Veterinary Dermatology Treats Common Skin Conditions & Pet Allergies
If your pet is frequently itching, scratching or biting his skin, he may be suffering from an allergy or skin condition. Veterinary dermatology treats common skin conditions and pet allergies, addressing both the underlying cause for your pet’s discomfort as well as providing immediate relief from painful symptoms. Our veterinarian, Dr. James Hornbuckle DVM, has significant experience treating pet allergies and skin conditions. Our advanced diagnostic tests make it easier for our veterinary dermatology team to precisely identify the skin condition affecting your pet and take immediate steps to relieve your pet’s pain.
Relieve Your Pet's Itching with a Veterinary Dermatology Appointment
Your dog or cat can suffer from the same seasonal allergies that affect humans. Allergic dermatitis is one of the most common conditions affecting pets. Pollen, mold, ragweed and dust mites may trigger pet allergies. Rather than experiencing watery eyes or congestion, however, pets suffer from itchy skin. Repeated biting and scratching creates irritated, moist skin that is susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. Prompt treatment for pet allergies is essential to relieving a pet’s painful itching symptoms and preventing secondary skin infections or more complex dermatological problems.
Food allergies to common pet food ingredients, including beef and chicken byproducts, diary, soy, wheat and corn, also cause pets to itch or scratch their skin. In addition to itchy skin, food allergies can trigger gastrointestinal upset and ear inflammation. Pets with a food allergy may bite or scratch at their skin, frequently bite or lick their paws, and even drag their rear across the ground in an attempt to scratch it. Since pets with food allergies are often allergic to more than one food ingredient, diagnosing a food allergy can be a complicated process.
Our veterinarian has substantial experience diagnosing and treating pet allergies, both those caused by food and by environmental allergens, such as pollen. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an allergy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hornbuckle as soon as possible. Diagnostic tests or an elimination diet may be necessary to precisely identify the cause for your pet’s allergies. Once the allergen triggers are identified, Dr. Hornbuckle works closely with pet owners to create a custom treatment plan. Depending on the trigger, this may include a dietary change, reduced exposure to a seasonal allergy, and/or medication to manage allergy symptoms.
In addition to treating pet allergies, our veterinary dermatology team also treats common skin conditions such as mange and ringworm. Ringworm is a common bacterial infection that can affect both cats and dogs. Pets with a ringworm infection have circular lesions on their limbs and head. The skin will be flaky and some pets may even appear to be “bald.” Ringworm can easily spread to other pets, so prompt treatment is critical. Mange is caused by tiny parasites called mites; symptoms of mange include intense scratching and biting of the skin.
If your pet is itching, scratching or biting his skin, schedule an appointment with our veterinary dermatology team today!
Flea Bite Dermatitis
Fleas aren't picky. They'll feed on any warm-blooded mammal, whether it's a pet or a person. Flea symptoms include round, red bumps on the skin, hot spots, scabs, and hair loss. In some cases, you may be able to see fleas on your pet's coat. Flea "dirt" is another telltale sign of an infestation. The dirt, which looks like black or brown flecks in the fur, are flea feces.
Dogs and cats are most commonly affected by flea bite dermatitis, but other animals can suffer from the itchy condition. If your dog or cat has fleas, your rabbit, ferret, hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig may have them too.
Flea collars, sprays, baths, and ointments can kill fleas. Before using a flea product on a young, old, sick, or small animal, check with your veterinarian first, as some of the products and treatments may be toxic for these pets. Prescription chews, pills, and topical treatments kill mature fleas and larvae and can be used year-round to prevent flea infestations.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes raised, red rings on the skin. Other signs and symptoms include a circular pattern of hair loss, dandruff, and scaly, thick or crusty skin. Ringworm can be transmitted between people and pets. If your pet has ringworm, wash your hands after touching your furry friend and be sure to wash his or her bedding, dishes, brushes, and combs frequently.
Creams, ointments, and medicated shampoo ease ringworm symptoms. These treatments may be combined with oral anti-fungal medication.
Allergic or Nutritional Dermatitis
Pets can suffer from allergies too. Red, blistered, thick skin along with hair loss can be a sign that your pet has allergic dermatitis. This is a condition that tends to make pets very uncomfortable. They may try to ease the itch by scratching, rubbing against furniture or carpeting, or biting and licking their skin.
Your pet may be allergic to pollen, ragweed, dust mites, mold, or other airborne allergens. They can also be allergic to the ingredients in their food. Allergies can develop at any time in your pet's life. Dermatitis can also occur if your pet eats poor quality food that doesn't meet all of his or her nutritional needs.
Treatment for dermatitis depends on the cause but may include immunotherapy, change in diet, antihistamines, medicated shampoo, soothing topical medication, corticosteroids to decrease itching and inflammation, or antibiotics or antifungal medication to treat infections that occur as a result of frequent scratching or licking.
Scabies, or sarcoptic mange, occurs when tiny microscopic mites make themselves at home in your pet's skin. Severe itching, rashes, red or flaky skin, and patchy hair loss can be signs of scabies. Although the infection frequently affects dogs, cats can get it too. Scabies is very contagious and can be spread through close contact with other animals. Wash your pet's bedding and clean his or her favorite restings spots frequently.
In some cases, sarcoptic mange can affect people. You may notice red bumps on your skin if your pet transmitted mites to you. Since the mites can't reproduce on human skin, the condition is much less serious in people. Humans can get another form of scabies that causes more severe symptoms. Human scabies cannot spread to animals.
Your pet's veterinarian can prescribe several treatments that kill the mites and ease your pet's uncomfortable symptoms, including topical medications, injections, shampoos, and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication.
Is your pet scratching much more than usual? A skin condition may be to blame. We can help relieve your pet's itch and determine the cause of your furry friend's rash.
Veterinary Practice: Treating Canine Scabies, 4/23/18
DVM360: Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats, 5/1/11
Veterinary Practice: Treating Canine Scabies, 4/23/18
Purina: Skin Problems and Skin Conditions in Dogs
Companion Animal Parasite Council: Pets and Parasites