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Ask the Doctor June 2016 Issue

Ask The Doctor - Advice for Chronic Dandruff in Cats

Advice for chronic dandruff
Q My husband and I have four cats of varying ages, all of which we adopted as kittens. We take them for their yearly wellness checkups and all is well within our “brood.” However, we have one concern: Our eight-year-old female cat, Lucy, has unusually thick, dense and short fur — and she is prone to bouts of dandruff throughout most of the year.

Is there something we can do to help her condition? She doesn’t seem itchy or uncomfortable, luckily. Any advice would be appreciated.
Norma D. Rocksen

A Dear Norma: According to the history and the clinical presentation, the skin lesions that your cat Lucy is showing are most likely the consequence of an underlying allergic or infectious disease. This dandruff is probably the consequence of an inflammation in the skin.

My recommendation would be to schedule a visit with your veterinarian to investigate the causes of this change in the haircoat and scaling. I’m sure that he/she will start by ruling out dermatophytosis (ringworm) and parasites (fleas), and then he/she will probably consider skin allergies.

You mentioned that Lucy is not itchy. Keep in mind that it is not always easy to know whether a cat is pruritic (itchy) or not. Dogs tend to scratch and lick themselves in a very public way. For that reason, the owners are fully aware of their itching and discomfort.

However, many cats tend to overgroom and scratch in privacy, and therefore the owners are not always aware of their itch. This could be the case with Lucy. In any case, these changes deserve a medical examination.
Lluis Ferrer, DVM, PhD, DECVD
Professor of Veterinary Dermatology
Cummings School of Veterinary
Medicine at Tufts University

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