Skin disease is quite common amongst pets, as up to 25% of small animal consultations relate to skin issues. Part of the reason why skin conditions are so common is that skin only reacts in certain ways despite many different causes. Don't forget, ears are lined with skin as well. Skin conditions cause irritation and pain, therefore understanding the cause means a quicker resolution.
Common signs of dermatological issues in pets
Pets suffering from skin problems show a variety of symptoms. The following behaviours or symptoms are signs that may signal a skin disorder in your pets:
- Rubbing excessively against carpet or other surfaces
- Chewing at the skin
- Red, irritated skin, rashes or sores
- Weeping sores or spots
- Excessive scratching or licking of the legs, feet or body
- Repeated rubbing of the face or ears
- Flaky and dry skin
- Loss of fur
- Lumps and bumps
If you notice any of these symptoms, we advise you to schedule an appointment to see a vet.
Causes of dermatological issues
Pets can develop skin issues for many reasons. Some factors include allergies (environmental, food or parasite), bacterial infections, acne, hair loss or parasites such as fleas, ringworms or ear mites.
The resulting skin irritation can vary from mild or temporary to severe infections or other health concerns.
Testing and treatment for dermatological issues
There are a variety of ways to test for dermatology issues. In many cases, the vet or nurse collects a small sample of material such as a fur pluck, skin scrapes or skin swabs and examine them under a microscope. They will be looking for mites, yeast, bacteria and other explanations for why your pet could be in discomfort. Allergy testing is commonly performed by a blood test or skin prick test.
The most common treatments available for dermatological issues are:
- Flea and mite treatments
- Oral or injectable anti-itch medication
- Allergy desensitisation
- Topical medications (creams or ear drops)
- Medicated shampoos and conditioners
- Skin supplements
- Hypoallergenic diet
Your vet will ask you questions of what you have observed regarding your pet's behaviour in many cases. This critical information, paired with their physical examination findings, will allow them to determine the best action plan to correct your pet's skin condition.