Skin problems for dogs and cats are the most common issues reported by owners. Some minor skin lesions such as scratches or abrasions may heal or resolve on their own. But the majority are significant factors which may prevent a pet from being comfortable, provide an “outside view” of a more serious internal problem, or even be life-threatening. If your pet has a skin problem, please call and make an appointment.
Both doctors at Pinecrest are experienced in diagnosing and treating skin problems. In addition clinical recognition based on observation and information provided by you, the pet owner, we utilize a number of methods to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan: skin scrapings, Wood’s Lamp (UV light), microscopic exam of skin samples, cultures, impression smears, biopsy and cytology lab samples submitted to expert skin pathologists, consultations with dermatologists and more. And, if we note your pet has a skin problem that may require further work-up or treatment which we cannot provide, we will say so and refer you to the appropriate specialist.
Here is a list of common skin conditions in dogs or cats. We see many of these cases each day. This certainly is not an exhaustive list, but is provided for your information.
Acute Moist Dermatitis (Hotspots)
Acute Moist Dermatitis (often called hotspot) – this is typically a single or multiple localized area on the skin that is inflamed, red, and often infected. It is the result of self-trauma to the skin by the pet from chewing, licking, biting, digging, rubbing or otherwise damaging the skin in response to tingling and itchiness. This can be triggered by:
- Injury to the skin from a scratch, puncture
- Allergies (from hypersensitivity to airborne allergens, insect bites, or food)
- Primary skin infection from yeast or bacteria or fungus, such as pyoderma (bacteria)
Generalized & Localized Skin Infections
Generalized or localized skin infections with or without seborrhea – some pets will have skin infections that are not causing local areas of inflammation like a hot spot; they could have superficial skin infection spread or scattered in various areas of the body; seborrhea is a problem which can be primary or secondary to infection/inflammation; it is an excess production of sebum, a skin oil.
Skin masses from cysts, benign tumors, or malignant cancer – these masses need to be evaluated and decisions made about whether they need to be removed, or closely watched.
Immune-Mediated Skin Disease – the pet’s immune system may become triggered to start damaging healthy skin; people are affected with lupus, dogs and cats can also have many different autoimmune or immune-mediated skin problems; often a biopsy or a therapeutic response to treatment are required to identify a specific disease.
Alopecia (Hair Loss)
Hair Loss (Alopecia) – hair loss can result from self-trauma as with a hot spot, but it may occur when there are hormonal imbalances, anxiety-related disorders such as psychogenic alopecia, or environmental trauma, such as burns, road trauma etc. With hormonal-based skin disease, often-times bloodwork is needed to confirm a diagnosis. It also may reflect a disease which is affecting more than just the skin, but in fact the entire body of your pet.
Skin Parasites in Pets
Treating Fleas & Ticks
Skin Parasites such as Fleas, Ticks – fleas can cause skin irritation even if a pet does not have a true allergy to the flea bite; fleas carry a number of diseases which can be problematic for pets AND for people. Ticks are a threat to your pet’s health as well as a potential threat to you and your family. We will help you with strategies to manage flea and tick problems. It is SO VERY important.
Treating Mange in Pets
Skin Parasites such as Mange (Demodex or Sarcoptic) – some mites are contagious to people and some are not; it is important to find these organisms when possible and treat in order for a pet to get relief from itching as well as potentially protect the pet owner
Fungal Disease in Pets
Superficial or Systemic Fungal Disease – pets can get ringworm – which is a fungus, not a worm parasite. Ringworm fungus is a common environmental contaminant and can be present in potting soil or the ground among other places. People and animals can spread this skin problem back and forth to each other.
Again, these are just some categories of diseases of the skin. We have more detailed information in our client education section as well as at the clinic. We will be glad to examine your pet and help you with whatever skin condition you have noted or that we find during recommended routine physicals.
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