Common signs of dermatologic (skin) disease are itching, hair loss, ear infections, dander, and skin infections. Sometimes abnormalities noted on the skin are reflective of internal disease, and other conditions can be confined only to the skin. Amongst the most common conditions we see are the hypersensitivities (allergies), which can cause chronic itching of the face, paws, armpits, perianal region (the butt!), and the ears. In addition, animals with chronic allergies are susceptible to skin infections. A broad classification of allergies divides them into “atopy” (environmental) vs. “food allergies”. To make things more confusing, some individuals can have both conditions. Most dogs and cats with atopy have seasonal signs, while those with food allergies (if always on the same diet) will have signs all year long. Some individuals with severe atopy may also have year-round signs. Also, the presence of skin and ear infections will add another dimension to the treatment of these patients. The sign common to all of the allergy driven skin problems is itching, so when this sign is present, skin allergies will be high on the list of considerations. Of course there are other common causes for itching such as fleas, mange, and ear mites. These are normally easily diagnosed and treated.
Other less common causes of skin disease are hormonal disturbances (of which there are many). These typically cause a symmetrical hair loss on both sides of the body. Most times there is no itching associated with these diseases. Many times there are other signs that are seen with these conditions that are discussed when a history is taken. In these cases blood and urine testing will be part of the diagnostic work-up.
We also see a myriad of skin tumors, both benign and cancerous. Most times, skin tumors can be removed with a same-day procedure in our office.