Cats spend a lot of time grooming. But if your feline friend is over-grooming to the point of causing baldness or spending most of their day scratching and chewing their skin, an underlying skin problem could be to blame. Dermatological issues range from cat acne to full-blown infections, and many cats experience some type of skin problem during their life. If your cat has cat acne, itchy skin, or you have any other reason to suspect they might have skin issues, scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian is always the best course of action.
At All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, we understand the need for reputable online resources for pet parents. If you’re online looking for information about cat dermatology, we’re glad you found us! We decided to create this resource to share our answers to some of the most common questions about cat dermatology. If your cat doesn’t already have a veterinarian in Vallejo, CA, give us a call at (707) 940-8748. We’d love to have your feline friend as a patient!
What is cat dermatology?
Cat dermatology refers to the study of skin diseases in felines. When you seek veterinary care for your cat’s skin problems, we will diagnose the condition, determine its cause, and provide treatment to ease discomfort and improve your cat’s quality of life.
How do skin conditions impact the health and well-being of my cat?
Skin conditions can have a dramatic effect on your cat’s health and well-being and cause considerable discomfort. Most cats with skin issues experience itchiness, which leads to constant scratching, chewing, and tearing out their fur. Even in less severe cases, your cat may occasionally shake their head or scratch their ears due to discomfort.
In addition to decreasing your cat’s quality of life, skin problems often lead to secondary infections. These infections further reduce your cat’s quality of life, of course. They can also cause worsening symptoms and negatively impact your cat’s overall health.
What are some signs and symptoms of cat skin conditions?
While cats are usually good at hiding signs of illness, there are a few common symptoms of cat skin conditions which you should be aware of. Keep in mind that your cat’s symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause of their skin issues.
Common symptoms of cat skin conditions and cat dermatitis include:
- Excessive scratching, chewing, or licking
- Skin irritation
- Redness or swelling of the skin
- Fur loss
- Skin lesions
- Ear infections
- Lumps/bumps that resemble pimples, especially cat chin acne
Allergies, ringworm, external parasites, and even certain types of cat skin cancer can all cause dermatological issues in cats. If you notice any of the above symptoms or have any other reason to think your cat might be uncomfortable due to a skin issue, give us a call at (707) 940-8748 right away so we can get to the root of the problem.
Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing cat skin conditions?
Skin conditions present in different ways and have a multitude of potential causes. For this reason, you cannot tell what’s wrong with your cat’s skin simply by looking at it. Only veterinarians can accurately diagnose the problem and determine its underlying cause.
When you bring your cat to us at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, we’ll start by assessing your cat’s symptoms and looking closely at their medical history. We will also perform some basic diagnostic testing to determine the cause of their discomfort.
Also, most over-the-counter medications are not safe for cats. Attempting to use one to treat your cat’s itchy skin is likely to do more harm than good. Using medications made for humans (or even dogs) on cats is dangerous, and you should never do so without explicit instructions from your veterinarian.
How soon should I bring my cat to see a veterinarian for cat skin problems?
As with most issues, the sooner you bring your cat in for problems involving their skin, the better. At the very least, skin problems make cats uncomfortable. And in many cases, they cause absolute agony. Bringing your cat in at the first sign of trouble enables us to intervene quickly and provide much-needed relief to improve their quality of life.
In many instances, skin conditions aren’t the primary problem. Instead, they occur due to an underlying condition, like hyperthyroidism. In these cases, bringing your cat in for treatment as soon as you can means addressing the underlying issue quickly and ensuring the best possible prognosis for your furry friend.
How will a veterinarian diagnose cat skin conditions?
There is not necessarily a cookie-cutter approach to diagnosing skin issues in cats. Usually, we start by performing a visual examination and discussing the patient’s medical history. From there, we will do a skin and ear cytology. Ear cytologies involve taking samples from the skin in the ears, placing them on a slide, staining them, and looking at them under a microscope. This allows us to check for secondary infections.
We use skin cytologies, or scrapings, to check for mites, and the process is similar to that of ear cytology. There are also specific tests to check for ringworm, allergies, and certain types of cat skin cancer. Sometimes, even blood tests can help us diagnose skin issues in cats.
If we suspect allergies are at the root of your cat’s skin issues, we’ll start them on a food trial or therapeutic diet. We’ll walk you through this process to help you narrow down which ingredient could be causing your feline friend’s symptoms. If we think your cat has a flea allergy, we’ll prescribe an effective flea preventative and see if that solves the problem. We may refer you to a board-certified veterinary dermatologist for further testing and treatment for environmental allergies.
What treatment options are typically recommended for cat skin conditions?
Treatment options vary depending on the problem. For secondary infections, we may prescribe antimicrobials or a combination of systemic medications. We use oral and injectable drugs and topical antimicrobials you apply to the skin, like medicated wipes or mousse. We treat ringworm using antifungal medications.
Typically, we treat food allergies with therapeutic prescription food, and flea prevention is the best way to address flea allergies. We may also recommend allergy immunotherapy or omega fatty acid supplements to help your cat’s skin problems. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to skin problems, we will make recommendations based on your cat’s unique needs and health history.
Are cat skin conditions curable?
Some cat skin problems are curable, while others are not. With flea allergies, keeping your cat on a high-quality flea preventative year-round prevents the allergic reaction from happening. While it doesn’t necessarily cure the problem, it solves the underlying issue. Mites and fungal diseases like ringworm are typically curable. The process is often lengthy and challenging, but eliminating the problem is possible. We can cure some types of cat skin cancer, too.
Food and environmental allergens are not curable. They are, however, manageable with proper treatment. Cats with these allergies typically require life-long treatment to prevent allergic reactions.
Do you still have questions about feline dermatology? We can help! Call (707) 940-8748 to schedule an appointment.