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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16537
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat is licking and chewing on both sides of his body and

Customer Question

My cat is licking and chewing on both sides of his body and his hair has come out.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Riley is excessively grooming the side of his body such that he has hair loss. Has he ever done anything like this before? Hair loss on the abdomen, sides, and rear legs can be related to allergies (food, fleas, inhaled), stress, arthritis pain or anal gland inflammation. In rare cases it can be related to abdominal pain.Over grooming most often is related to itchy skin or it can be a self calming behavior. Grooming releases a calming neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a calming neurotransmitter.Are you using any flea medication? Some are more effective than others and if he is experiencing an occasional bite that can lead to him overgrooming himself. If you have other cats and they aren't affected than it may be the other cats aren't allergic. I like Frontline Plus or Advantage II topicals for cats or the new Seresto flea collar. Many over the counter products aren't effective and some are toxic.If he's been given a new food or treat then stopping that or trying a hypoallergenic diet such as Hills z/d or Royal Canin Duck and Green Peas may help. If you choose to use a hypoallergenic diet then it must be the only thing that he gets for at least 10 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. No table foods or treats or flavored medication.If this is stress related then decreasing stress by using Feliway may help. Feliway is a synthetic analog of a facial pheromone which cats use to mark their home territory and is calming for them. Even though things may seem fine there may things that you aren't aware of. Sometimes anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone or fluoxetine prescribed by his veterinarian may be indicated. If this is arthritis related then using a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement (like Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like Derm Caps) to improve joint lubrication and cartilage health may be very helpful. To control allergic symptoms from fleas or inhaled allergies you can try:1) Benadryl (diphenhydramine only, the combination products with decongestants and acetaminophen are toxic to cats) at 1mg to 2mg per pound every 8 hours. That's a half of 25mg tablet every 8 hours for a cat that is 8 to 15 pounds. OR 2) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg twice daily.OR3) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at a dose of 5 mg per cat given orally every 24 hours. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because cats cannot tolerate decongestants.Combined with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids antihistamines work to relieve his itchiness. I like 3V caps or Derm Caps. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 8 pound cat could take 160mg of EPA per day. Antihistamines and omega-3 fatty acids work synergistically. These should help reduce the itch. Be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity which should resolve with continued use. If he goes outside other parasites like Cheyletiella or sarcoptic mange are possible causes as well.For now I would start with strict flea control, and an antihistamine and omega 3 fatty acids. If he's not significantly better in 2 weeks then it's time for a veterinary examination to look further for problems and/or a hypoallergenic food trial. Please let me know if you have further questions by replying to this post.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm just checking to make sure that you don't have any further questions for me, and see how your kitty is progressing. Please let me know if you have any further questions.