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By Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, Diplomate A.C.V.D.
Board-certified specialist through the American College of Veterinary Dermatology

Small animal veterinarians estimate that they see more patients for skin problems than any other concern, making dermatology a large part of their practice. Healthy skin and a normal hair coat are the result of many internal and external factors. When dogs and cats have allergies, they don't have the same respiratory signs that people do; instead, the allergies affect their skin. The damage that can be done to the skin by the allergies and the pet's response to what's happening with their skin. Pets tend to lick, chew, and scratch in response to allergies and can cause more damage to themselves than the allergies alone. Sometimes the reason pets itch have nothing to do with allergies, and stem from conditions such as Cushing's disease. Learn more about skin conditions and what can be done for your pet in our Dermatology series.

This information DOES NOT replace professional veterinary care. It is solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before any medical decisions are implemented. If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility IMMEDIATELY.

Cat and dog breed-related skin diseases are listed.
Atopic animals will usually rub, lick, chew, bite or scratch at their feet, muzzle, ears, armpits or groin, causing hair loss, and reddening and thickening of the skin. In some cases several skin problems can "add" together to cause an animal to itch where just the allergy alone would not be enough to cause itching.
Dog owners often complain about their dog’s odor. It is important to recognize that dog odors have many sources, both natural and un-natural.
Dust mites feed off of skin scales and dander shed by humans and animals. mites love bedding, carpeting, and anywhere they can find a hiding place with the likelihood of skin dander being present. Dust mites also require a relatively high humidity in the home to truly thrive.
Coping with an itchy pet can be an extremely frustrating experience for you, the pet owner, and can truly test the limits of the human-animal bond. Persistent scratching and grooming by a cat can also result in more skin damage and even cause open wounds.
Coping with an itchy pet can be an extremely frustrating experience for you, the pet owner, and can truly test the limits of the human-animal bond. The common causes fall into two groups: external parasites and allergies.
Otitis externa is an inflammation or infection of the external ear canal. Bacteria, yeast, ear mites, and allergies can all cause it. Addressing this problem involves four steps.
Seborrhea is a clinical syndrome that has several different forms. It can be seen as excessive flaking and extremely dry skin, odiferous greasy scale and yellow brown adherent oil deposits, or a combination of the two.
Sunscreen can and should be used on cats and dogs. Animals that have light-colored noses and thin, very short, or missing fur are most in need of protective sunscreen.

About the author(s)
Carol S. Foil DVM, MS, Diplomate A.C.V.D. is a board-certified specialist through the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. She is a professor of dermatology at Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine. A member of Veterinary Information Network (VIN), veterinarians across the country consult Dr. Foil on dermatology cases.

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