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Hes started scratching his head pretty constantly. Its

Hes started scratching his...

Hes started scratching his head pretty constantly. Its causing scabs inbetween his ears and eyes as well as near his neck. Im looking for anything i can change at home that mught help before taking him to the vet.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Using the wrong medication for fleas can be dangerous. You should definitely talk to the Veterinarian. What is the cat's name and age?

Torro is 6

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the cat's name?

Torro

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Torro?

No issues have ever come up this far and ive had him his whole life.

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Answered in 1 minute by:
9/23/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18,852
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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I am sorry to hear that Torro is scratching his head constantly leading to scabs on his head in the thinly haired area between his eyes and ears, and on his neck.

Cats get a type of lesion in response to allergic stimulation called miliary dermatitis. We usually see crusts, scabs and hair loss along the back, and on the face, especially in the thinly haired area between the ears and eyes.

Facial, neck, and ear itchiness and secondary sores and scabs can be for several reasons.

The most common reasons tend to be secondary to flea bite or food allergies, a mite called Demodex gatoi, sarcoptic mites, mosquito bite hypersensitivity (usually affects the bridge of the nose and ears but can cause itchiness all over the face), inhaled allergies, ringworm, solar dermatitis which is an extreme form of sunburn (usually very light skinned cats with pink skin are affected) and rarely autoimmune condition conditions such as pemphigus.

If he has a dark haircoat then solar dermatitis is unlikely. But if he goes outdoors ringworm, flea bite and mosquito bite hypersensitivity and demodex or sarcoptic mites are possible.

If he isn't improving with the suggestions I give you I would recommend having your veterinarian examine him to look at a skin swab to look for Demodex Gatoi mites, a skin scraping for signs of sarcoptic mites, or evidence of fleas. A fungal culture should be checked for completeness.

In the meantime you may wish to consider a true hypoallergenic diet such as Royal Canin Duck & Green Pea or other Royal Canin single source protein diets, or Hills z/d to test/treat him for food allergies. This must be the only things he eats for at least 8 to 12 weeks, no treats or flavored medication. The trouble with "limited ingredient" or "low allergy" pet store brands is that the same machinery is used on multiple lots of food without sterilization cleaning in between. So for example even if a food says it has salmon and rice if the previous batch had beef and corn then you will get traces of those ingredients in your bag of food. Not a big deal if your cat isn't allergic but a waste of money thinking that the food was hypoallergenic and not good for your cat if those happen to be allergens for your cat. The veterinary brand true hypoallergenic foods are more expensive because it isn't cheap to thoroughly remove all traces of a previous food mixture from the machines used to process food. Generally what I recommend is trying to clear the skin and ears and then adding one food item (chicken, beef, corn wheat etc) every month to see what they react to. Then we can find a regular food to try that does not contain the ingredients that he reacted to. I do tend to stick with Purina Pro Plan brands or Nature's Recipe as I find those rarely if ever have cross contamination.

You might also wish to try a combination of antihistamines and omega 3 fatty acids to help with inhaled, flea, or mosquito bite allergies. You can use either:

1) chlorpheniramine 4mg at half to one full tablet orally every 12 to 24 hours

OR

2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at half of a 25mg tablet per 8 to 15 pound cat every 8 to 12 hours (1mg to 2mg per pound of body weight every 8 to 12 hours). Benadryl is very bitter and some cats will drool excessively or may even vomit because of that. That doesn't mean it is making him ill, he just hates the taste. If that's the case with him try a different antihistamine.

3) 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.)

Antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some cats but those effects usually wane with repeated use.

Good brand name omega 3's to try are 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. Together antihistamines and omega-3 fatty acids work synergistically. These should help reduce the itch.

The way to avoid mosquito bites is by keeping him in at dawn and dusk when these insects are most likely out.

I would apply a good flea preventative as well. If you don't see any fleas you might not have a huge population and if he is very allergic he may be removing any the evidence with excess grooming. Ideally you need to apply topical flea control every 3 weeks in an allergic animal. Many over the counter products have a problem with fleas being resistant and some can be down right dangerous. I never recommend any products that Hartz or Sargent's make. I recommend Advantage II or Frontline Plus every 3 weeks for at least 4 months for indoor cats and all year round for cats that go outside or if there are dogs in the home. All pets in the house must be treated as if you don't the nonallergic ones serve as a flea reservoir for the allergic one and you'll never solve your problem.

If he is not improving with these measures then then the diagnostics I mentioned above and possibly a skin biopsy would be the best way to get a definitive diagnosis and direct treatment.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18,852
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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