Cat Contact Dermatitis
From Pet Health Learning Center
Cat Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can affect cats, dogs and people. In cats it is not as common as in people since they have fur that protects their skin. The condition is caused by contact with an irritant or allergen. The condition can be painful and will cause a lot of Cat Itching and discomfort in the infected cat. It is usually not too difficult to diagnose since the skin irritation can be seen.
Types of Contact Dermatitis
There are two types of contact dermatitis which are characterized by what triggered the condition. Allergic dermatitis is caused by exposure to allergens. Irritant dermatitis is caused by exposure to an irritant. The allergic type of contact dermatitis may take time to develop. After a cat is exposed to the allergen for the first time they may not have a reaction. It can take multiple exposures for the allergy to occur. Once this happens it may take a day or two for the actual symptoms to appear, as in the case with Cat Flea Allergy Dermatitis.
The irritant type of contact dermatitis develops after exposure to an irritant. An irritant can be a plant, like poison ivy, a poison or chemical or some other substance, such as with Cat Tylenol Poisoning. This is an immediate reaction that will occur with the first contact with the irritant. Irritant dermatitis is usually much more severe and painful than allergic dermatitis.
You normally will notice a rash if your cat has contact dermatitis. They will be scratching the area and you may see blisters, crusting or thick skin in the area of the dermatitis. It is very important that you seek help from the vet because dermatitis can easily lead to secondary bacterial infections. Your cat scratching the area can open the skin and allow bacteria to enter, causing an infection.
Once you take your cat to the vet, the vet will examine your cat in order to determine if the issue is contact dermatitis. He or she will start to ask you questions to help determine the probable cause of the condition. The goal is to figure out what your cat was exposed to. This will help the vet to determine if it is allergic or irritant dermatitis. The vet may take a skin sample to help prove this is a case of contact dermatitis. If the vet suspects allergic dermatitis then he or she may perform Cat Allergy Testing or patch testing to determine the allergy. Once your vet is sure that your cat has dermatitis and not another condition, he or she will start treatment immediately.
Treatment for contact dermatitis will involve two steps. The first step is getting your cat away from whatever caused the reaction. The second step is treating the dermatitis. The vet may give antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. He or she will likely give you an anti-inflammatory medication to give to your cat. You will probably need to take your cat back to the vet for a follow up so the vet can be sure the dermatitis has cleared up and to further discuss what caused the reaction so it does not happen again.
Watching your cat suffer from contact dermatitis can be heart breaking. It can cause your cat to look unhealthy and even lose fur. Getting immediate vet care and treatment should help you to clear up the condition. Following the vet's advice should help to prevent it in the future.