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When your dog or cat continually engages in excessive scratching, licking, or chewing a particular area of his or her body, it is more than likely an indication that something is wrong and a visit to your veterinarian is in order. While these activities can be an indication of a more serious health problem, the diagnosis in most cases will likely be a problem with your pet’s skin.

Veterinary dermatology deals with those problems involving your pet’s skin. Frequently, the cause of skin problems in pets is minor and easily treatable. Skin problems are often an allergic reaction to something in your pet’s environment, a reaction to a bite from a flea or other insect, or a reaction to something in the pet’s diet.

However, while they may be minor and easily treatable, if left untreated these conditions can result in continuing discomfort for your pet, as well as possibly leading to more serious medical conditions.

In addition to diet and allergic reactions to environmental factors, your pet’s skin issues may be due to other things, such as immune system problems; bacterial, yeast, or fungal infections; or various internal disorders.

Periodic pet wellness visits, beginning when you first bring your new pet home, are a good way to help ensure that any health problems will be diagnosed early. The recommended twice-yearly visits also provide an opportunity for you to discuss proper care techniques for your pet and obtain answers to questions about your pet’s health needs from your veterinarian.