Dog ate chocolate?

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Is this fleas?

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Age: 8-11 years
Dear Dr. Marie,

This is my 2nd time asking a question. Thank you for your great and assuring answer the first time round (13 Dec).

This time, my cat has skin problems which started in late December 2011.


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He started having bald spots with scabs/wounds on his shoulder. This later spread to the front of his neck (with scabs too). However, he did NOT show any signs of excessive grooming, irritability or itchiness.

I brought him to the vet on 7 Jan. The Senior Veterinarian got 3 skin tests done for him – 1) skin scrape, 2) cellotape and 3)can’t recall the 3rd one. The vet said that the tests did not show anything wrong except that bacteria was present. He could not even give me any answer to what could be the possible cause!

My cat was prescribed antibiotics - Cephalexine 300mg.

After that, the bald spots continued to spread. It spread to his hands and thighs. The bald spot on his neck also became much bigger. He lost about 5-8% of his body fur.

I read your article Your Pet has Fleas
and learnt that 45% of itching is due to flea bite allergy. On 19 Jan 2012, I went to administer Frontline Plus for all my 3 cats.

As of today, the “spreading” of bald spots has stopped and the fur is slowly growing back very slowly. However, I am still worried for my cat as I am not sure if the problem has been solved.

I have an appointment scheduled on 9 February for a renowned vet in Singapore who specialises in Dermatology. I am hesitant to bring my cat there due to the high costs involved.

What is your advice? Should I monitor my cat’s situation? If there are no new bald spots and scabs for the next 2 weeks, does it mean that it was indeed flea allergy and his problem has been correctly addressed?

Thank you for reading my long question. Have a good day!

Best regards,

Jessica Lu
Singapore (Asia)

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question Jessica! It is interesting that Derek Boy's skin problems seemed to go away after administering flea medication to all of the cats. It is incredible how many cats can have flea related issues even though we can't see fleas on them. Some cats are so allergic that one flea bite can set them off with scabs all over.

Personally, I think that if the problem is getting better you may not have to see the specialist. (It's never wrong to see a specialist, but why spend all that money if the problem is resolving?)

If this was because of fleas, then you will need to re-treat all of the cats in the house for at least 3 months in a row. If there were fleas then this means that there can be flea eggs in the environment. As these eggs hatch they will seek out a cat or dog to get a blood meal from. They can only reproduce if they get a meal from a cat or dog. So, if we treat them for a few months then no fleas can reproduce.

Now, if the problem comes back again, it's possible that this is something called a steroid responsive dermatitis. One possibility is allergies. (We usually don't find what they are allergic to). There is also something called an eosinophilic dermatitis. Cats who have either of these conditions will usually respond to a steroid injection. But, they may need to have that injection every couple of months.

I would say, keep up with the flea treatments and things start to get worse, then I would see the specialist then.

Hope that helps!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dear Dr. Marie,

Thank you for your kind and prompt response last Friday.

I will continue to treat all my 3 cats with Frontline for the next 3 months.

Could a possible cause be food allergies? How common is allergy towards chicken/poultry meats in cats? Coincidentally, Derek Boy has just switched to a 100% chicken canned cat food diet.

Thank you for reading my question, have a good day.

Best regards,
Jessica Lu

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome.

A food allergy is possible, but not very common. It's often hard to know whether food is the culprit. However, if the problems started within a few days or weeks of starting this new food then it's not a bad idea to switch to something else!

Customer reply:

Dear Dr. Marie,

Okay, I will take note.

Thank you for your kind and assuring replies! Have a good day.

Best regards,

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.