Like people, cats can suffer from bothersome skin allergies that make them feel itchy and irritated. If you notice your cat scratching excessively, visiting the vet's a good idea. Today, our Gaithersburg vets discuss the reasons behind these cat allergies and offer advice on how to improve your cat's comfort.
Signs your cat may have skin allergies
Usually, when you stroke your cat, their skin should feel soft and smooth. But if your cat has a skin allergy or another skin problem, you might see some of these signs:
- Oily skin
- Skin that is dry, flaky, or scaly
- Bald patches, hair loss
- Red patches
- Spots or pimples
- Skin odor
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat, it's time to take them to your vet to have the cause of their unhealthy skin diagnosed by a professional.
Causes of skin allergies in cats
Skin issues in cats are frequent, and we often notice uncomfortable problems arise from things like parasites (fleas, lice, mites), hormone imbalances, or bacterial infections rather than allergies. When cats do have skin allergies, these can stem from various triggers, with common ones being flea bites, certain cat food components, or environmental factors like dust, pollen, or mold.
Diagnosing skin allergies in cats
Initially, your veterinarian will search for different reasons behind your pet's skin problem, such as fungal infections or parasites. After excluding other possibilities, the vet will start identifying the specific allergen that is impacting your cat's well-being.
Many times, cats can develop allergies from flea bites. Your veterinarian will carefully check your cat's fur and skin for any signs of fleas, which are usually noticeable without any special tools. If fleas aren't causing your cat's allergies, the vet will ask about your cat's diet to gather more information.
Figuring out dietary allergies in cats can be a bit tricky. It involves a step-by-step process where certain foods are removed and then reintroduced. Your vet will give your cat a special diet that doesn't include the common allergens for cats. You'll need to avoid giving any treats your cat usually enjoys. During this time, it's crucial to follow your vet's instructions exactly.
After a few weeks on the new diet, if your cat's skin clears up, your vet might suggest going back to the old diet to see if the symptoms return. If they do come back, it means your cat is sensitive or allergic to something in their original food.
Other Environmental Factors
If the elimination diet doesn't improve your cat's skin, it could mean another environmental factor is causing the issue. You might need to explore your cat's lifestyle further to find out.
Treating cat skin allergies
If your cat has skin allergies caused by fleas or other parasites, the vet will use suitable medicines, like shampoos or treatments applied to the skin.
If your cat's skin allergy is due to food sensitivity, the vet will either give your cat allergen-free food or suggest dietary changes. It's important to keep providing your cat with a balanced diet while managing their allergies.
Some foods specially made for cats with allergies have specific proteins and carbs that are less likely to trigger allergies. These foods might also contain ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and nutrients like biotin, niacin, and pantothenic acids to keep the skin healthy and guard against irritants.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.