Making Your Skin Crawl: Common Pet Skin Problems and Their Causes
You might think that besides annual wellness visits, the next most common reason that pets visit us at Blue Valley Animal Hospital is to say hello to our wonderful team! While we wish that were the case, unfortunately we see pets for a lot of other reasons – dermatologic issues being one of the top motivations for a trip to the vet.
Learn about the most commonly diagnosed pet skin problems, what causes them, and what you can do to keep your visits to see us to a minimum.
Common Pet Skin Problems
There are entire textbooks dedicated to animal dermatology, but we tend to see certain conditions more often than others. Common pet skin problems include:
Atopy — Atopic dermatitis is a very common, albeit frustrating, pet skin condition. It occurs due to abnormalities in the skin’s protective barrier, resulting in the development of allergy and sensitivity to environmental allergens such as dust and pollen. Affected pets are often itchy and inflamed, with swollen or scabbed, red skin. This condition is typically manageable but not curable and may range from mild seasonal trouble to serious year-round misery.
Otitis externa — While it may not be intuitive, the external ear infections that we typically see in pets are related to imbalances in the skin and are often brought on by environmental or food allergies.
Flea allergic dermatitis — Fleas are no fun no matter what, but some pets are allergic to flea saliva, resulting in intense itching.
Food allergies — Contrary to popular belief, things like grains are rarely responsible for food allergies in pets. Proteins like poultry, beef, and soy are the main culprits.
Mange — Mites that live in the hair follicles are more commonly referred to as mange. There are two main types, sarcoptic (scabies) which is more contagious, and demodectic which is generally not. Both can cause hair loss and itching to varying degrees.
Dermatophytosis — Ringworm is a fungal organism that lives on the skin that can result in hair loss and scaling in small or large areas.
Systemic endocrine problems — Problems with the hormonal regulations in the body such a hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome can cause changes in the skin and hair coat.
Secondary skin infection — Bacteria and yeast live on the skin all the time, but can become imbalanced in the face of other issues, causing hot spots, scales, bumps, and sores. Secondary skin infections often must be treated in addition to the underlying problem.
Pet skin problems are even more difficult because so many of them can look identical. It is important to come in and see us at the first signs of trouble so that we can properly diagnose and treat your pet.
Although it’s impossible to safeguard your pet from every potential There are some things that you can do, however, to ensure that your pet’s skin and coat are healthy and have the best chance possible to fight off trouble.
Be sure to:
- Feed a high quality diet
- Keep your pet on year round flea and tick prevention
- Bring your pet in for periodic wellness screenings
- Provide a good grooming routine to prevent matting and keep the skin healthy
- Consider supplementing your pet’s diet with a quality fish oil under guidance
Of course, don’t delay coming in if your pet seems itchy, is losing hair, or you are seeing sores or rashes. Skin problems in pets can be miserable, and the longer you wait the longer your pet waits for relief!