into the habit of checking their skin regularly and if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to get in touch with your vet as soon as you can.

Skin fold dermatitis treatment for dogs

Treatment for skin fold dermatitis will depend on how serious and how advanced your dog’s condition is. As an owner, the most important thing you can do is contact your vet. They’ll be able to diagnose it (symptoms can belong to other conditions) and to prescribe a suitable course of treatment.

Treatments may include:

  • Regular cleaning with antibacterial wipes 
  • Antibacterial shampoo
  • Creams to ease itching & irritation
  • Surgery (in extreme cases)

Many cases of skin fold dermatitis in dogs will require continual treatment. Treatments will also depend on what your vet discerns to be the underlying cause of the condition.

Read more: How to clean your dog's eyes

Need more info?

For more information on skin fold dermatitis in dogs, or any aspect of their health care, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our find a vet page, or speak to a vet online using our online video vets service.