Skin & Coat - what to look out for

Skin and coat issues

The skin is the body’s largest organ - which explains why a lot can go wrong with it!

The skin has many functions, including - providing a protective barrier, regulating water loss and body temperature, and acting as a sensory organ for external input such as touch, temperature, and pain.

The condition of your pet's skin and coat is a good indicator of their overall health. Your pet's skin should be smooth and soft with no lumps, areas of redness or scale. Their coat should be smooth, non-greasy, and matt free and have no obvious areas of fur loss.

The most common causes of skin and coat disease in our pets are allergies. Allergic skin disease can be caused by food, parasites (such as fleas), and/or environmental allergens (such as pollens and grasses).

The signs to look out for include:

  1. Excessive fur loss and bald patches (most often due to itching or over-grooming)
  2. Recurrent ear infections (head flicking, scratching at the ears, a head tilt, and/or odour and discharge from the ears)
  3. Red or raw skin
  4. Strong odours or foul-smelling skin
  5. Dry or scaly skin (dandruff)
  6. Visible parasites (such as fleas or flea dirt)

The condition of your pet’s coat can also tell us about how well they are feeling. Cats in particular will stop grooming and quickly develop an unkempt coat if they are feeling any degree of discomfort. This may indicate they are suffering from issues such as a sore mouth, arthritis, or dehydration.

Unfortunately, a lot of the skin issues we see in our pets are chronic conditions that will get worse if left untreated.  It’s important to get your pet assessed by a veterinarian when you notice any of the signs mentioned above. Your veterinarian will help you figure out the underlying cause of these skin issues and can work with you to come up with a management plan to help you prevent future flare-ups.

Dr Christina Booker BVSc


Franklin Vets

Franklin Vets - excellence in veterinary care for dairy, farming, lifestyle, equine and household pets. BESTPRACTICE ACCREDITED NZ.