Nothing is worse than when our fur kids aren’t feeling well and we aren’t quite sure what’s wrong with them. When they experience illness, there are certain physical symptoms that may alert us to what’s wrong. However, there are some ailments and side effects that are more discreet, which we might miss upon first glance. Or, there are times when cats and dogs try to hide symptoms from their owners.
Even though our fur children may be able to communicate with us, they still can’t tell us exactly where it hurts. Animals can face some of the same illnesses, conditions, and allergies that humans do, but are limited in their ability to communicate their feelings. This is why it’s important that fur parents take extra precautions when it comes to the care of their beloved fur kid.
Although some side effects may be temporary and go away on their own, other conditions may be permanent or lead to more serious health issues if not given the proper attention and care.
It’s important to keep an eye out for changes in outward appearance and/or behavior in pets to ensure they are kept safe. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common skin conditions in dogs and cats.
Skin Conditions in Cats
Cats can be elusive animals and have been known to hide their symptoms quite well, especially when they’re not feeling well. Skin conditions are a different story since they can’t be hidden as easily. Even if your cat isn’t the cuddly type, make sure you hold him every once in a while to at least check their skin for any abnormalities. Below are a few cat skin conditions to make note of:
Maybe your fur kid likes to be extra frisky playing outdoors, running after squirrels, or climbing up trees. It may be common to see scratches or other minor injuries on his paws or face after being outside. However, open sores or lesions are still something you’ll want to keep an eye on to make sure they heal on their own.
Open sores can easily become infected when they fail to scab over – leaving them more susceptible to bacteria and disease. In fact, persistent sores may be the symptom of something larger. If you’ve noticed sores on your furry friend that haven’t gone away in a few days, make an appointment with your veterinarian to check for allergies or infectious disease.
Hair loss or alopecia in fur parents can be caused by a variety of things. One of the most typical factors being stress or anxiety. Similarly, hair loss in your fur baby can be indicative of stress, allergies, or other types of illness or infection in the body.
Of course, you’ll notice your cat shedding (how can you ignore the never-ending hair clumps hidden all over your house), but if the hair is falling out in bigger clumps or more than usual, it’s something to be wary of. Your pet may not seem to be in pain, but this side effect could be related to a much larger diagnosis, such as pancreatic tumors or adrenal disease.
It may be strange to think about cats having allergies when usually they are the ones to cause allergies in others, but it occurs more frequently than you might think. There are three major types of allergies they can suffer from, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and flea allergies.
A cat with food allergies will most likely experience obvious reactions, such as vomiting or diarrhea, after eating the offending food. Food allergies for felines often occur when they have a hypersensitive reaction to protein. Do you suspect allergies in your fur child? Mention the symptoms on your next visit to your veterinarian. Seemingly unrelated actions could all stem from one common allergy.
A change in appearance of your cat’s coat can indicate the presence of a more serious skin condition. The appearance maybe greasy, flaky, or dull. In some instances, you may notice your cat has discontinued grooming, which leaves the fur looking mangy, dry, or matted.
A cat’s diet could be the culprit for this skin condition. For example, a lack of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids could dull your cat’s fur. Fish sources are a common source of omega-3s and help moderate inflammation. Plants provide omega-6 fatty acids for pets and are important to maintain the skin’s cell membrane. Lack of either of these in the diet can result in a negative change in your pet’s outward appearance.
They sound as invasive as they are (yuck!) The tiny parasites feed off the oil and wax inside your pet’s ear. If that’s not bad enough, this causes inflammation, which can develop into a more serious ear or skin infection.
Symptoms that indicate your fur child might have ear mites include excessive shaking or head shaking and/or a dark substance coming from the ears accompanied by an unpleasant odor. Check out your cat’s ears from time to time and make sure to schedule routine visits to the veterinarian for nose-to-tail checkups.
Believe it or not, cats can get pimples too. While they may not experience the somewhat embarrassing outbreaks their fur parents have, feline acne is a common skin condition that spreads around your fur baby’s chin. However, much like humans, feline acne is caused by stress, an adverse reaction to medication, or poor grooming. Most cats are self-groomers, so you don’t normally have to worry about it. But if you see your fur kid isn’t taking care of his fur as diligently as before, acne may sprout up unexpectedly.
Dog Skin Conditions
Everyone’s had to deal with a scratching dog at one point or another, but many chalk it up to fleas or “just being a dog”. Although that may very well be the case, there are several other types of skin conditions your furry friend may be suffering from, which can cause this incessant itching.
