Pet skin problems are on the rise, and often, an allergic reaction is the culprit. In addition to allergy, pets with chronic dry skin and flea infestations will need skin care assessment and treatment from the vets here at your Sun City Animal Hospital.
Causes of Skin Allergies
Your pet will have an allergic reaction when his or her body overreacts to a specific allergen, but only after having been exposed to it several times. During the second exposure to the antigen, your pet’s immune system develops antibodies, and during subsequent exposures, histamines are released, which cause the visible symptoms that occur during a reaction.
Common Allergy Triggers
Histamines in pets can be triggered by as many things as in humans, but most frequently, flea bites, airborne allergens, such as grasses and dust mites, or certain foods.
Symptoms of Pet Skin Allergies
The number 1 symptom of a pet that has allergies is itching. All pets itch themselves to some degree, but the allergic itch becomes incessant. In fact, pets may itch themselves to the point of having open sores. Along with these symptoms, your pet may also have recurrent infections at the site of irritation and sores. Specifically, in cats, you may see scratching, biting at the skin, hair pulling and constant grooming. In dogs, the signs of allergy include itching, licking, chewing, scooting, rubbing and scratching.
Fleas have long been the nemesis of dogs, cats, and other animals, and when they take hold of a pet, they cause relentless misery. Many dogs are allergic to flea bites, a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. It’s not the bite itself that causes the itching; it’s your pet’s allergic reaction to the saliva of the fleas which is activated by the itching.
Treatment for Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Our first order of business when your pet has fleas and flea allergy is to get the itching under control, which we do by prescribing a combination of antihistamines and corticosteroids. Once these drugs take hold, your pet will finally find relief. Our next step is to help you develop a plan to eliminate the source of the fleas from the environment which may mean calling in an expert or using quality products to rid your home and yard of fleas.
Other Causes of and Treatments for Skin Disorders
Parasites, skin cancer, infectious disease, systemic disease, hormonal problems, and ear infections can all cause skin disorders in your pet. When pets have skin allergies, the first step is to avoid the source of the allergy. Our veterinarian may prescribe both oral and topical medications and recommend you use special shampoos, moisturizers, and omega-3 fatty acids to help alleviate your pet’s suffering.
Finding the cause of your pet’s allergy on your own is not easy, so we welcome you to visit our clinic or call at (803) 228-4020 and allow our experienced veterinarians to help your pet find relief.
Pet Skin Care FAQ
Pet Skin Care: Stop the Scratching, Licking, and Biting
What is pet skin care?
Sometimes referred to as veterinary dermatology, pet skin care, clinically refers to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin problems in pets.
How can I tell if my pet has a skin problem?
The most common sign of a dermatological problem in pets are excessive scratching, biting, licking, or chewing of fur and skin and repeatedly shaking the head. Additional symptoms of skin problems include a foul odor coming from the skin or ears, hair loss, dandruff, lumps, or a change in the color or texture of your pet's skin or fur.
What causes skin problems in pets?
Several factors cause skin problems in pets. For this reason, a dermatological issue sometimes requires a process of elimination in order to reach a proper diagnosis. All causes fall into six categories:
Allergies - sensitivity to medication, food, pollen, dust, bacteria, etc.
Environmental - sensitivity to the environment like grass, bacteria in water, or thistles
Nutritional - lack of proper nutrition
Parasitic - commonly fleas, ticks, and mites
Infectious - bacterial, fungal, and yeast
Neurogenic - simply neurological, a tic rather than a tick
How does a veterinarian diagnose a skin problem?
If your pet's skin problem covers its entire body, our veterinarian will begin by testing your pet for allergies. If the symptoms appear to be confined to a smaller area, a veterinarian will look for parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, or ringworm. If the problem seems to be connected to an underlying issue, blood tests might be necessary to determine the exact cause.
Are skin problems treatable?
Yes. Depending on the cause of your pet's dermatological problem, our veterinarian might prescribe topical treatments like creams, environmental changes, diet adjustments like hypoallergenic food, oral medications, or a special bath and a deep clean of your home to rid your pet of any parasites.
If your pet displays symptoms of a skin problem, schedule an appointment at Sun City Animal Hospital right away.