Treating Pet Eczema
Eczema in a pet is usually a warning sign of another, more serious problem. If your pet is itching seriously and showing signs of hair loss or skin irritation or infection, it's important to schedule a visit to your veterinarian.
What Is Pet Eczema?
Pet eczema is slightly different than the eczema that humans experience. Eczema in your pet is usually a sign of a more serious health condition such as an allergy, fungal infection or parasitic infection. The itching and scaly dryness are the skin's way of reacting to an infection, inflammation or allergies.
Where Will I Find Eczema on My Pet?
Eczema can cover large areas of your pet's body. Usually it is found at the base of the tail, neck and on the head, sometimes on the face or legs and is accompanied by some hair loss or bald patches. Your pet may chew excessively on the itchy area, which only furthers the inflammation and risk of infection. On dogs especially, constant chewing and licking can be signs of a serious condition called acral lick dermatitis, an emotional disorder of an obsessive or anxious nature. Your immediate goal should be to limit further licking and chewing in order to reduce the risk of an infection developing.
Signs of Eczema
The most common signs of pet eczema are itching, chewing, scaly or flaky patches of skin, redness or inflammation and hair loss. Your pet may lick or chew the area obsessively, and often require a plastic collar, called an Elizabethan collar, to prevent further damage. Your vet will prescribe an anti-inflammatory or steroidal cream to ease the itch and inflammation.
Common Causes of Pet Eczema
There are many possible causes of pet eczema, as it is a common symptom. Most often, eczema is a sign of a bacterial, fungal, yeast or parasitic infection. These can include fleas, mites, ticks or ringworm. A drug reaction may also be to blame, and your vet will consider this possibility as well. Ideally, the vet will rule out any serious infections by conducting a skin scraping, hair culture, visual exam, fecal exam and possibly the prescription of an antibiotic.
Other Causes of Pet Eczema
Some eczema may be caused by other conditions. Pet allergies are becoming more and more common, as the quality of pet food is lower than it used to be. Common ingredients such as wheat, soy and corn are also very common pet allergens, and not usually part of a typical animal's diet. If your vet suspects an allergy, they will prescribe a special food to give your pet for a month or two to see if this clears up the symptoms. Other conditions to be aware of are pet depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsions and other mood disorders. Remember that your pet have specific needs. Dogs need affection, plenty of exercise and even some rigorous training to feel good. Cats require different levels of attention, but still can experience anxiety under stress. Long absences, new homes or different people may trigger pet distress. Be sure to help your pet adjust slowly to new situations.
Photo Credit: Gunna