From time to time you may notice that your cat or dog is not looking as pristine as they usually do.
There are many causes of skin problems including allergies (seasonal and food), parasites, bacterial infections and stress.
The typical symptoms may include:
Flaky or scaly skin
Inflamed areas or redness
Bald patches or excessive hair loss
Lumps and bumps under the skin
A dull-looking coat
You may also notice that your pet is licking or chewing their skin in one area or scratching excessively.
Skin and coat condition can be a good indicator of the overall health of your pet so it is always advisable to consult a vet if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Because a number of different diseases can cause the same symptoms it can often be a challenge for veterinary surgeons to find the cause of the issue and sometimes it can take several visits to get to the root of the problem.
One of the most common skin diseases in pets is called Flea Allergic Dermatitis. This is a sensitivity to the saliva from fleas, transferred to the animal when the flea is feeding on them.
Atopic Dermatitis is often hereditary and is caused by an abnormal reaction to allergens (tiny particles in the environment) such as house dust mites, mould spores, pollens and grasses. Pets can react to one or more of these allergens at the same time.
If your vet cannot find any other obvious cause for your pet’s skin problems, stress may be to blame. Pets that are bored, frustrated or anxious will sometimes alleviate their emotions by overgrooming or repeatedly licking and chewing at an area causing hair loss and redness.
Diagnosis may become more complicated as often skin conditions will lead to a secondary bacterial infection which will need additional treatment.
Treatment for skin problems
Treatment for Flea Allergic Dermatitis revolves around continuous management with a flea prevention product. There are many on the market but with widely varying rates of effectiveness. Choose one that breaks the life cycle of the flea to prevent re-infestation. Remember the pet’s environment will also need treating as most of the flea’s life cycle takes place off the pet.
Atopic Dermatitis is a life long disease that needs to be managed long term. Initially owners may see little improvement in the first month. Alternatively, the itching may stop quickly. Whichever of these apply it is important not to stop the treatment or the problem will re-occur.
If stress is to blame, you’ll need to work out what is causing your pet’s anxiety and take steps to address the situation.