I have a cat that licks too much on her belly and paw causing redness and scabbing. What is the cause and treatment?
Original Question: Lenny my cat has been licking her paws and belly until the skin is very red and becomes scabby. There are also scabs from scratching behind her ears and under her chin. - Kate
Thanks for submitting your question. Sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this but I think I can help.
The most important thing here is to stop guessing. We need to start determining what’s going on. The first thing I would recommend is that you visit your veterinarian and have a skin scraping performed. This is a quick inexpensive test where they scrape the top layer of the affected skin and look at it under a microscope. This will determine whether yeast is present. This way we do away with all the guesswork.
If yeast is present then you can start shampooing daily with an antifungal shampoo. Leave the shampoo on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off. You’ll have to do this for a number of weeks because yeast is very stubborn. If this doesn’t work, and that should be confirmed by a repeat skin scraping at the end of the treatment, then you can look into giving antifungal oral medication. This type of medication can be a bit hard on the liver so you’ll want to do some blood testing before starting and also during the treatment.
If the skin scraping reveals bacteria as well, I would recommend that you use an antibiotic concurrently. The shampoo may help resolve this as well. If the bacteria is still present on a repeat skin scraping then I would recommend you perform a culture and sensitivity on her skin sample. This is a test that will grow the bacteria that are present and tell you what type of antibiotic kills it. I’m seeing more and more cases of skin infections caused by resistant bacteria.
If the testing and treatment comes back negative and unsuccessful, then a consideration of allergies can be made. Treatment of allergies is more complicated and often makes use of different treatments, supplements, shampoos, diets and other strategies used in combination. I would recommend that you look at our resources about allergies such as our article, “Dealing With Your Pet’s Allergies” that discuss this topic in depth from diagnosis to treatment. I recommend you perform the tests, confirm the diagnosis, and implement the correct treatment. Otherwise this problem will persist.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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