Golden Retriever Skin issues

Golden Retriever Skin issues

The Golden retrieverOpens in a new tab. is the golden beauty of the retrievers with their luxurious thick, dense blond coat. This retriever has two coatsOpens in a new tab., as in a double coat, like most of the retrieving breeds.

Shedding all year, the golden retrieverOpens in a new tab. disperses quite a lot of fur in spring and fall and is considered a moderate shedder until these times and is then deemed a heavy shedder.

With their double coat, they have a soft, wooly undercoat that is waterproof and insulating and a longer wavy topcoat. It is the undercoat that sheds heavily two times a year.

Your retriever will lose their entire undercoat in spring to make way for a cooler summer coat and in fall the process will be repeated to grow a much warmer and insulated undercoat.

Sometimes we are so busy brushing and grooming out the Golden retrievers that we forget that they have skin Opens in a new tab.underneath which is considered the largest organ in the body.

With all of that fur, who knows what’s lurking underneath all of that fluff! This post will be information on golden retriever skin issuesOpens in a new tab. and common golden retriever skin problems. Golden retriever skin infections will also be included.

To check your Golden Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vetOpens in a new tab. website for all the help you may need.

Golden Retriever Skin issues
Image by Don MetznikOpens in a new tab. from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Common Golden Retriever Skin Problems

Dogs, as well as humans, can suffer from skin problemsOpens in a new tab. and the golden retriever is no exception. In fact, out of two Golden retrievers,Opens in a new tab. one will develop a skin issue.

There can be a lot going on under that ample amount of fur that we can be unaware of if you never look.

That’s why it’s important to check your pup’s skin frequently during brushing and bathing, especially if you notice a lot of scratching or licking on your dog’s part. Below are some common skin problems found in Golden retrievers.Opens in a new tab.

  • Seborrhea

When sebaceous glands of the skin begin producing an overabundance of sebum (an oily substance used to hydrate the skin), this will result in seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea.

Seborrhea can be of two types: seborrhea oleos (oily), or seborrhea sicca (dry), and can even be a combination of the two, which is what most canines develop. Symptoms are:

  • Inflamed, red skin
  • Appears in folds of underbelly, feet, thighs, armpits, neck
  • Flaky skin, white, like dandruff
  • Oily and/or dry patches
  • Odor from lesions

Seborrhea causes can be:

  • Parasites
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Obesity and sweating
  • Environment – weather-related, heat, humidity, temperature, etc.
  • Hormonal imbalance caused by Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, etc.

Seborrhea Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and can be one or more of the following:

  • Steroids, oral or topical
  • Shampoo or sprays specifically for seborrhea
  • Cyclosporine
  • Omega 3 fatty acid supplements
  • Correct meds if seborrhea is due to a hormonal imbalance and underlying disease


Allergies can manifest in many ways and sometimes the skin is affected, and this can show up in different ways. Below are types of allergies, symptoms, causes, and treatments.


Fleas can be a big problem for dogsOpens in a new tab. and their owners. Prevention is the best way to avoid this sometimes all-consuming problem with the use of flea collars, monthly flea medication in oral pill form, or drops placed on the back of your pup’s neck, which gradually spreads the liquid to protect against fleas.

Dogs are not allergic to fleas, but their saliva when they bite and this can cause intense excessive and continuous itching, which causes your retriever to scratch uncontrollably and may lead to broken skin, Opens in a new tab.sores, hair loss, and possible infection.

Unfortunately, fleas multiply quite rapidly and one flea can equal a horrific infestation in a short period of time. Treatments can be flea shampoos, sprays, or powders.

Treating your home with a flea bomb or hiring an exterminator may be necessary to rid your home of fleas as well as washing your pup’s bedding and toys.


Mites are a parasite and come in a few types which can be found in different areas on your Golden retriever’s body while causing many problems.

Mites are extremely contagious and can jump from one dog or cat to another. All mites cause itching and a few mites are ear mites, walking dandruff mites, mange mites, scabies mites, and Demodex.

