Your guide to skin conditions in cats and dogs


Ask any vet, and they’ll tell you that skin conditions are one of the main reasons their patients are visiting, this is particularly the case for dogs.

Some skin conditions are worse during different seasons, so once you understand what may be affecting you pet, you can take preventative measures or be well equipped to deal with any sudden flare ups.

Causes of skin conditions in cats and dogs

Potential causes of skin problems in cats and dogs, include:

  • Fleas (particularly Flea Allergy Dermatitis)
  • Ringworm (a contagious fungal infection that can be passed onto humans and other animals that is characterised by round areas with a red ring around the edges)
  • Parasites (such as ear mites and lice)
  • Seasonal allergies, including various pollen, dust and mould
  • Food allergies
  • Contact Dermatitis following exposure to certain chemicals or fabrics
  • Bacterial infections
  • Stress (which can cause pets to chew and lick at their skin)
  • Hormonal
  • Nutritional imbalances

Some dogs also suffer from atopy: an allergic, very itchy skin condition which is in part a genetic abnormality and also a problem with the skin’s natural defence.

What are the symptoms of skin conditions you should be looking for?

It may be visible changes to your pet’s coat/skin condition or to their behaviour:-

  • Excessive hair loss
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Redness
  • Bald patches
  • Scratching (particularly for dogs)
  • Licking and chewing their skin (particularly for cats)
  • Lumps and bumps under the skin
  • A dull-looking coat


Dermatitis and skin problems in dogs can also be caused by other problems, such as hormonal deficiencies that are a feature of other medical problems, or nutritional imbalances; however, these are less common.

Does your pet need to see a vet?

Because you can potentially tell a lot about your pet’s overall health from the condition of their skin, it’s advisable to take them to see the vet if you notice signs of a skin problem.

Skin conditions may lead to secondary bacterial infections that need additional treatment, particularly as a result of continuously scratching and chewing affected areas.

It can be challenging to diagnose exactly what is behind skin problems as there can be a wide range of potential causes (as listed above) but your vet will work with you and advise what you need to do to help.

Treatment for skin problems

Your pet’s treatment will depend on the underlying cause and can take a range of forms.

For Flea Allergy Dermatitis, it will be crucial to treat your pet for fleas so that they don’t suffer any further reaction.

If other parasites are the culprit (such as mites or lice), they will be tackled as an immediate priority.

There are a range of prescription medicines available to combat the various allergies.

Ringworm and other fungal problems will be treated with anti-fungal medication. If there are other pets in the home, they may also need to be treated (as it is a contagious condition and can spread to other animals and even humans).

If stress is to blame, you’ll need to work out what is causing your pet’s anxiety and take steps to address the situation.

Your Vet will advise which course of treatment is suitable for your pet.

Preventing skin problems in cats and dogs

Prevention can be crucial for preventing future skin problems, particularly with regards to Flea Allergy Dermatitis. For pets who are sensitive to flea saliva, a year round flea treatment is crucial to prevent this. A single flea is all that is needed to trigger Flea Allergy Dermatitis in pets that are hypersensitive to it.

How can you help to relieve skin conditions?

When talking to your Vet, ask for advice on how to:-

  1. Soothe the initial irritation
  2. Remove the allergens from the skin
  3. Help to repair and improve the skin barrier

Some of these measures could include:

  • Skin lotions and treatments prescribed by your vet
  • A healthy diet or supplements to prevent coat and skin problems
  • Avoiding direct sunlight for light coloured and hairless breeds so that sunburn does not become an issue
  • Regular grooming to prevent matting of the fur

Keep an eye out for changes throughout the year and seek early advice from your Vet to avoid any skin issues getting too serious.

Here are just some of our popular skin care products you may wish to try or discuss with your Vet.

Visit our Animed Direct website for our full range of skin/allergy products and to search our prescriptions A-Z.

YuMEGA Itchy Dog 500ml on Animed Direct

YuMEGA Itchy Dog 500ml

YuMEGA Itchy Dog is now  ...

Our Price: £18.80

Eukanuba Veterinary Diets Dermatosis FP Adult Dog with Fish & Potato Dry 5kg on Animed Direct

Eukanuba Veterinary Diets Dermatosis FP Adult Dog With Fish & Potato Dry 5kg

Eukanuba Veterinary Diets Dermatosis FP Adult Dog with Fish & Potato Dry is formulated...

Our Price: £24.43

Allermyl Shampoo 200ml on Animed Direct

Allermyl Shampoo 200ml

Allermyl is a soothing, medicated shampoo for dogs and cats, which contributes to the maintenance...

Our Price: £11.97

Allerderm Spot on For Dogs - 6x4ml Pipettes (Dogs over 10kg) on Animed Direct

Allerderm Spot On For Dogs - 6x4ml Pipettes (Dogs Over 10kg)

Allerderm Spot-on is an easy-to-use topical formulation which helps to replace the skin's natural...

Our Price: £19.29

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Skin Care Adult Dry (SK 23) 8kg on Animed Direct

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Skin Care Adult Dry (SK 23) 8kg

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Skin Care Adult Dry (SK23) is a complete dietetic feed ...

Our Price: £46.52

Mikki Ball Pin Brush for Sensitive Skin - Medium Coats on Animed Direct

Mikki Ball Pin Brush For Sensitive Skin - Medium Coats

The Mikki Ball Pin Brush for Sensitive Skin - Medium Coats is a great product to have in y...

Our Price: £7.03

FURminator Soft Slicker Brush Small on Animed Direct

FURminator Soft Slicker Brush Small

The FURminator Soft Slicker Brush is the ideal brush to remove surface mats and tangles fr...

Our Price: £11.28

Ancol Wooden Handled Slicker Brush Medium on Animed Direct

Ancol Wooden Handled Slicker Brush Medium

Size: Medium L: 13cm x W: 11.5cm x D: 3cm...

Our Price: £3.99