Caring for Your Pet’s Skin

Your pet’s skin is a vital organ, just like the heart, lungs, kidneys, or liver. The skin’s main function is to keep your pet’s bones, muscles, and internal organs safe from outside elements. Just like humans, pets can suffer from painful and irritating skin conditions, usually falling into one of three categories: allergies, infections, and parasites.

New England Animal Hospital tests for and treats many common dermatological conditions. We rely on a variety of diagnostic tests to assist in the diagnosis of your pet’s condition, including skin scrapings, fungal and bacterial cultures, cytology, biopsy, and allergy testing. While some can be done in-house, we also partner with reliable outside laboratories and referral centers when needed.

Your pet can’t tell you when he or she is uncomfortable and will often mask signs associated with skin irritations. Careful observation and routine physical exams are helpful in identifying symptoms such as:

  • Dark, black, thickened, or wrinkled skin
  • Dry, flaky, or otherwise irritated skin
  • Hair loss, bald patches, thin undercoat
  • Hot spots (area of skin that is moist, red, tender, and thickened)
  • Rashes
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Round, scaly patches on the face and paws
  • Scabs (especially in groin or armpit area)
  • Scratching, licking, or chewing at skin (especially the face, feet, and ears)
  • Swellings, lumps, or skin discoloration

Learning your pet has an allergic or dermatological condition can be overwhelming. After a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will discuss the various treatment options, which may include injectable, oral, or topical medications, as well as medicated shampoos. Many conditions can be managed, but not necessarily resolved. Depending on the severity of your pet’s skin condition, more frequent veterinary visits may be recommended.