Skin conditions in dogs and cats
The skin is the largest organ we know. 12% of the body weight of an adult dog (of 30 kg) is skin. Skin issues don’t just appear in humans. Your pet and other companion animals can suffer from skin problems too. The skin and coat are also the first things we see when looking at an animal. The coat is just as important.
When we look at skin issues, we could talk about a simple scratch or more serious problems. Depending on the cause, the issue could either be short term, or it could be a lifelong problem. Many skin problems are easily treated. Think of parasites, like fleas and ticks. Even though one flea bite could cause symptoms, it’s easy to control when you use the right products.
Bacterial skin conditions
Bacterial skin problems are also called pyoderma. These can occur if the skin balance has been disturbed. There are 3 kinds of pyoderma: surface (infection in the surface layers of the skin), superficial(infection in the epidermis or hair follicles), and deep pyoderma (infection from hair follicles into the subcutaneous tissue). The treatment depends on the type of infection and how large the infection is. Some treatments can involve washing your pet with a special shampoo, like the Etiderm shampoo for surface infections, or Pydoderm shampoo for deep infections. Some conditions require antibiotics or medication. Pyoderma is more frequent in dogs as opposed to cats.
Treating fungal infections can be tricky, but with the right medication and care, these problems can be managed. Just make sure to contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has a fungal infection so that he/she can make the proper diagnosis with the right treatment.
Yeast and fungus
Fungus can also cause skin conditions, like yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis. A Malassezia infection is always the consequence of another issue, like a disrupted skin balance. This means that this problem needs to be treated too, on top of washing your pet with a special shampoo against Malassezia.
If your pet’s skin is disrupted and there are no fleas, ticks, parasites, or fungus present, your pet might suffer from a (food) allergy.
Just like humans, pets can also suffer from allergies. These are mainly allergies related to food and can develop at any age. Animals often become allergic because of protein components in their food. These allergies can cause itching, which can develop into an infection due to scratching. In dogs, itchiness can be present throughout the whole body, or between the toes, ears, or loins. In cats, the head and neck are commonly affected, but this can also extend to the whole body. To determine whether your pet has a food allergy, you need to put your pet on a strict hypoallergenic diet for 9 weeks. If there has been determined that your pet does have a food allergy, this diet needs to continue throughout your pet’s life. There are also non-food related allergies. Think of allergies from pollen, dust mites, and certain grass. We don’t see the standard hay fever symptoms in animals as we do in humans. Instead, animals can suffer from itchiness.
Of course, there are many more skin conditions than the ones mentioned in this article. We always advise you to contact your vet if your pet is suffering from a skin issue. He or she can examine the problem and establish the right diagnosis with the proper treatment. Treatment can be different for each animal, and sometimes, it might take longer before the treatment catches on or reduces the problem. If your veterinarian can’t find the issue, you can also ask for a referral to a specialist.