Skin conditions can be difficult to diagnose

Think back to when you had poison ivy, a case of hives or an itchy mosquito bite. You probably couldn’t sleep well and had trouble concentrating because of the itching and discomfort. Unpleasant, right?

When your pet has a skin problem, it’s even worse because your pet cannot communicate its discomfort other than scratching, itching, rubbing or being irritable. And, your pet cannot ask for help. Your dog or cat is stuck feeling miserable until you take action.

Skin problems in dogs and cats require diligent detective work by the veterinarian and patience and understanding by the pet owner.

Because it takes a new, healthy skin cell about four weeks to mature and be present near the skin surface even the most simple skin diseases may take weeks to resolve.

Because diverse skin problems can often look similar, an accurate diagnosis is critical to effective treatment.

What can be done about my pet’s skin problem?

To treat skin problems we must first identify what is causing the problem. Our doctors will start with examining your pet’s skin and overall condition. After the initial examination lab tests may be recommended to diagnose or to rule out causes for these skin problems. Some lab tests may be performed in our office such as skin scrapes to check for mange mites or fungal screening tests. Other diagnostic tests may be sent to outside laboratories that have specialized equipment. There are over 160 different skin disorders just in dogs so finding the cause of your pet’s skin problems may require multiple tests. Our goal is to identify the cause of your pet’s agonizing skin problem and determine if we can treat or control the problem. Sometimes skin problems can be very complex and may require your pet be referred to a specialist in the field of dermatology.


Does your dog or cat have skin problems? Is he or she continually scratching, biting or licking him or herself….and you don’t know why?
Well, take comfort in knowing, you are not alone…

Let’s see if we can make some sense of this complicated and aggravating situation and try to answer the question ‘Why does my pet itch-scratch-bite-and lick?”
The skin, your pet’s largest organ, acts as a barrier against harmful invasions from the environment. As an organ of elimination, symptoms of disease often show up in the skin as the body rids itself of toxins. Skin problems are probably the most common ailments seen in dogs. Usually they are not a disease in themselves, but a symptom of other underlying problems. The most common reason for skin problems in both dogs and cats is allergies. Foods, pollens, dust or medications may cause allergic reactions. These reactions result in scratching, itching, biting and licking, therefore starting the vicious cycle that a dog or cat with skin problems endures.

Causes of skin and coat problems in Dogs & Cats

Toxins are routinely eliminated through the skin, and skin and coat problems can often indicate a number of underlying concerns including toxin overload, anxiety, thyroid problems and a compromised immune system.
Other causes of skin and coat problems include:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Atopy (environmental allergy)
  • Bacterial diseases
  • Parasitic skin diseases
  • Fungal skin diseases (such as ringworm)
  • Food Allergies
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Nutritional skin diseases
  • Glandular skin diseases
  • Auto-immune skin diseases
  • Drug reactions
  • Seborrhea and acne
  • Skin cancer