What to do if your Cat has Itchy Skin

Written by Carolanne Ciccero RVN
August 10, 2018

Your cat can develop itchy skin for many different reasons and it is one of the most common reasons people visit their vet. There are many different causes of itchy skin and, for this reason, finding out the cause is sometimes the only way to treat the symptoms.  This can be a long drawn out process that is frustrating for the owner and for the cat!

Symptoms of itchy skin

  • Licking
  • Biting
  • Flaky skin/dandruff
  • Unsettled or uncomfortable
  • Biting and nibbling at feet
  • Fur loss
  • Red skin
  • Damaged skin

Common causes of itchy skin

  • Parasites
  • Bacterial infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Moist dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Food allergy
  • Environmental allergy

Triage of skin conditions

As noted above, the causes of itchy skin in cats can be wide ranging.

Contact us at PetGP if you are unsure or worried and our expert nurses will advise you on what to do next. Where the situation does not merit a trip to the vet we will give advice for managing the situation at home.

If the itchy skin is caused by an allergic reaction, many symptoms will settle down after a few days with no veterinary intervention if the cause of the allergy is removed.

Where the situation is more serious, we will advise that you contact your vet.

Diagnosis of skin conditions

Your vet will ask for a full history of the problem and then perform a clinical examination.  They may advise a blood test for analysis and then follow up with a more detailed work up.

Treatment of skin conditions

The treatment of the condition will depend on the diagnosis.

If you do need to contact your vet, it is likely that treatment will involve some or all of the following.

  • Antibiotics
  • Prescription medicated shampoo and washes
  • Antihistamine
  • Steroid
  • Anti-parasitic treatment
  • Change in diet
  • Allergy testing and Immunotherapy

It is worth noting that in a high number of these cases no actual cause is identified. If this occurs the diagnosis is usually Feline Atopic Dermatitis or Atopy – this is a predisposed genetic condition that causes generalised inflammation and itching of the skin and is usually associated with an environmental allergen.

Prevention of itchy skin

There are hundreds of different causes of itchy skin in cats which are costly and time consuming to diagnose and treat. Try to keep your pet on a good quality diet and use regular parasite protection.

If you’re concerned that your cat has itchy skin call us at PetGP and one of our highly qualified vet nurses will offer you expert advice on the issue.

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