DR Katie on the hotspot: animal skin issues

Dr Katie from Fox Valley Animal Hospital inspecting one of the cats.

Dr Katie from Fox Valley Animal Hospital inspecting one of the cats.

Vet nurse Hayley gets the inside scoop about animal skin issues from our resident skin expert, Vet Katie Syms. 


Monday morning consults were in full swing, the phone hadn’t stopped and once again we were seeing case after case of animal skin issues.


Dr Katie is our resident vet with a real passion for skin. And word has spread around the Fox Valley Animal Hospital community of her knowledge and expertise in this area.


As we said goodbye to our last appointment and put the jug on for a well earned cuppa, I thought it would be an idea time to grab a 5 minute skin chat.


As a Veterinary nurse, there is always something new to learn or gain from our vets. They study many educational courses and participate in numerous hours of personal development to maintain up to date knowledge and skills.


Dr Katie has answered a few questions and just touched on a very in-depth and complicated condition – SKIN DISEASE. 


Q -What type of common animal skin issues do you encounter and what are the causes?


A –Most patients are bought into see me as the primary complaint of ‘itchiness’ the problem can normally be broken down into 4 main causes:


  • External parasites – such as fleas, mites or lice will aggravate and cause your pet to scratch and bite himself.
  • Contact allergies – where your pet has come into physical contact with something in his environment such as a plant, chemical or even shampoo.
  • Food allergies – where your pet can’t tolerate a certain protein or food which causes skin irritations and flare ups.
  • Atopy – is where your pet presents with a skin condition that is on going. Atopy is long and complicated to treat and has a genetic base.


Q-What is the best way to address my itchy dog?


A-    Initially it’s best to book in a consult with me so I can obtain an extensive history. We will need to talk about previous illness, where your pet lives, his diet, medications and general health. I may run blood tests too rule out certain hormonal disease or autoimmune issues that can have a similar presentation.


We may perform some in-house cytology such as skin scrapes and looking at your pet’s skin and hair under a microscope. Diagnosis and treatment is customised to each pet’s need, so we ensure your pet has an extended consult time so nothing is missed.


Q- So what treatments are available for animal skin issues?


A-For external parasites we can use a combination of topical flea spot ons such as ADVANTIX for dogs and REVOLUTION for cats and once a month oral COMFORTIS. That’s why we stock each of these products at Fox Valley Animal Hospital. The pet’s environment will also need treating. For certain mites we may need to use other medications available.


With contact allergies prevent the contact if the cause is known. I like to use ceramides in shampoos and conditions plus ESSENTAIL 6’s OILS to help produce a barrier on the skin between your pet and the environment.


Food allergies need an elimination diet or food trial for 6-8 weeks. ROYAL CANIN have manufactured a Hypoallergenic diet which is great for these cases.


Atopy is a very complicated and in depth topic to touch on. Usually I find it’s a combination of exclusion, medications and environmental changes that will help to elevate the symptoms.


To wrap this very in-depth and sometimes tricky skin disease conversation up Dr Katie explained-


“The skin is the largest organ covering our pet’s body. If it becomes damaged due to trauma, external parasites, contact or Atopy it can ultimately affect the overall wellbeing of your pet. Don’t ignore skin problems as the risk of causing deeper damage to the epidermal layers. And this will increase the recovery time two-fold”


So there you have it a little insight to a big topic! Animal skin issues may not be the most fun things to encounter, but with the right advice and treatment, is definitely something you can treat effectively.


If your pet has skin issues or is itchy, give us a call on (02) 9489 4805 to book an appointment to see Dr Katie.  She’ll be happy to tailor an individual treatment plan for your pets needs.


About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.