Cats and dogs not immune from acne

Over winter, whiskers are often singed.

Over winter, whiskers are often singed.

PAWS AND CLAWS: Whiskers are amazing things. A cat wouldn't be a cat without that big fan of whiskers from either side of that little nose and dogs just wouldn't be the same without those bristles around their muzzle.

Whiskers are actually the first hairs to grow in puppies and there are several clumps of them either side of the muzzle above the upper lips, in small clumps on the forehead above the eyes, and other clumps either side of the chin.

Cats of course have those very regal wide thick whiskers that look awesome. The roots of these hairs are much deeper than ordinary hairs and the base has a large nerve supply that gives the whiskers the ability to be very sensitive.

Not only do the whiskers sense touch, which actually causes the eyelids to blink and protect the eyes, but they also register air movement, which helps sense the presence and size of nearby objects.

The hair shafts themselves have no feeling, which is lucky because we see quite a few singed curly cats' whiskers during the winter due to a little bit too longer stay in front of the heater. Have you ever touched a cat's coat when it is lying right in front of the heater? It is incredibly hot.

Another different little feature that my patients have are their chins. And we see a few problems with this area. Rosie is a good example.

Rosie is a smooching 4-year-old female tortoiseshell that spends every waking moment parked up in the sun on the duvet at Jane's house. But unfortunately this was no longer accepted practice because young Rosie had been leaving horrible blood stained marks all over the bed. It didn't take long before Jane figured out where the blood was coming from – it was Rosie's chin.

When I saw her last week, Rosie had multiple blacky-blue raised lumps in the skin of her chin, some of which she had obviously been rubbing and made bleed.

This is a very common disease called Feline acne. Yep, cats get acne as well as people.

Any age and sex of cat may be affected. Similar to people, it is thought to be due to excessive oil production by the oil glands in the chin, but hormones don't seem to be involved in my patients.

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A whole range of treatments have been tried over the years, but most of the problem with treatment is how to apply anything without the patient licking it straight off. Rosie was sent home with a skin cleanser – not Shiseido – some nice tasting (true) antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory tablets.

At her revisit appointment, Rosie was back in her rightful place on the duvet, with a much-improved looking chin. These cases do improve quickly, but Jane will have to check Rosie's chin regularly in case it flares up again.

Dogs aren't exempt from the evil acne disease. Winston is a great example. What breed do you reckon? British bulldog, of course. Not to be confused with the bull terrier.

His chin, apart from being large and attached to a very wide and muscular body, is a classic example of what we sometimes see in the shorter faced breeds and sometimes great danes.

Canine acne is slightly different to the cat form as it often occurs in juvenile dogs and often improves with maturity. Often the bumps become infected and can be itchy, resulting in an attractive habit of face rubbing along the furniture and carpet.

We do have to be careful though because there are a couple of other diseases that can look very similar or that can complicate the original acne in dogs – for example mites, ringworm and an unusual disease called puppy strangles.

Like their feline cousins, dogs need skin cleansers, antibiotics and sometimes anti-inflammatories. So Winston had a little bag of goodies to take home and next week when he waddles in I'm sure his chin will be looking more appealing.

So that covers the front pointy end.

 - Stuff


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