Skin disease is such a prevalent problem in both dogs and cats and can often be very frustrating for the pet, their owner and the vet. Itchy skin can often be due to an underlying allergy with a secondary infection from the pets scratching and licking making the itch even worse. The most common allergy we see by far in pets is flea bite allergy. Dogs can chew at their rump and inner thighs for weeks following a single flea bite, while cats tend to over-groom or get small scabs through their coat. The ideal treatment for fleas is a new three monthly chew for dogs or a monthly topical spot on for cats. Be sure to treat every pet in the family and to not miss a dose. Atopy is the term for allergies to environmental factors such as pollens, grasses and dust mites. Signs include pets licking their feet, rubbing their abdomen and armpits and scratching their ears. An option for younger pets is to have a veterinary dermatologist perform skin testing to confirm the allergen and develop a vaccine. Alternatively treatment with antibiotics, shampoos and anti-itch drugs can be prescribed by your vet to make your pet comfortable. Food allergy can also occur in pets and has very similar symptoms to atopy. Strictly feeding a special hypoallergenic diet can improve the skin in affected pets. Your vet may also diagnose other causes of itch besides allergies. Primary bacterial or fungal infections can affect the skin including the feet and ears. Hair loss due to mange is common in young puppies while ringworm, a type of fungus, can spread to new kittens as well as their owners. The list of different skin diseases is long but don’t hesitate to see your vet for advice if your cat or dog is keeping you awake with their itch!
“Fan” the Labrador puppy had healthy skin at his check up!