Feline Miliary Dermatitis Treatment

Feline miliary dermatitis is a common skin condition in domesticated cats. The disease derives the ‘miliary’ part of its name from the lesions that look like millet seeds, and dermatitis refers to skin inflammation. This condition is not usually very serious, but it can be very uncomfortable for affected cats.

Causes of Feline Miliary Dermatitis

There is no one specific pathogen that causes miliary dermatitis in cats, as the disease does not refer to a species of microbe, but a set of symptoms. Feline miliary dermatitis is usually caused by an allergic reaction, and the most common source is the flea allergy. It is also caused by bacterial or fungal infections, especially yeast infection. Multicellular parasites, such as mites, lice or intestinal parasites can also result in feline miliary dermatitis. In rare cases, cats can develop miliary dermatitis due to hormonal imbalances.

Symptoms of Feline Miliary Dermatitis

Feline miliary dermatitis is characterized by red, inflamed lesion areas that form multiple crusty bumps. In less severe cases, the lesions are small, usually located around the base of the tail or the head, while in worse cases, they can cover large portions of the cat’s body. The lesions are often extremely itchy, so affected cats can be identified by their excessive scratching and licking, which can cause further damage to the infected area.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A veterinarian can conclusively diagnose a case of feline miliary dermatitis with a simple exam. Note that the diagnosis of the disease is useless until the cause of the problem is determined, which is usually much more difficult. Once a cat is diagnosed with feline miliary dermatitis, the vet will perform extensive testing to determine the cause of the problem.

Sometimes the location of the lesions can aid in diagnosis. Lesions close to the base of the tail are more likely to be the result of a flea infestation, while head and neck lesions are more likely to be caused by mites. The cat’s fur is thoroughly examined for fleas and lice, usually with a flea comb, and skin scrapings are taken to look for mites.

If the miliary dermatitis is determined to be caused by fleas, mites or lice, the cat will most likely be given a product containing pyrethrin, a chemical that is very toxic to these parasitic arthropods. A fecal exam can determine whether the disease is caused by intestinal parasites, in which case, medication can be administered to kill the infestation. If the veterinarian suspects a food allergy, the cat will be given a food trial, which consists of a change in the cat’s diet.

Feline miliary dermatitis can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition for any cat, not to mention how disgusting it looks to the animal’s owner. If you notice miliary dermatitis on your cat, take it to the vet to determine the cause, because the sooner the cause is identified, the sooner the disease can be treated.