Other than vaccinations, skin problems are the number one reason for taking your pet to see the vet. Dogs and cats are susceptible to a huge number of skin problems; ranging from mild itchiness to chronic ear infections that require drastic surgeries. To celebrate Healthy Skin Month, we have put together a handy guide to help you diagnose, treat and also prevent skin problems in your pets.
Look out for the following four signs of skin problems in your pet:
Red, sore and irritated skin
Red and/or smelly ears
Constant licking of paws
If you spot one of these symptoms, there are three main causes that could be the explanation. Read on for an overview of each and the treatment recommended by vets:
1. Parasites e.g. Fleas, mites (mange) or lice
The most common cause of itchiness is parasites. The answer to this particular problem is simple – protection through regular preventative treatment. VetBox subscribers receive powerful veterinary treatments at the recommended dosing schedule, so you have nothing to worry about! Discover your pet's tailored plan here.
2. Infection Infected skin or ears are extremely itchy and in order to properly treat a skin or ear infection it will require a visit to your vet.
Treatment will require antibiotics in some form and these normally come in the form of shampoos, ointments, gels, injections or tablets. It’s also worth noting that a skin infection is often secondary to an underlying health problem, but your vet will check for this.
3. Allergies The unfortunate fact is that 1 in 5 pets have allergic skin disease.
Allergic skin disease in pets is surprisingly common and the main allergens are fleas, house dust mites, pollen and food types. If the itchiness is all year round it points towards food or house dust mites whereas a seasonal pattern may indicate a pollen allergy.Allergies can be treated in a number of ways:
Food allergy - change their food. Ideally pick an obscure protein and carbohydrate source such as venison and sweet potato (something your pet has never had before). Alternatively purchase a hypoallergenic food.
Steroids – these are still the main way vets manage allergic skin disease. They are very effective but have lots of side effects and aren’t good for your pet if used long term.
Antihistamines - these aren’t licensed for use in animals and there isn't any data to prove their effectiveness. However they are safe to use and some people find they help.
New drugs – drugs such as Atopica & Apoquel are very effective, like steroids without the side effects, but are expensive and often hard to get hold of.