Many pets scratch or bite at their skin and it is often seen as normal behavior. However, persistent scratching, chewing, licking, and rubbings could be the first signs of a skin problem. If this behavior continues it can lead to more serious health problems.
Early detection of a skin problem begins with daily grooming. When combing or brushing the hair, look for dry flaky skin, abnormal hair loss, or sores on the skin. As part of the grooming procedure, check the pet’s ears for dirt, debris, or bites and the pet’s hair and eyes for excess watering or matting. It may be helpful to keep a written record of your pet’s health. Include any possible problems observed while grooming, as well as changes in your pet’s behavior, environment, and food when there is a possible problem. This information will be valuable when your veterinarian is diagnosing your pet.
Often it takes a good detective and a lot of patience to identify the culprit of a pet’s skin ailment. Possible causes to consider include:
- Parasites – includes mites, fleas, ticks, mange, or lice
- Infections – may be bacterial or fungal
- Allergies – inhaled, direct contact, or food
- Secondary skin disease – an underlying disease that causes the skin problem. Some examples include hypothyroidism, liver dysfunction, or autoimmune disease.
It is important to get professional help as soon as possible for any skin problem. Not only because they leave the animal in quite a bit of discomfort, but they also may cause even more serious problems if left untreated.
There are a number of treatments available for skin problems. Your veterinarian will help you determine which solution is needed depending on the type and severity of the problem.