Dermatitis & Skin Care

canine superficial pyoderma
canine superficial pyoderma

Have you read our article on the simple tricks you can do at home to help dogs and cats with itchy skin? These ideas help many pets with dermatitis feel more comfortable.

Unfortunately, home care isn’t always going to be enough. Thankfully there’s also a lot your vet can do to help these poor dogs & cats with itchy skin, including a new and exciting treatment.

Why Dogs & Cats Itch, Lick & Scratch

dog fur mite
Cheyletiella mites are an unusual cause

Before we talk about the treatments, we need a diagnosis. There are a lot of causes of itchy skin, foot licking and ear infections, including:

* common
(‘“mange” is an old name for a few of these)

Treatment Of Atopic Dermatitis

Let’s assume you’ve already ruled out fleas and mites by using one of the effective products for cats or dogs. Here’s what vets can do.

Prevention of Self-Trauma

dog licked wound
He could only get to half the wound!

Sometimes it seems like half our job is just keeping pets away from themselves so they don’t make it worse.

Once a dog or cat has an itchy spot, they are irresistibly attracted to it. If you don’t quickly break the itch-scratch-lick cycle the skin will get worse and worse, until it becomes infected. Ask your vet for methods suitable for your pet.

These will often be used together with the following skin treatments.

Ointments & Creams

Good for:

  • Preventing small areas of inflammation from spreading or getting infected
  • Dogs & cats very sensitive to side effects of systemic treatments
  • Spot-treatment to allow reduction in systemic doses

Not good for:

  • Areas with hair. Sparsely haired or clipped areas are best
  • Any area that can be licked. These often worsen if cream is used
  • Broken skin

Medicated Shampoos & Washes

Good for:

  • Every dog. All should benefit from a wash chosen carefully with your vet
  • Fungal infections (Malaseb, Sebazole), bacterial infections (Pyohex, Pyoderm S), soothing skin (Aloveen, Epi-Soothe)

Not good for:

  • Cats. Very few tolerate washing

Read more here about how often to bath your dog

Lotions & Sprays

Good for:

  • Topical treatment of haired areas
  • Treating larger areas (some are not absorbed systemically)
  • Dogs & cats very sensitive to side effects of systemic treatments

Not good for:

  • Treatment for longer than seven days
  • Broken skin

Prescription Skin Foods

Good for:

  • Dogs with food allergies
  • Additional skin support for all itchy dogs

Not good for:

  • Pets sensitive to diet change
  • Animals with strict dietary requirements

This page explains diets for food allergy and dermatitis.

Antihistamines

Good for:

  • Some cases of allergy and hypersensitivity
  • Dogs & cats very sensitive to side effects of systemic cortisone
  • Treatment on a budget

Not good for:

  • Patients needing stronger or more reliable treatments

Click here for antihistamine doses for dogs

Cortisone (prednisolone, dexamethasone etc)

Good for:

  • Widespread and severe dermatitis
  • Sudden flare-ups
  • Treatment on a budget

Not good for:

  • Continuous use (intermittent use or every second day better)
  • Dogs & cats very sensitive to side effects of systemic cortisone
  • Animals at risk of diabetes, cushings disease, obesity, pancreatitis
  • Animals with infections

Cyclosporin (Atopica™)

Good for:

Not good for:

  • Treatment on a budget

Oclacitinib (Apoquel™)

Good for:

Not good for:

  • Treatment on a budget
  • Cats (not suitable)

Apoquel is a new product released in 2016. Read about the pros and cons of Apoquel here.

Allergy Testing & Referral

Good for:

  • Owners keen to try to identify a cause
  • A chance of a complete cure of allergies

Not good for:

  • Treatment on a budget

Adelaide vet skin specialists can be found on this page.