If your cat is constantly scratching or chewing at his skin, it can be quite concerning. Having an itch you just can’t scratch is miserable, even for humans. Luckily, there are treatments for pruritus (itchy skin) that we can help you with. East Valley Animal Hospital, located in Gilbert Arizona, is dedicated to providing excellent, high-quality health care for your pet and relief from what ails them, including itchy skin. There are many possible causes for your cat’s discomfort, and treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis.
Fleas and Ticks
Although Arizona doesn’t have the highest rate of fleas and ticks, there certain species that have adapted to the desert environment that flourish here. In order to diagnose the reason for itchy skin, ruling out fleas and ticks is imperative. You may not be able to see fleas on your cat with your naked eye, but there are a few telltale signs to be aware of. These include:
- Black grains on their skin that turn red when wet. These are flea feces and a sure sign of infestation.
- Tiny, white grains which are flea eggs.
- Allergic dermatitis.
- Scabs and hot spots.
- Pale gums.
- Lethargy and energy loss
These are pretty good signs that fleas and ticks are infesting your beloved cat. However, before you use flea powder on your cat, contact us first. Many over-the-counter treatments can actually be extremely harmful to cats. We can give you an effective treatment for the fleas and the resulting allergic dermatitis to decrease the skin irritation and itchiness. If your cat is found to have fleas or ticks, every other household pet will have to be treated for fleas as well to be sure they are eradicated.
If you’ve ruled out fleas and ticks, the next step is to look for mites and other skin parasites. Mites can make your cat miserable. If your cat goes outside, chances are he picked them up from another cat and needs treatment. Skin scrapings determine if your cat has mites. If you have other pets, once again, we may need to test and treat them for mites as well.
Sometimes a cat with itchy skin has food intolerances or allergies. In this case, we try to rule out allergies by putting your cat on a hypoallergenic diet with a novel protein such as venison or duck and a carbohydrate your cat hasn’t eaten, such as pea. While your cat is on the diet, they cannot have any other food. This process can take eight to ten weeks. If we see an improvement in your cat’s skin, we know that he has a food allergy. For this issue, we recommend prescription diets because there is more control over the ingredients than in the pet food you buy at a store.
If you observe your cat excessively grooming or biting at its skin or coat, please contact us right away. East Valley Animal Hospital is here to provide you with great veterinarian services and give your beloved pet the treatment they deserve.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/29/2017) M.L. Duong (Flickr)