Figure 5: Clinical Presentation of the Feline Patient

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Four distinct clinical patterns of allergic dermatitis have been described in the cat: miliary dermatitis, head and neck pruritus, self-induced alopecia, and eosinophilic granuloma complex (eosinophilic plaques, granulomas, and indolent ulcers). Figure 5 shows images of each of these clinical patterns.

Pruritus, from mild to severe, is typically present in cats with allergic dermatitis, whether due to food allergy, flea allergy, and/or FASS (environmental allergies). Exceptions include indolent ulcers or eosinophilic granulomas, which can occur without pruritus.

None of the feline cutaneous reaction patterns are pathognomonic for any particular pruritic disease, emphasizing the need to perform a thorough diagnostic workup, including an accurate clinical history, dermatologic physical examination, and a minimum dermatologic database. Atypical or non–treatment-responsive lesions may require a skin biopsy for definitive diagnosis.

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Figure 5 Diagram

Photos courtesy of Andrew Simpson, DVM, MS, DACVD

The 2023 AAHA Management of Allergic Skin Diseases in Dogs and Cats Guidelines are generously supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis.

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