“Allergic dermatitis” is just a fancy word for skin allergies. Your dog may have an allergic reaction to grooming or bathing products, a change in food or treats, or environmental factors like insects or pollen.
If your fur kid is constantly scratching and is starting to show signs of redness or rashes, he may need to be treated for allergies.
This bacterial infection is visible on the surface of the skin and has the appearance of pimple-looking bumps, which are filled with pus. The condition is most often found in puppies and show up where there is little to no fur.
Although not immediately serious, impetigo can prove uncomfortable for your pet and should be treated right away. In most cases, the bumps can be treated with a topical solution before the bacteria spreads or becomes a bigger problem.
Ringworm is one of the more prevalent skin conditions dogs can get. Contrary to it’s name, the condition itself is not an actual worm, but a fungus. It is noticeable by its ring shapes that show up on the head, paws, ears, or legs.
In addition to hair loss, your dog may experience inflammation or scaly patches where the fungus lives. You will want to seek treatment for ringworm right away, as it can easily spread not only to dogs or other fur friends, but also to humans.
Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-fungal treatment to take care of it, but you’ll want to limit your fur kid’s interaction with others until your pup has healed.
The clinical term for hot spots is “acute moist dermatitis”, which refer to sections of the skin that are red and inflamed. Most often, they’re found on your fur child’s head or chest and feels hot to the touch.
Hot spots can result from allergies, infections, or excessive chewing or licking of the skin. It’s important to keep the section as clean as possible, but if this condition continues, your best bet is to pay your vet a quick visit.
Other Signs and Symptoms of Skin Conditions in Pets
There are several other symptoms (other than those listed above) that may alert you that your fur kid is suffering from a skin condition or other health issue.
Does your fur kid drag his back legs on the carpet? Does your cat or dog constantly lick raw patches onto his paws? Does your fur child sneeze, scratch, or itch a lot? Although the behavior may seem harmless, if it happens regularly, it’s worth having checked out. It’s also a good idea to keep a look out for:
● Hair loss
● Strong odor
● Increased oiliness
There may need to be an adjustment to your fur kid’s diet, shampoo, or other products you use daily. Allergies may develop over time or may change with the seasons. Knowing your fur baby’s habits is what will help most to control issues and prevent conditions and diseases from developing further.
How to Remedy Skin Conditions in Pets
The best thing to do if you notice a skin abnormality, rash, or unusual bumps is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. A doctor can properly analyze the symptoms associated you’re your fur kid’s physical condition and eliminate any chance of the skin condition being an indicator of a larger problem. They’ll already have a history of your pet’s health and can help put your mind at ease.
If you cannot get to the veterinary clinic right away or you want to try an at-home remedy for more short-term skin conditions such as a mild allergic reaction to certain plants or products, then consider the following:
• Vitamin E for dry skin. When your pup experiences dry, flaky skin, you can pamper your pet with a massage. Apply vitamin E directly into the skin or add it to part of your fur kid’s bath. It will help soothe the skin and make it healthier.
• Applying certain foods as a topical solution can help with your pet’s skin conditions as well. Chamomile tea, for example, can be used as a natural disinfectant for minor skin irritations on your fur baby. Chill the tea first and spray onto your pet’s skin for a soothing effect.
• Oatmeal also helps ease the skin, especially from a rash or allergies that make your fur child extra itchy. Oatmeal is often used in human bath products for its mellow nature that is gentle on the skin and helps with irritation. Why shouldn’t we use it for our fur kids, too?
What Kind of Pet Care Routine Should You Follow?
Ensure your pet is receiving a balanced diet. Make sure your fur baby receives his daily dose of nutrients every day. Read the labels of all the food and snacks you feed your pet to check for fillers, dyes, or other potentially harmful ingredients. If you have more than one pet in your household, they may be allergic or have adverse experiences to different things. It’s important to keep food and drink separate for each fur kid.
Take your pet for regular checkups. Just like humans should visit the dentist twice a year or go to the doctor for yearly physicals, regular checkups for your fur baby is just as important. Even if there are no major changes to report, it’s a good idea to be preventative rather than waiting and having to be reactive when thing go wrong. Be proactive for the health of your pet.
Know your fur baby like the back of your hand. Before even getting a pet, research the breed you want and what kind of conditions their breeds might be more susceptible to. For example, a puppy with lots of skin folds may collect debris, dirt, and oils within the skin that can lead to skin conditions. The more you know in advance, the better you can care for your pet in the future. It can help you know what to look out for as your pet grows.