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What is Miliary Dermatitis in Cats?

itching cat

While there are many conditions that can cause a pet to have itchy skin, miliary dermatitis is something that only occurs in cats.  It’s typically an allergic reaction that creates an itchy, uncomfortable rash on parts of your cat’s body. 

While no cat parent ever wants to see their cat sick, the great news is that feline miliary dermatitis is a treatable condition, and your cat’s skin can be healthy and itch-free in no time. 

Common Causes and Signs of Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Some signs of miliary dermatitis on your cat are small bumps that may be scabby, swollen and oozing, itching, and hair loss resulting from your kitty scratching the itch. 

Your cat’s skin may look irritated and red as well. The rash may be localized to a certain part of your cat’s body or appear in multiple places. 

Miliary dermatitis is not a disease in itself, but it is a disease complex that happens due to an underlying trigger.

Some of the causes of this condition include:

  • Allergy to flea bites
  • Food allergies
  • Environmental allergies
  • Mange
  • Ringworm
  • Bacterial infection of the skin
  • Lice
  • Malnutrition

There are others as well, and sometimes the cause is unknown.

cat sneezing

Treatment Options for Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

The first step in treating this condition will be a visit to your vet. 

They’ll get a history of your cat’s symptoms and do a physical exam. Where the rash and lesions are on your cat’s body can sometimes provide a clue as to the cause. 

If the rash is mainly near the base of the tail, and/or if fleas or “flea dirt” are seen, fleas are the likely cause.  If fleas are not the obvious culprit but your cat is not on flea treatment, this may be tried initially. 

If your vet feels another cause is underlying, or flea treatment does not resolve it, other tests will be done.  These can include skin scraping to check for mites, a skin cytology (this checks for bacterial infections), a fungal culture to check for ringworm, and checking a stool sample for parasites. 

If it’s still unclear what’s making your cat itchy and scabby, your vet might try treatments such as antibiotics, a food trial, or even a skin biopsy.

Treatment generally will depend on what ‘s causing the issue, and can be:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • Allergy medication
  • Steroids
  • Prescription diets

The outcome is usually good once the underlying cause is found.

cat taking pill

Does Your Cat Have Miliary Dermatitis?

Make an appointment with a vet if you have any concerns about your cat’s skin. The sooner your cat’s skin condition can be diagnosed, the sooner you can seek treatment for their miliary dermatitis. 

It can take patience and persistence, but your kitty can return to having healthier skin again with treatment.

Book an appointment today to get expert advice from a licensed veterinarian and determine next steps for your feline friend. 

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