Skin problems are unfortunately quite common up in the Northern Territory. On this page you will find some information about skin diseases, their diagnosis and a number of common problems.
Does my pet have a skin problem?
In general it’s quite obvious when an animal has a skin problem. You could for instance observe hair loss, redness, little lumps or itchiness. Itchiness generally presents as scratching or licking. However, ecto parasites can also cause these symptoms so it is important to involve preventative measures to control these parasites.
My animal has a skin problem
So if your animal has a skin problem, bring him or her in for a skin check-up. The vet will probably ask you some questions related to the skin problem, so before coming in observe your animal well. If you can tell your vet how the problem has been developing and how your animal has been behaving you can help the vet to diagnose the problem correctly. Obviously the vet will check your animal’s skin and fur. Although, in some cases this is sufficient for an accurate diagnosis, in other cases it may not be. If more diagnostics are required, your vet will in most cases suggest one of the following procedures, for which you may have to bring your animal in for a day-stay, on another day:
- Skin scrapings - with a small blade the skin will be scraped to check for mites that are living deep in the skin.
- Skin cytology - Impression smears will be made. After staining glass slides that have been pressed onto an animal’s skin a vet will microscopically look for bacteria and other organisms on the skin that could be causing problems.
- Fungal assay (ringworm test) – A couple of hairs will be plucked, put into a container with a growth medium (food) for fungus (ringworm is a fungus) to diagnose a fungal infection.
Examples of skin problems Flea infestation / allergy
Flea problems are quite common and hard to get rid of. To prevent fleas it is important to use adequate flea prevention. We have a wide range of products to suit your pet that will prevent and treat flea infestations. An animal with a flea problem will be very itchy. If there is a flea problem already it could be necessary to get rid of fleas in your animal’s surroundings too. Your vet will be able to tell you more.
Atopy is an allergy to certain components (for instance spores, pollen, mold) in the environment. In general atopy causes a lot of itchiness, presenting in scratching especially the of the face and belly and licking the feet. In lots of cases atopy is worst in the wet season. Unfortunately the problem can’t be cured, but with the help of medication it can be managed, to reduce the itchiness to acceptable levels.
Mites (demodex and sarcoptes)
These are mites that live in the skin and can cause baldness and, especially in the case of sarcoptes mites, itchiness. To diagnose them your vet will have to do skin scrapings.
A food allergy can start off in dogs that have been on the same food all their life. It causes a severe itchiness. In general the diagnosis requires an animal being on a special (either home-made or commercial) diet for at least 6 weeks.