One of the most common health problems in pets is allergies. Most people think allergies only affect pets in the warmer months, however, irritable skin can make your favorite pooch or kitty uncomfortable all year round. An allergy is an oversensitive reaction by the body’s immune system to normally harmless substances in the environment. The causes of animal allergies generally fall under the following categories:
- Inhalants—These include seasonal allergens like pollen as well as indoor triggers such as dust and mold.
- Food—Causes may include major proteins or carbohydrates such as beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat, or soy, as well as dyes and preservatives.
- Fleas—A single flea bite can cause severe itching.
Finding the Cause of Irritated Skin
Itchy, scratchy skin can also be symptomatic of other veterinary health issues, including parasites, bacterial and fungal infections, or underlying disease. The best way to determine exactly what is causing your pet’s skin problem is through skin and allergy testing. These tests may consist of skin scrapings, skin cultures, a skin biopsy, or blood allergy testing. Additional blood testing to look for disorders such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease may also be recommended.
Treatment of Skin Problems
After testing, our skilled doctors will design a personalized dermatology treatment program to help your critter companion get some relief. For skin infections, antibiotic and antifungal medications as well as oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed. An individual program to maintain your pet’s skin and prevent allergic flare-ups may include oral antihistamines, a prescription diet trial, omega fatty acid supplementation, and specialized topical products, such as shampoos, conditioners, or sprays, that may contain oatmeal and omega-3 fatty acids.
Symptoms of Skin Problems in Pets
- Scratching, licking, or chewing at skin
- Redness or inflammation
- Dark or black looking wrinkled skin
- Hot spots (one particular area where itching is intense)
- Round, scaly patches on the face and paws
- Dry, flaky, or otherwise irritated skin
- Hair loss and bald patches
- Drainage of blood or pus
- Swellings, lumps, or skin discoloration
- Rubbing face against furniture or carpeting