Healthy Skin Means a Healthy Pet
Like humans, dogs and cats suffer from many problems that affect their skin. It’s important to understand that the skin is an organ that functions as a barrier to protect the body from infection, chemical substances, ultra violet light, and dehydration. By maintaining healthy skin, you protect your pet’s overall health.
Additionally, skin problems are typically itchy and uncomfortable for your pet, so it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. If allergies are the problem, this may include allergy testing or biopsies.
Diseases that affect the skin can be placed into one of two categories: primary and secondary skin disease. Primary skin diseases are those that affect the skin directly, including a variety of diseases or flea and tick hypersensitivities. Secondary diseases are those that initially involve other organs, and then affect the skin, such as thyroid hormone deficiency. Learn more about common pet conditions and diseases that affect skin.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your pet’s skin problems often combine two or more conditions or diseases. Because of the complicated interactions between the skin and other organs within the body, diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases may be difficult and time consuming.
Treatment of skin disease may include steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, topical drugs, antifungal drugs, shampoos and rinses, dietary supplementation, or modification and surgical removal of masses. In some cases, therapy must be continued for months or even for life.
Meet our Specialist in Pet Allergies and Dermatology
Deer Creek Animal Hospital provides a full-scope of pet dermatology services led by David Beadleston, DVM. Dr. Beadleston graduated from veterinary school at the University of California at Davis in 1985, and then came to Colorado to start his veterinary practice. He has extensive experience in both general veterinary medicine and emergency medicine. Dr. Beadleston became a board-certified specialist in pet dermatology in 1997.
Is your cat or dog itchy or do you see issues with their skin? If so, give us a call and set up an appointment.
Following are some of the common diseases and conditions affecting the skin, as well as a brief description of their diagnosis and treatments.
Humans with allergies usually react by sneezing, but a pet typically reacts by scratching. Both you and your pet are reacting to an allergen, which is a substance that causes sensitivity. Most allergens are inhaled, but a few are initiated by contact, such as an allergy to wool. Some allergens are found in food, most commonly corn, wheat, soy, beef, and dairy products.
The first signs of allergic reactions are scratching, licking, biting, or rubbing the skin. This can lead to infection characterized by red bumps and pimples. Because of the discomfort, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible.
Food allergies often manifest themselves as skin problems. Food allergies are usually diagnosed by ruling out other possible conditions. Treatment is trial feeding of hypoallergenic diets for a minimum of six weeks.
A bacterial infection is common, but is usually secondary to another underlying disease such as an allergy. Treatment for bacterial infections may include antibiotics, either given orally or topically. It is important to seek professional help to treat and manage the bacterial infection while searching for the underlying disease.
Hot Spots or Acute Moist Dermatitis
Hot spots are usually a result of self-trauma and occur as your pet tries to relieve itself from a pain or itch. Treatment includes thorough cleaning, topical and systemic antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory agents. Sometimes hot spots result from a behavioral problem, which can be addressed by Dr. Laurie Thornton.
Pyodermas include a wide range of infections that result in the formation of pus. Pyodermas vary in severity. Treatment is similar to that for hot spots, but typically is longer term. Shampoos and rinses are also helpful.
Atopy or Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis
Atopy is a very itchy skin disease that is the result of allergies to microscopic particles in the air. Diagnosis is based on clinical presentation and absence of other causes such as ectoparasites. Treatment includes dietary supplements, antihistamines, and steroids and is often long term. In refractory cases, skin allergen testing and hyposensitization may be helpful. Shampoos and rinses are also often helpful.
Ectoparasites (External Parasites)
External parasites include mites, fleas, and ticks. These parasites break the barrier formed by the skin and allow bacterial infections to occur. They also may lead to allergic conditions. Diagnosis is achieved by observation and/or microscopic examination of skin scrapings. Treatment depends on the parasites present and includes antiparasitic drugs and antiparasitic shampoos and rinses.
Fungal infections include Malassezia (yeast) and Dermatophytosis (ringworm). Diagnosis is done by culturing the organisms and microscopic examination of skin scrapings. Treatment includes topical and systemic antifungal drugs and antifungal shampoos and rinses.