Red, Inflamed & Itchy Skin: Causes of Pet Dermatitis

Does your pet bite, scratch and lick themselves until their skin gets dry, red, raw and inflamed? When we don’t know the cause of the itchiness, it can be an extremely frustrating experience for pet owners and pets alike!

There are multiple causes for itchy and scratchy skin. Below, a Richmond Hill veterinarian outlines some of the most common causes of itchy skin:


  1. Environmental Allergy (Atopic): These are allergies that are triggered by environmental factors, and tend to display in “seasons.” For example, your pet may experience severe itchiness primarily in the summer or fall seasons, triggered by grass or pollen. To diagnose, allergy tests can be performed to define exactly what causes the allergic reactions, from which a customized treatment plan can be developed.


  1. Nutritional Dermatitis (Food Allergy): This form of skin disorder is non-seasonal, so the itchiness seems to occur all year round, triggered by a product or ingredient in the food your pet consumes. To test and treat this form of allergy, your pet would need to be placed on a strict hypoallergenic diet, as prescribed by your Richmond Hill veterinarian, restricted from eating any other form of food and monitored for improvements to the skin and degree of itchiness.


  1. Contact Dermatitis: when your pet experiences red, itchy bumps or inflamed skin after contact with a chemical, detergent, paint or irritant, your pet may be experiencing what’s known as a “contact dermatitis.” Diagnosing this form of dermatitis often involves tracking patterns of outbreak to determine if there is a correlation between contact with a particular substance and reaction. Elimination of the cause of irritation is a main component of treatment.


  1. Parasitic Infestation: Unfortunately, sometimes our pets contract parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and scabies. These bugs invade the skin, causing irritation and itchiness. Your Richmond Hill veterinarian recommends a suitable skin test to check for parasites, followed by effective medication to eliminate these unwanted guests from your pet’s body.


  1. Infectious Dermatitis: Skin infection can also be caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast. Depending on the form of infection, different symptoms arise on the skin.  Various skin tests can be used to determine which form of infection is affecting your pet. Antibiotics, often in combination with topical antibacterial medication, can be used to tackle the infection, and relieve the itchiness.


  1. Illness:  A secondary reaction of many serious illnesses, such as liver disease, cancer, or various neurogenic problems is the development of skin disorders.  In these cases, the illness needs to be addressed and treated, for your pet’s skin to improve.


  1. Auto-immune: When a pet’s immune system is reacting negatively to its own normal tissue, it is unfortunately experiencing a type of auto-immune disease. This form of dermatitis requires very specific tests to diagnosis, and treatment often involves immune suppressant medication in order to control the situation.


Regardless of the form of dermatitis your pet is experiencing, know that there is no need for them to suffer! Seek the counsel of your Richmond   Hill veterinarian, and together a diagnosis and treatment plan can be established for your pet!

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