An animal’s skin is his or her largest organ. Besides being a physical barrier that protects the internal organs of the body, the skin helps to regulate body temperature, makes vitamin D, provides the first line of defense for the immune system, and allows your pet to experience the outside world of touch and sensation, known as ‘tactility’. Simply put, skin is amazing!
Indeed, the skin plays many important roles in the health and well-being of your pet, which is why skin conditions should be taken seriously. Pet skin problems, including irritation and inflammation, are one of the most common reasons pets visit the veterinarian and, while many are easier to treat and manage, others can be more difficult to diagnose and require treatment plans that are more involved.
Skin Problems We Commonly See
- Allergies – Environmental, flea, and food allergies tend to manifest as skin problems in pets. An allergic pet may lick his or her paws excessively, paw at the face or ears, or have itchy, swollen skin. Your veterinarian can help you determine the source of your pet’s allergies and develop a plan for treatment.
- Parasites – Fleas and skin mites are common causes of itchy skin. If a pet is allergic to flea saliva, even one bite can set off a cascade of allergy symptoms. Flea prevention is crucial in the fight against skin problems caused by fleas, lice, and other external parasites.
- Dryness – Colorado’s arid climate leads to dry skin in both humans and pets. Dry skin in pets manifests as a dull coat, flaking, itching, and/or cracked skin. Regular grooming with a soothing, medicated shampoo and conditioner, along with a high quality Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, can help your pet combat dry skin. Be sure talk with your veterinarian before beginning any supplementation or new grooming regimen to make sure you’re choosing the right remedies for your pet’s needs. Supplement products vary in potency and too much bathing can delete the essential oil layer of the skin and make dryness worse.
- Atopy – Atopic dermatitis occurs when the immune system has weakened, allowing for the breakdown of the normal physical barriers in the skin. Atopy can lead to excessive licking and scratching in a particular area, putting your pet at risk for developing sores or hot spots. If left untreated, hot spots can lead to secondary skin infections in your pet, which will require antibiotics in order to heal.
How You Can Help
Good home care is essential to the health of your pet’s skin. There are a variety of ways to boost your pet’s immune system and help to prevent him or her from encountering the environmental factors that can trigger skin issues:
- Adhere to your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness visits and any recommended lab work.
- Regardless of whether or not your pet has ever dealt with fleas, it’s important to keep him or her on flea prevention, as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Feed your pet a high quality diet, and discuss fatty acid supplementation with your veterinarian.
- Groom your pet regularly to decrease accumulated allergens in the fur.
- Keep the allergen level in your home as low as possible with regular vacuuming and cleaning.
- Ask your veterinarian about the use of pet-safe antihistamines.
Solving Pet Skin Problems
Pet skin problems can be incredibly frustrating for both you and your pet, and not all causes are easy to diagnose and treat. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center if you think your pet has a skin problem. Our veterinarian will take the time needed to determine the source of your pet’s skin condition and work with you to come up with a treatment plan that will help your pet’s skin be its very best.