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Common Feline Skin Conditions: Protect Your Feline

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Protect Your Cat

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from a skin problem, talk to your veterinarian. Describe the specific symptoms and provide relevant information: when did you first notice your cat’s condition? Is your cat itchy or grooming more than usual? Do any other pets have lesions?  Or you? Have you used any medicine or flea meds?

Unexplained bumps, nodules, open sores, hair loss and rashes require prompt veterinary care. They may be symptoms of a more serious health condition. Your veterinarian can best determine the course of care.

Cats can suffer from a variety of different skin disorders, including feline acne, allergic dermatitis, mites and ringworm. If your cat is frequently itching, scratching, licking his skin beyond normal grooming, or suffering unexplained hair loss, a skin condition may be the cause.

The first step to treating a skin condition is diagnosis of the specific problem. Many skin conditions share similar symptoms, such as hair loss, scabs, or flaky skin. Depending on your cat’s symptoms, a veterinarian may begin by ruling out the most common skin problems.

Allergic Dermatitis

Allergies are very common in cats. While people show their allergies by sneezing, nasal congestion, and red eyes; cats show their allergies in their skin.  There are four types of skin problems cats can have as a result of allergies: hair loss without much skin changes; miliary dermatitis - which causes small pinpoint scabs, especially on the neck and over the hips and tail base;  eosinophilic granulomas - which are raised, red, hairless lesions, commonly on the lips, but can be lower on the jaw or neck, or even on the rear legs; severe itchiness at the face or neck. The most common allergies are to fleas, pollen, food ingredients, molds, and house dust mites. Unfortunately, any of the allergens can cause any of the patterns.

Fleas

Even if your cat is an indoor pet, another pet in the household may have exposed your cat to fleas, or you may have brought them home!  If your cat is allergic to fleas, a single flea bite can trigger a reaction that lasts for days to weeks. Good flea control is essential to preventing allergic dermatitis.

Feline Acne

Feline acne is one of the most common feline skin conditions. That’s right; even cats can suffer from a bad case of pimples! But cats show their acne only on the chin. You may see just blackheads, or the cat may have red, raised bumps on their chin.  For most cats, feline acne will simply clear up by itself. However, if your cat’s acne persists, a medicated shampoo, oral antibiotics or a prescription ointment will help.

Mites

There are many kinds of skin mites that can cause skin problems that may look just like allergies.  Mites such as Demodex, Cheyletiella, and Notoedres can usually be diagnosed by a skin scraping, and inspection under a microscope.  This possibility certainly needs to be investigated before treatment of allergy is started.  

Not all skin problems are confined to a cat’s fur. Ear mites (Otodectes) infect the ear, but  can extend out into the skin.  Symptoms of ear mites include constant itching, scratching at the ear, and shaking the head.  Without proper treatment, the constant scratching and itching may lead to a secondary skin infection. With prompt treatment, the proper medicine can clear up the primary problem before secondary infections occur.

Your cat's regular doctor can help with most skin problems.  But if there are difficult or persistent problems, a veterinary dermatologist is trained to diagnose and treat all skin disorders.  Your veterinarian can help you with a referral. Prompt treatment will help prevent secondary infections or complications and keep your feline healthy.

Source:
American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD)

Bernstein, Joseph A. DVM. "Manifestations of Feline Allergy." Annual Dermatology Continuing Education Conference.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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