Complete Guide to Dermatology – Structure & Function of Skin in Dogs and Cats

Complete Guide To Dermatology – Structure & Function Of Skin In Dogs And Cats

Importance of Your Pet’s Skin

The lustrous skin of your cat or dog signals sound health and vitality, an indication of a pet’s health status. But pets with flaky, dry, or even unkempt coats or skin will need the attention of dermatology specialists. This is because your cat or dog may be suffering from health conditions like liver or kidney disease, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), or even nutritional disorders.

In fact, one of the significant ways a veterinarian assesses the overall health of your cat or dog is by looking at the condition of your pet’s skin and coat. The structure and function of the skin usually reflect the internal function of your pets’ bodies.

This is why one should never be complacent when you notice hair loss, bumps, flakes, or itchiness of your pet’s skin. Bring your pet in immediately for a thorough examination.

What You right to Know About Your Pet’s Skin

The coat and skin are the greater organs in cats and dogs. It includes approximately 10-15 percent of their total body weight. The skin is generally made up of a layer acknowledged as the hypodermis. This layer of skin mostly contains fat, the epidermis, and the dermis.

The epidermis is home to specialized skin cells known as keratinocytes which produce a waxy substance called keratin. This waxy substance prevents the loss of water via the skin.

Your pet’s coat is made up of thousands of hairs that are continuously shed as a result of stress. However, they are replaced almost immediately with more hair. If you have ever cleaned your dog or cat, you can attest to the volume of hair that your pet sheds every day.

Seasonal shedding also occurs from time to time in order to replace the coat. This is usually affected by what is known as the photoperiod, i.e. outside temperature as well as hours of daylight every day. But dogs and cats that spend most of their time inside the home are exposed to electric light and a more consistent climate. This results in a year-round shedding.

Pets Skin and Health

The function of the skin contributes to the overall health of your dog or cat.

Here are some of the functions of your pet’s skin and coat:


The skin and coat of your pet serve as barriers that protect them from external objects, environmental stressors, and chemicals. They also protect internal organs from external threats.

The skin also contains several nerves as well as nerve endings that help pets to sense cold, pressure, heat, and pain.


Do you know that your pet’s skin plays a role in the maintenance of proper hydration? The loss of water – i.e. dehydration – through the skin can have a severe impact on your pet’s overall health. Cats and dogs don’t have sweat glands; therefore, excess loss of water via unhealthy skin will result in severe health problems.

Dog skin disorders can significantly affect the amount of energy your feline or canine needs to maintain their metabolism.


The skin also plays a vital role in the immune system of your pet. If this immunity is severely compromised, it could result in dog skin disorders, infections, or other potentially dangerous diseases caused by harmful bacteria.


The key to healthy skin starts with your feline or canine’s diet. Dermatology specialists will recommend a specific diet that your dog or cat should always stick to in order to avoid dog skin disorders as well as other health problems peculiar to cats.

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