Skin conditions are among the most common health complaints suffered by dogs and cats. This article
looks at the common causes and symptoms of these conditions, and also looks at some of the
treatments that are available.
There are a very large number of factors that can cause skin complaints, so it can often be hard even for
experienced vets to identify what triggered a particular complaint. However, there are some very
common causes that are known to be responsible for a large percentage of cases, such as fleas, and
allergies caused by bacteria, food and environmental factors.
The problem is that deciding what treatment to use depends often on identifying the cause, which
involves checking for parasites and making efforts to find the source of any allergic reaction. Other than
allergies and fleas, the most common forms of skin conditions in dogs and cats are dermatitis, eczema
Typical symptoms that indicate a skin complaint include inflammation, itchiness and redness on areas
where the coat is thinnest, like on the belly or under the armpits. Another sign is hair loss, which can be
brought on by the cat or dog continually scratching to relieve the intense discomfort. If the condition
gets serious, you may see symptoms such as pustules or broken skin, which should be taken as a signal
that treatment is required as a matter of urgency.
There are various treatments recommended for skin problems. One approach is to alter your pet's diet,
as this often has an effect on the condition. Red meats and foods containing colouring and flavouring
agents can be a cause of allergic reactions, so a cleansing diet containing only white meat or fish and
boiled rice is sometimes recommended for a month or so, or continued for a longer period if the animal
is particularly susceptible to food-based allergies.
Herbal medicines have been found to be of particular use in controlling skin complaints, because of their
healing properties that tackle health problems in a holistic way. A combination of garlic and fenugreek
can be used to deal with minor skin infections, and is often given along with mixed vegetable tablets,
which help to relieve irritation and cool down hot, inflamed skin.
Evening primrose oil is another commonly used herbal treatment. It is used to deal with the hair loss
caused by scratching, as it maintains the skin while encouraging coat re-growth. There are also a number
of natural formulas that can be applied to dry, damaged and sore skin to help it to heal quickly and avoid
Herbal medicines on the whole have a high success rate for treating cats and dogs suffering from skin
conditions, and have the added benefit that they can be given along with any other conventional
medication and have no major side effects. If you are unsure about the best treatment for your pet, the
best solution is always to seek the advice of a trained veterinary surgeon, as they will be best placed to
identify the problem and suggest an effective remedy.