Allergic skin disease - a feline problem

4th June 2016

Flea allergies

Flea Allergic dermatitis (FAD) is one of the most common causes of itchy skin and hair loss in cats. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we regularly see cats with this problem, and it can be irritating, uncomfortable and debilitating if left untreated. If you notice your cat licking, scratching or nibbling its skin then fleas may be the cause.

Cats with his problem are allergic to the flea saliva, and even one flea bite can set off a reaction which can last for days or weeks.

To prevent the allergy, it’s imperative that flea control is strict and effective. Always check with us at Bollington Veterinary Centreto make sure you’re using the most effective treatment.

Food allergies

Some cats have hypersensitivities or allergies to certain foods. These cats often have itchy skin and hair loss. The most common foods that trigger a problem are beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy, dairy products and wheat gluten. Our vets will be ale to check your pet for suspected food allergies, and work out the best diet to help.

Look for the signs

It’s vital to act fast, and our vets will always be asking you to watch out for the early signs of skin disease.

Signs to look out for include;

  • Flaky skin
  • Scaling or scurf
  • Redness
  • Bald patches
  • Excessive licking
  • Biting and nibbling

Treatments available

There are all sorts of ways to treat allergic skin disease in cats.

  • Remove the cause – if a flea allergy is present, use good flea control. If a food allergy is suspected, change the food and avoid the trigger.
  • Antihistamines – these are often used to reduce the levels of histamine (which cause the itch in the skin). They don’t work for all cats, and need to be given under careful guidance of one of our vets.
  • Steroids – at Bollington Veterinary Centre we do occasionally use these drugs to control very inflamed skin. We are always careful to make sure we don’t overprescribe this treatment, as there are sometimes side effects that need to be monitored.
  • Antibiotics – these are occasionally needed if the skin becomes broken and infected through scratching and licking
  • Cyclosporine – this is used to treat an immune condition called atopy. We would only normally use this if there is a confirmed diagnosis of the condition and it isn’t responding to other conventional treatments.
  • Shampoos – some allergic skin conditions result in the skin becoming infected with bacterial or fungal disease. In these cases, we’ll prescribe shampoos to help remove the infection and improve the skin.
  • Creams and gels – these may be offered to apply to areas of skin that have been damaged. They often contain antibiotics or topically active anti-inflammatory preparations.
  • Collars – we do sometimes need to use a protective collar on a cat to stop it from harming itself through licking or scratching

If you have noticed your cat starting to lick more frequently or perhaps developing some unusual bald or scabby patches, call us without delay and arrange an allergy appointment with our team before the summer really sets in.