Skin is the largest organ in your cat’s body, and nearly 25 percent of cats will suffer from some type of skin disease in their lifetime.
What is skin disease in cats?
Skin disease in cats is a broad term used to refer to a variety of abnormal conditions that can affect the epidermis or skin . These conditions range from allergies to cysts to abscesses and can have a major impact not only on your cat’s appearance, but on its general health and well-being as well. Skin disease in your cat is sure to cause discomfort to your pet, from irritation to severe pain. Here we provide an overview of some of the most common skin conditions.
Symptoms of skin disease in cats
Since skin diseases can include a wide range of conditions, symptoms can vary widely. However, there are many common symptoms. If you suspect that your cat may be suffering from a skin condition, watch for signs such as:
- Redness of the skin
- Ulcers or open wounds
- Skin loss
- Scaly, scaly, or damaged skin
- Excessive or licked rays
- Inflammation or lumps on the skin
- Dermatitis or inflammation of the skin
Causes of skin disease in cats
While there are numerous types of skin conditions, some occur more frequently in cats than others. Some of the most common skin diseases in cats include:
- Food allergies
- Allergies to environmental conditions
- Bacterial infection of hair follicles
- Flea allergies / flea infestations
- Acne abscesses
- Autoimmune disease
There are several factors that can influence whether a cat is more predisposed to developing a skin condition. Age can play a role in conditions like acne or cysts, while bacterial infections can occur from wounds or exposure to toxic compounds. Allergies can be inherited and certain breeds of cats will also be prone to different types of skin conditions.
Diagnosis of skin disease in cats
Diagnosing your cat’s skin condition will begin with a complete physical exam performed at your veterinarian’s office. To help your vet identify the precise type of skin disease, you should come prepared with a complete medical and physical history of your cat. If your cat has relatives with a known skin condition, or if another pet in your household has a skin condition, this will also be important information.
You’ll also want to take note of the approximate onset of the skin condition in your cat, as well as any progression or worsening of symptoms. Lastly, you can bring a list of ingredients for your cat’s food . If allergies are suspected, this could help your vet develop a suitable alternative diet.
During the exam, your vet may want to take skin scrapings or a biopsy of the affected area. These types of procedures will generally be very quick and relatively painless for your cat. Then the samples were examined under a microscope or sent to an outside laboratory for independent analysis . If allergies are suspected, your vet will also examine your cat’s ears and paws for large amounts of yeast or other bacteria. If an underlying internal condition is suspected, your vet may also order a complete blood panel.
Some forms of diagnosis may include monitoring your cat’s symptoms in relation to changes in diet or the environment. In these cases, your vet may alter your cat’s diet or certain elements of its living conditions to determine if there are any changes in symptoms. Given the wide variety of types and causes of skin conditions, the diagnosis may not be immediately available during your first visit to the vet.
Treatment of skin disease in cats
Treatment of skin disease in your cat will vary depending on the exact nature and type. In many cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotic rinses and baths or even administer them initially in your vet’s office. With many of these treatments, it will be important to prevent your cat from nestling until it has air dried, allowing the medications and treatments to have enough time to be effective.
For systemic conditions, oral antibiotics may also be appropriate. Your vet may also suggest a prescription diet for your cat. Many times your vet will have specialized types of foods available in his office or provide you with a website or local store where you can find specialty foods.
Foods that do not contain grains, corn, or certain types of proteins that are common allergens, such as chicken, are all options if your cat’s skin condition is caused by allergies. If your cat’s skin disease is caused by fleas or other biting insects, your vet may also prescribe a flea and tick treatment. These treatments will be applied at home for a regularly scheduled period of time and should be maintained throughout your cat’s life.
Recovery from skin disease in cats
Your cat’s recovery from a skin condition will depend on the type of condition and the underlying cause. In most cases, the skin condition can be treated with proper veterinary treatment and regular follow-up care. Some skin diseases cannot be cured, but can be managed effectively throughout your cat’s life. It will be important to follow your vet’s instructions to prevent flare-ups or recurrences.
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