Does your dog continuously chew and scratch at themselves? Then there’s a chance your dog has a skin issue. Skin problems are the most common presented complaints at the vet, accounting for a quarter of office visits in a typical day. So what are the signs and what can owners do to keep a healthy, itch free dog?
Dermatopathies (skin diseases) are quite common in cats. Studies indicate that between 6% and 15% of feline patients have at least one dermatopathy and many cats suffer from more than one. A recent study done by Cornell University Hospital for Animals showed that 22% had two skin diseases and 6% have three distinctive skin diseases.
The skin is the largest organ in a cat’s body, which comprises up to a quarter of its body weight. It also has many important functions, such as a protective barrier to the environment and regulates body temperature.
The skin is composed of:
The epidermis is the top layer that provides protection.
The dermis is the supportive layer underneath the epidermis, which provides nourishment to the top layer.
The subcutis is the innermost layer that contains protective and insulating muscles and fat.
The appendages include the claws, sebaceous glands that lubricate the skin and hair, and tiny muscles called arrector pili that can make hair stand on end.
Numerous conditions, from parasites to allergies, can cause skin diseases in cats. The geographic location is also linked to the prevalence of certain conditions. In upstate New York, for example, the most common causes of skin disease in cats seen by dermatology specialists are allergies to airborne particles, food, or flea and mosquito bites. On the other hand, in other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, studies show that abscesses are the most common cause of skin disease in feline patients.
A cat’s lifestyle, gender, or breed can also affect their risk of various skin conditions. Outdoor cats for example, have a greater chance of infestation by external parasites (such as fleas) and a higher risk of injury and abscesses from fighting with other cats or animals. Additionally, male cats are more likely than female cats to engage in aggressive behavior that may result in bite wound-induced abscesses. There are also certain breeds, like Himalayans, which are more prone to skin disease than other cat breeds.
Common (clinical) signs of skin disease in cats include:
- Excessive scratching, licking, or chewing of the fur
- Loss of fur
- Scabby, scaly, or flaky skin,
- Swellings or bumps on the skin
Treatment of skin disease in cats
The treatment of feline skin disease depends on its specific cause. Flea infestation is treated by using certain flea control products to eliminate fleas from both the cat and its environment. Food allergies are typically treated by a set diet that does not contain ingredients in which the cat is allergic to. Abscesses are treated by draining the infected site and putting the cat on antibiotics to fight any bacterial infections. Fungal disease is treated with anti-fungal medications. Often in cases, the cause of skin disease in cats may transfer to other cats (and in some cases, to people), so preventing transmission from animal or human is often an important element in a treatment plan.
Cats with a skin disease will often suffer from dermatitis (skin inflammation). The inflammation may result from the process that starts the disease (like food allergies or the cat itching and scratching in response to the irritation stemming from the disease). In both cases, inflammation leads to itchiness, and thus scratching expedites skin damage (triggering a possible, yet relentless cycle of inflammation and skin damage). Careful consultation with your vet can help you arrive at the best strategy to treat your cat’s skin disease.
Prognosis of skin disease in cats
Depending on severity or cause of feline skin disease, the predicted outcome for cats is often favorable. There are rare exceptions where skin disease in cats is an indicator of a more serious illness, however by visiting your vet and following the treatment plan closely with your feline, the result will lead to resolution of the problem.
As pet parents and dog lovers alike, we’re all guilty of sneaking our pups a bite or two of our food. Although most dog owners are aware that chocolate and onions are toxic to their dogs, there are a large number of items from herbs and spices to certain nuts and fruits that can be toxic. Before sharing even a bite of “people food” with your deserving dog, make certain it both accommodates the discerning palates of humans and doesn’t ignore the dietary limitations of dogs. That’s why with the summer festivities upon us, we bring you 10 recipes you and your furry friend can both enjoy at a summer barbecue!
- No Mayo Healthy Chicken Salad
- Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Mustard Dipping Sauce
- Grilled Sweet Potato with Lemon and Dill
- Salmon Cakes
- Pet-Friendly Risotto
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Peanut Butter Popsicles
- Frozen Yogurt Dipped Strawberries
- Apple Peanut Butter Rings
- 3-Ingredient Frozen Watermelon Snacks
For more ideas, check out these following cookbooks:
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Some of the most dramatic X-rays shown to clients are those that reveal the presence of large stones in their dog’s bladder. Until they see the X-rays, many of these folks are a little annoyed at their dog. This isn’t unreasonable, considering the dog often has accidents in the house or needs to go outside on an hourly basis. However, after seeing the X-rays, most owners are shocked that their dog hasn’t been acting even sicker.
What are the Signs of Bladder Stones in Dogs?
Bladder stones start out small but over time can grow in number and/or size. Dogs with bladder stones typically have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Urinary accidents
- Frequent attempts to urinate without producing much urine
- Straining to urinate
- Discolored urine
- Licking around the urinary opening
These clinical signs can be seen with other diseases affecting the urinary tract (infections or tumors, for example), so the diagnosis of bladder stones has to be confirmed with either an X-ray or ultrasound.
How are Bladder Stones Formed and Treated?
Bladder stones are a collection of minerals and other materials. Most bladder stones in dogs are made from struvite, calcium oxalate, urate, or cystine crystals. In many cases, the specific type of crystal involved can be seen in a sample of urine viewed under the microscope.
If struvite is the diagnosis, a veterinarian will treat the underlying cause (e.g., antibiotics for urinary tract infections) and may recommend a therapeutic diet that will dissolve the stones and crystals. Dogs prescribed antibiotics will typically use the drugs while consuming the therapeutic dog food, and possibly longer if needed. Surgery or other procedures like lithotripsy (breaking up the stones with ultrasonic shock waves) will be necessary to get the stones out of the bladder. The therapeutic diet for dissolving struvite stones, however, must be given under a veterinarian’s supervision. This is because they are formulated to make the dog produce more acidic urine than they would otherwise in order to break down the stone. If urinary acidification is taken too far, calcium oxalate stones can be the result.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent Bladder Stones in Dogs?
Once the stones are gone, diet plays an important role in preventing their return. Manufacturers have formulated special foods that deter the formation of struvite, calcium oxalate, urate, and cystine crystals. Encouraging water intake is also important since crystals are less likely to form in diluted urine. For this reason, many veterinarians recommend the canned versions of these foods over the dry.
Because diets designed to prevent bladder stones have to be fed over the long term, they must be nutritionally balanced. Your pet’s doctor is in the best position to recommend a nutritionally complete, well-balanced food that will help keep your pet healthy.