Ear mites will be evident by itching, shaking of the head, a coffee-like substance in the ears, and odorous ears. Other mites will cause itching that can result in biting, chewing and loss of fur.

Common Golden Retriever Skin Problems
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Just as allergens affect many of us, the same can be true for our dogs. Canine atopic dermatitis is a chronic and inflammatory disease of the skin caused by environmental allergens, such as dust mites, mold spores, grass, pollen, cleaning products, and rug cleaners.

Dogs more commonly affected by this are bulldogs, cocker spaniels, Shih Tzu’s, and Golden retrievers.Opens in a new tab. The skin issues can also be accompanied by rhinitis and asthma if these allergens are also inhaled. Skin symptoms are:

  • Licking
  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Lesions
  • Yeast smell
  • Loss of fur in patches

Areas affected can be:

  • Between toes
  • Feet
  • Armpits
  • Undersides
  • Ears
  • Muzzle
  • Groin
  • Tail

Treatment for Canine Atopic Dermatitis

There is no total cure for canine atopic dermatitis. You and your veterinarian need to do some detective work and find out what the cause is through testing. Treatments can be:

  • Immune-modulating medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Bathing with medicated shampoos to heal
  • Oatmeal shampoos to soothe

These treatments may be used in combination.

  • Hot spots

Hot spots are very red and swollen areas often found on your dog’s under-paws or wrists but can be found anywhere there is irritation and constant friction.

These are usually caused by allergies to grass or pollen if your pup spends a lot of time outdoors.

Your retriever keeps chewing and licking these spots which only makes matters worse by keeping them moist which does not help them heal.

The topical liquid medication is often prescribed and soothing baths with an oatmeal shampoo can help.

Oral steroids can also be administered if your pup has many that just won’t clear. Trying to keep the area dry can also help.

Yes, your golden retriever can develop food allergies Opens in a new tab.too, exhibiting many of the same skin maladies as above as well as gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

Allergens are generally a protein found on your retriever’s food such as chicken, lamb, beef, eggs, etc.

Sometimes the offender can be grain-like wheat. Finding the culprit can be a challenge and changing your pup’s food should clear up symptoms. Many hypoallergenic foods are available for dogs.

Golden Retriever Skin Infections

Skin infections in golden retrievers usually come about due to many of the common skin problemsOpens in a new tab. above.

Having skin that is already red, raw, and broken open can leave the door open for bacteria and infection. Below are two different types of infection, bacterial and yeast.

Bacterial infection

A bacterial infection or pyoderma can develop when skin irritation is present and in any age of the dog, but senior dogs and canines with underlying diseases, like hypothyroidism, can be more susceptible. Symptoms can be:

  • Inflamed skin
  • Flaky, dry patches
  • Pustules
  • Licking/chewing
  • Oozing lesions
  • Patchy, bald areas
  • Foul smell

Treatment can be oral antibiotics such as clindamycin, cephalexin, or amoxicillin. Sometimes topical remedies like ointments or antibacterial sprays or shampoos are often used in conjunction with oral meds.

Yeast infection

This is the more common infection found in canines and also more in dogs that are immunocompromised, take steroids on a regular basis or suffer from atopic dermatitis. Symptoms are:

  • Red, itchy skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Open sores
  • Green or yellow discharge
  • Oily coat
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Skin that has an odor.

If your pup’s yeast infection is not too serious, medicated shampoos are the best course of action but need to be used every few days up to twelve weeks until the infection is gone.

When cases are severe or recurring anti-fungal medications such as fluconazole, itraconazole or ketoconazole may be prescribed.

Even though your golden retriever will have regular veterinarian wellness visits, you will need to keep an eye out for any signs of any type of illness.

When dealing with skin issuesOpens in a new tab., check their skin regularly when brushing or bathing. If you notice any of the concerning signs or symptoms above, have your veterinarian take a look.

It’s best to catch something early on and take care of it easily than wait until skin symptoms escalate and you have a full-blown infection.

In the case of your golden retriever’s health, it’s best to make a “mountain out of a molehill” so climbing the mountain doesn’t become too steep!

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