Top 3 Border Terrier Skin Problems And How To Treat Them

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It’s only been of a few days ago that we found out Indy has developed a dry skin patch at the bottom of his back, just where that tail starts, which is causing dandruff.  This has prompted me to search to find out whether dogs can have dandruff.  So, today, more closely to home, let me talk to you about 3 most recurring Border Terrier skin problems and how to treat them.


#1.  Dandruff

Dog dandruff
Borders are not the only breed affected by dandruff.

Like with humans, dandruff is equally common in dogs.  Particularly with Borders, though, dandruff can be recurring due to the particular double layer coat Borders are renowned to have – that very same coat, which is advisable to hand strip rather than to shave.  

Dandruff in a dog is caused by the accumulation of dead skin cells, which then start falling off the top layer of your dog’s skin in the form of flakes.


The cause of dandruff can be found in minor allergies, low humidity (in fact Indy is getting dandruff now, when we are having warmer weather in UK), but it can also be the sign of lack of certain vitamins, minerals and fat in your Border’s diet.

However, more rarely, your dog may have a fungal or bacterial skin infection, which can cause dandruff.  In this case, however, dandruff will not be limited to a specific patch on your Border’s body, but it will more likely be spread over your dog’s entire body.

No matter what the cause of dandruff, sometimes it can give your dog irritating itchiness.  Other times, however, like with my Indy at present, it just does not give him any itchiness nor soreness at all.  However, you can see the flakes surfacing up to his coat.


So, how to get rid of dandruff?

Sometimes just brushing your Border’s coat regularly gets rid of the problem.  By getting rid of the top layer of your Border’s coat, whose hair detaches naturally from his or her body (see my article on whether Borders moult) you enable your dog’s skin to become less ‘crowded’ with unwanted hair and to breathe more easily.  And by brushing your dog’s coat you of course also get rid of the actual flakes.

Another solution is to start bathing your dog with specialised shampooing products.  This solution is particularly indicated if your dog shows signs of itchiness, by trying to reach out to the patch area and by trying to scratch it.  There are ever so many good products on the market.  I believe aloe vera based shampoo are the best as they treat your dog’s skin naturally.

Changing your dog’s diet is something else you should look into.  Again, you can consider adding specific ingredients to your dog’s diet.  Salmon is renowned for maintaining a healthy skin and coat in your dog, due to the fatty acids and omega 3 elements naturally present in this fish.  But if you are not sure of what is missing in your Border’s diet, I suggest going for healthy supplements, such as the Pooch & Mutt Bionic Biotic Health Supplement.

If, in spite of all these measures, the dandruff does not go away, of course you might want to consult your vet.


#2.  Atopic Dermatitis

Again, this condition can be quite common in Borders, although not as common as the more general dandruff.  My Indy thankfully has never presented symptoms.


Canine atopy, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition related to allergies.

Yes, your Border can be allergic to one or more things, just in the same way as humans.  This can range from dust, to specific foods, to which (s)he can develop intolerance, to grass even or any other environmental related allergens.  Dogs can suffer from hay fever too!!!

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But, like with humans, when put in contact these allergens to which your dog’s immune-system reacts, the result can be strong, annoying and sometimes painful attacks of dermatitis.

Canine atopy symptoms can be hair loss, itchy skin and hardened skin.  Another sign you will see in your dog is the fact that (s)he will keep licking the top of their paws.


Humans sometimes can grow out of allergies.  Sometimes they can become allergic to specific allergens as they grow older.

On  the other hand, once your Border develops atopy, the condition is incurable.  But you can manage the symptoms, so that your dog’s quality of life is not affected.

In order to relieve the effects of canine atopy, you need to go the source, i.e. you want to work out what are the trigger allergens that cause the discomfort, itchiness and inflamed red skin.

This should prompt an ongoing conversation with your vet, who is likely to suggest a course of immunotheraphy to work out which allergens your dog reacts to.  This normally takes a number of months, just like in humans.

At the same time, your vet will suggest other solutions in order to stop the irritating itchiness as well as to reduce progressively the inflammation of the skin.

Your vet may suggest, again, shampoos containing natural ingredients such as oatmeal and aloe vera, which have soothing and healing effects on inflammed skin.

