On Whether Dogs Get Psoriasis

Numerous articles refer to canine psoriasis. Is it really a thing?


Psoriasis is one of the most common skin ailments to befall people, as evidenced by the endless parade of ads for medications to combat the disease that float across the television screen. Does it occur in dogs, too?

Articles about canine psoriasis abound, with titles from “Cure for Canine Psoriasis” to “Dog Psoriasis: Signs, Causes, Treatment and Prevention” to “The Spectacular Benefits of CBD Oil For Dog Psoriasis.” Some of them go into the ways that canine psoriasis is exactly like human psoriasis, with the same origins, the same symptoms of scaly patches on the skin, and the same therapies. A number of websites even recommend that a dog with psoriasis get outside for some sunshine to synthesize vitamin D in his skin; that nutrient helps quell the flaking and scaliness for a lot of people.

The problem: psoriasis has not been identified as a disease in dogs. Says Tufts board-certified veterinary dermatologist Ramón Almela, DVM, “no veterinary body has recognized canine psoriasis as an entity at this time. There appears to be only one article on the subject in the scientific literature, on one dog, without a comprehensive work-up. On top of that, the article concludes only that the dog had a ‘psoriasis-like’ condition.” So why are so many people assuming that dogs have psoriasis and disseminating that erroneous information to the public?

What looks like psoriasis is probably an allergy

Symptoms of psoriasis on people look remarkably similar to signs of a skin allergy on dogs:

  • Red, scaly patches or silvery scales
  • Excessive itchiness
  • Excessive dandruff
  • Bleeding (because of cracked skin)

A dog allergy may also result in red footpads that make it difficult to walk because of pain. This can be mistaken for the pain of arthritis — it’s not uncommon for people with psoriasis to also have arthritis.

What triggers the allergy in dogs who are predisposed could be something in the dog’s food or, more typically, something in the environment. If your dog comes down with the constellation of telltale symptoms, you and your vet will have to work backwards to see what might be causing the problem. It’s a difficult process that requires patience.

Once the skin allergy trigger has been diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe medication to calm the symptoms. Longterm medications include Cytopoint®️, a drug injection to reduce itching signals that get sent to the brain and thereby cut down on scratching, allowing the skin to heal; Apoquel®️, a pill that also blocks the itching sensation; Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory drug used as an im-munosuppressant that blunts the allergic response; and immunotherapy, in which injections of the offending allergen are administered or small amounts are placed under the tongue to desensitize a dog’s immune system. Which medicine gets used will be decided by you and the vet together.

As for psoriasis, Dr. Almela comments, “As of now, the disease has not been identified in our canine friends.”


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