Has your dog ever scratched and bit at their skin so much that
it bled? If so, we bet your pet was miserable. Skin allergies are common problems among
dogs and cats. We often forget that sometimes, just as with
humans, our pets can suffer from allergies. But instead of sniffing and
wheezing, dogs and cats often demonstrate their allergies in
the form of skin problems. Here's how to help your pet deal
with dog or cat dermatitis.
Numerous outside problems can cause your pet to have an
allergic reaction including fleas, food allergies, and even the things that
cause you to sneeze and sniffle like pollen or dust mites. With
pet foods, common ingredients can sometimes cause skin
allergies including corn, dairy products, soy, beef, and
preservatives or other chemical additives. When pets react to
the presence of fleas, they are
typically allergic to the flea’s saliva.
Signs of Allergies
With skin allergies, pets do a lot of scratching, biting, and
licking of parts of their bodies. If fleas are the cause, you
might see the presence of flea
dirt, the tiny blood spots left behind by the little
parasites. Sometimes your pet's hair will fall out or will be
stained dark from blood or appear greasy from constant rubbing.
The skin may also be inflamed and red, sometimes with
discharge. Skin inside the ears may be inflamed. Scabs may be
present from constant scratching and bleeding. Some breeds,
Westies, are more prone to particular types of skin
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your dog or cat shows these signs, your veterinarian can
perform several tests to determine the cause. Depending on the
signs, testing can include skin scrapings to see if the cause
is a type of parasite, skin swabs to view under the microscope
for parasites, a fecal exam to see if the cause is an internal parasite, intradermal allergy
skin tests, and blood analysis, among others.
For some pets, just the elimination of the offending allergen
can solve the problem. For some, a change in food as or the
addition of fatty acid supplements may be what's needed.
Some pets may require medical treatment such as
anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, antibiotics (like Clavamox), or allergy
shots. If fleas are the cause, removal of the fleas with medication will
solve the problem. For fungal infections, medicated shampoo
solves the problem. And, finally, topical medications can help
treat the irritation.
Keep in mind that often the skin allergy can be a chronic
problem that needs to be continually treated. But if you
recognize the signs early enough before your pet really suffers
from inflammation and, with the help of your veterinarian,
establish the cause of your pet’s allergies, you can keep them
happy and comfortable with routine maintenance.
Dandruff and Flaky Skin in Dogs and Cats
Pet dander, or dandruff, occurs naturally as the body sheds
skin cells and replaces them with new ones. And like humans,
dogs and cats can develop a buildup of dandruff and flaking
when their skin is
dry or lacking in nutrients.
Dandruff and flaky skin in pets can be caused by a variety of
reasons, but it most commonly occurs because of diet and grooming issues. Pets residing in
dry or cold climates may also develop flaky skin due to the
Pet dandruff can also be a symptom of a larger medical issue
that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian. Deficiencies
and diseases associated with flaky skin may cause your pet
discomfort and even signify poor health.
The most common causes of pet dandruff are associated with
grooming, climate, and nutrition. Most of these issues can
easily be reversed, but flaky skin can also be linked to more
serious medical concerns, such as hormonal
diseases, allergies, or
parasites like fleas and mites. Chronic flaky skin or dandruff
that is accompanied by other severe symptoms should be
examined by a veterinarian.
Most pet parents will recognize flaky skin as white flecks on
their pet's fur, much like human dandruff. Other symptoms
that may show up when a pet has excessive dandruff include
dry, scaly skin, irritation, infection, and cracks or sores
in the skin. These symptoms will often be accompanied by your
pet scratching, biting, and licking their coat.
Depending on the underlying cause, flaky skin can be treated
in a number of ways. Dandruff will likely go away with a more
balanced grooming schedule, switching shampoos, and adjusting
bathing frequency. If nutritional deficiencies are the cause
of pet dandruff, then a simple change in diet can relieve and
eliminate symptoms quickly.
More on Pet Skin Health
Hot Spots on Cats and Dogs
Pruritus in Pets
Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's
This information is for informational purposes only and
is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or
diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to
your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed
veterinarian for accuracy.