Small animal veterinarians estimate that they see more patients for skin problems than any other concern, making dermatology a large part of their practice.
Living with an itchy pet can be a very frustrating experience. Not only does the pet suffer, but so does the pet owner! Continued scratching and chewing by the pet can also lead to open sores and infections. The most common causes of itching are parasites and allergies, but other conditions, such as infection, Cushing’s Disease and skin cancers can also cause itching. During your appointment, we will ask the necessary questions to help us determine the likely cause of your pet’s problem, and thoroughly examine your pet for evidence of parasites, infections or other possible causes. Sometimes we will need to do diagnostic procedures such as skin scrapings, skin cytology, fungal cultures, bacterial cultures, biopsies or blood tests for hormone imbalances. We will work with you to discover the cause of the itching, and then determine the best way to control it.
Skin rashes can be caused by many things, such as bruising, scratching, or inflammation. During your appointment, we will thoroughly examine your pet’s skin and differentiate the cause of your pet’s problem, as well as the best solution.
Bumps and lumps
During play, brushing, or grooming, you may discover a lump or bump on your pet’s skin. The most common causes of bumps include infection, cysts and skin tumors, of which there are many types. If the lump does not seem irritated or painful, you can monitor it to see if it is growing. However, if it seems irritated or painful or if it is growing or spreading, then you should bring your pet in for an exam. We will determine what is causing the bump, and what we should do about it.
My dog is itching, I think he has fleas, how can I tell?
Fleas and ticks
Fleas are small dark brown-black insects. You can usually see the insects themselves, often near the base of the tail or on the belly; they ‘flee’ from light. You may also see “flea dirt”: black, granular, dirt-like material that is essentially digested blood that has been excreted by the flea.
Ticks are usually a little larger, and are slow-moving or even attached to the skin. If the tick is attached, grab it as close to the skin as possible, and with gentle steady tension, pull on it until it comes out. Ideally you should use tweezers or a special tick removal tool so that you can grab the tick by the head. You want to try not to squeeze its body because that may cause the tick to expel bacteria into your pet. Do not try to get the tick to back out by applying ointments, sprays or hot matches. Once again, this may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva into the wound. Once the tick is removed, clean the area and apply a little antibiotic ointment. Don’t forget to wash your hands too.
Healthy skin and a normal hair coat are the result of many internal and external factors. When dogs and cats have allergies, they don’t have the same respiratory signs that people do; instead, the allergies affect their skin. Pets tend to lick, chew, and scratch in response to allergies and can cause more damage to themselves than the allergies alone. Sometimes the reason pets itch has nothing to do with allergies, and stem from conditions such as Cushing’s disease.