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Pet Skin Care: Stop the Scratching, Licking, and Biting

Like people, pets can also suffer from irritating and painful skin problems. While feeding your pet a nutritious diet and and keeping your pet clean will help prevent skin problems, sometimes the basic skin care regimen are just not enough to keep your cat or dog free of skin disorders. For your convenience, our veterinarian, Dr. Michael Good, has provided answers to your commonly asked questions regarding skin care. If you notice any symptoms of a skin problem in your pet, we encourage you to call our office to schedule a veterinary exam for a quick diagnosis and to begin treatment as soon as possible. 

Below, our Canton veterinarian answers your pet skin care questions in order to help you understand when your furry family members need more than the fundamental requirements.

What is pet skin care?

Sometimes referred to as veterinary dermatology, pet skin care, clinically refers to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin problems in pets. 

How can I tell if my pet has a skin problem?

The most common sign of a dermatological problem in pets are excessive scratching, biting, licking, or chewing of fur and skin and repeatedly shaking the head. Additional symptoms of skin problems include a foul odor coming from the skin or ears, hair loss, dandruff, lumps, or a change in the color or texture of your pet's skin or fur. 

What causes skin problems in pets?

Several factors cause skin problems in pets. For this reason, a dermatological issue sometimes requires a process of elimination in order to reach a proper diagnosis. All causes fall into six categories:

  • Allergies - sensitivity to medication, food, pollen, dust, bacteria, etc.
  • Environmental - sensitivity to the environment like grass, bacteria in water, or thistles
  • Nutritional - lack of proper nutrition
  • Parasitic - commonly fleas, ticks, and mites
  • Infectious - bacterial, fungal, and yeast
  • Neurogenic - simply neurological, a tic rather than a tick

How does a veterinarian diagnose a skin problem?

If your pet's skin problem covers its entire body, our veterinarian will begin by testing your pet for allergies. If the symptoms appear to be confined to a smaller area, Dr. Good will look for parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, or ringworm. If the problem seems to be connected to an underlying issue, blood tests might be necessary to determine the exact cause.

Are skin problems treatable?

Yes. Depending on the cause of your pet's dermatological problem, our veterinarian might prescribe topical treatments like creams, environmental changes, diet adjustments like hypoallergenic food, oral medications, or a special bath and a deep clean of your home to rid your pet of any parasites.

If your pet displays symptoms of a skin problem, schedule an appointment at Acres Mill Animal Hospital right away.