Healthy pets have healthy skin.
With summer here, many pets will have more skin problems than they experience in cooler months. It’s important to keep your pet’s skin as healthy as you keep his insides, and in order to do that, you need to educate yourself about skin issues in dogs and cats.
When your pet’s health is compromised, it is often seen first in skin problems. Itching, scratching, chewing and licking are all indications that something isn’t right. Many things—and combinations of things—can cause skin disorders, including:
- external parasites
- poor metabolism
How can you tell if your pet’s skin is in need of medical treatment?
Here are some common signs, and if you see them present, it is wise to take your animal to see his vet.
- scratching, licking, rubbing or chewing in excess
- ear infection or inflammation
- scabs or scaly patches
- dandruff or dry, flaky skin
- irritated skin
- unpleasant odor from the skin or ears
- swelling or hives
- bumps or lumps
- hair loss, baldness, or excessive shedding
- redness, inflammation or rash
- hot spots (areas of intense discomfort)
- drainage of blood or pus
- changes in hair or skin color
There is a wide gamut of reasons your pet may be experiencing discomfort in his skin. Here are some of the more common reasons:
- mange mites
- ear mites
- allergies to food or environment
- skin tumors
- grooming products
What will your veterinarian do to diagnose the problem?
First, a thorough physical exam. If the problem isn’t apparent with this exam, other diagnostic tests may be performed. Some common tests include blood tests to check overall health and hormonal situation, cultures to check for fungal infections such as ringworm, allergy testing to determine sensitivity to environmental factors and possibly a diet change. Additionally, your vet may check for yeast or bacterial infections via a skin impression, or a skin biopsy may be necessary to check for cancer.
There are some basic things you can do to make sure your cat or dog doesn’t have skin problems.
Here are some helpful tips.
- Bathe your dog regularly and be sure all shampoo is rinsed out of his coat
- Brush your dog frequently to remove mats and debris and to check for problems arising
- Feed your pet a diet recommended by a veterinarian
- Prevent parasites with a regular parasite-prevention regimen or flea-treatment program
- Use products your veterinarian recommends to help assuage problems before they become health issues
- Be sure the area where your pet sleeps is clean
A regular check up with your pet’s doctor is a key component to making sure your pet stays healthy. Our dogs get regular twice-yearly health checks and have their teeth cleaned once a year.