Once the cause of the allergy has been identified, your vet will put in place a care plan for your dog in order to reduce your Border being exposed to the trigger allergens.  So, if for instance your dog is allergic to dust, you will reduce the amount of textiles in your home.  You will ensure that your home is kept thoroughly dusted at all times, and you will make sure your dog’s favourite beds and blanket are equally washed regularly.

In other words, the management process for canine atopy is very much the same as with humans suffering from allergies.


#3.  Pyoderma

This is a skin condition which I’d heard of before, and which sometimes Borders can be affected by more than other breeds.

Pyoderma is the scariest of skin conditions, as it presents with skin cuts and lesions, often infected with pus.

Dog hair loss
Pyoderma often presents with hair loss.


Pyoderma is caused by bacterial infections after your Border’s skin is cut.  Now, I am not necessarily thinking of the dog fight scenario – I know, Borders can be temperamental, and sometimes not very dog friendly, but the reality is that it is very rare that your Border may get caught in an altercation with another dog, which may result in nasty bites.

It is more likely that your Border will accidentally get cut whilst walking, either on his or her paws, legs, or sometimes on their body, if they brush on some low hedge branches, or on protruding sharp edges of walls or gates.

If the cut becomes infected by bacteria, it can start developing pus, and also cause hair loss.


Pyoderma needs the intervention of your vet, who initially may prescribe antibiotics trying to reduce the inflammation.  However, it the swelling and pus do not reduce, your vet might try to take a sample and have it analysed, so that pathologists can confirm which type of bacteria your dog has and which treatment is better suited to destroy it.

It is always advisable to seek help if you suspect your dog may have pyoderma.  When untreated, pyoderma may penetrate into the most inner skin layers, affecting other parts of the body and vital organs, and causing therefore more severe health conditions.



I like to keep my Indy spruced up as much as I can 🙂

Now, don’t get me wrong, the fact that these conditions are found to be the top 3 Border Terrier skin problems doesn’t necessarily mean your Border will suffer from any of them in their lifetime.

As with any other condition, the secret is often in catching the condition at its early stages.  It is always recommendable, therefore, that you maintain your Border’s coat nice and clean regularly.

True, not all Borders love bath time.  But washing your Border with appropriate shampoos and hand strip their coat equally regularly not doubt will help.

The one thing that all Borders love is cuddles time.  Keep an eye on your Border’s body whilst you are giving her or him a good stroke, to ‘inspect’ their skin to make sure there aren’t any red or bold patches.  Likewise, check areas that you think your Border may try to reach out to more frequently, trying to scratch them.

And of course, if ever in doubt, always seek your vet’s advice!!!

Now, if your Border suffers from these conditions, or from any other skin condition that I have not mentioned; of (s)he suffers from nasty allergies, why don’t you leave a comment below, to share with us how you manage your Border’s condition?  I shall reply to all of your comments asap.

Thanks for reading!!


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  1. // Reply


    My 9 year old male Boarder Terrier Freddie has fur issues, his soft fur seems to have stopped growing and this may be a result of being on Steroid tables for a skin condition, which he is off now and has been for the last month. He is due stripping, however I am not sure whether to strip him whilst his fur is in this state. Any advice would be greatly received.

    Thank you

    1. // Reply

      Jane, first of all I’m ever so sorry that your Freddie had skin problems which had to be solved with steroids. I am hoping his skin is better now.
      You might want to seek advice from your groomer regarding stripping him now, whilst his fur is not growing back as much. When our Indy had his 2 cancer ops, where he was shaved a lot, our groomer told us that, because of the shaving and Oder his age, she could start shaving him instead of stripping him. However she explained that, once you started shaving a Border, you could not revert back to stripping him in future.
      One more thing I wanted to mention. Have you considered bathing Freddie with CBD shampoo? I have recently become an associate of this company, but I am not simply trying to flog you this product. I have read so many testimonials about how CBD shampoo not only treats canine skin conditions, but also revitalises the fur, because of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. CBD, for both humans and pets, is legal in most countries worldwide, including States and U.K. I shall leave you with this link for your perusal:
      I am starting Indy on the actual hemp oil as an overall beneficial effect for his old age aches and pains – and also, because I understand it works in the same direction of Indy’s metronomic chemotherapy. The more I read about CBD, the more I find it absolutely amazing how much it can improve humans’ and pets’ quality of life!
      Let me know how you get on with Freddie’s fur issue, and thank you ever so much for stopping by ♥️♥️

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