Dogs and cats can be particularly susceptible to skin complaints. As with humans, their skin is very sensitive and problems can be triggered by a number of factors.
Tell-tale signs of a skin condition in a dog or cat include excessive licking and scratching. Your pet might even bite itself or rub the affected skin against objects such as furniture. Scabs, hot spots, rashes and flakes could also appear on any part of your pet’s skin.
However, once identified, skin complaints can usually be treated with the right petmeds, which is why it’s important to watch out for the signs and conditions which can trigger skin problems in cats and dogs.
Five causes of skin complaints affecting your pet:
Almost every dog and cat will get fleas at some point during their lifetime. While some animals may only have a minor reaction to flea bites, others could be allergic to the flea saliva and become extremely sick. Fleas are a major cause of itching and to cope, your dog or cat will lick, scratch, chew or rub its skin. It may also lose patches of hair or get skin sores which could weep and bleed and become infected. Fortunately, flea infestations can be kept at bay and easily treated with regular spot-on treatments. Apply a flea treatment to cats once every five weeks, and a flea treatment to dogs once every eight weeks.
Worm infections, such as ringworm, can affect the layers of the skin. This could cause problems such as alopecia, crusty or scaly skin patches or irritated hair follicles. These types of fungal infections can heal themselves over time but are extremely contagious so the affected animal should be kept away from others. Fungal infections can be treated with topical medication but try to prevent your pet suffering in the first place by applying a regular dog wormer treatment.
Anxiety or boredom can also trigger skin infections or hair loss. Cats in particular can obsess about grooming; experts term this over-grooming, ‘psychogenic alopecia’. It is best to consult your vet about this kind of skin condition. They may advise trying to alter the cat’s environment but will also look to rule out any underlying cause.
Like humans, dogs and cats’ skin can be affected by a change in the seasons. Owners should look out for flaky, dry skin in the cold and eczema-type symptoms in the wet. Your vet can conduct a number of tests to establish what your pet could be allergic to, for example a particular type of pollen.
5. Poor nutrition
Food allergies and poor diet can also cause skin problems, such as eczema or dermatitis, in cats and dogs. Your vet will help you identify what food is causing the reaction, but you may want to add a multivitamin supplement to your pet’s diet to ensure he’s getting the essential vitamins and minerals he needs for good health.