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What are Feline Miliary Dermatitis?

Feline miliary dermatitis is the term vets use when they explain the skin condition affecting a cat, as the reaction looks like tiny millet seeds on the cat’s skin.This condition is also called scabby cat disease, papulocrusting dermatitis and miliary eczema. The rash appears most often around the neck and head of the cat, going down its back.

Feline miliary dermatitis is a term used to describe several skin conditions, usually as the result of an allergic reaction. The allergy could be to flea bites or other types of allergens. Harvest mites, walking dandruff, ear mites and lice can also lead to the development of this condition. Food allergies can also cause allergic reactions that show up on the cat’s skin. 

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Cats that develop feline miliary dermatitis display:

  • Tiny, red crusty bumps on the skin (near the head and neck, and running down the back)
  • Hair loss
  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Hair pulling
  • Thickened skin that is darker than surrounding skin
  • Grazed areas on the skin resulting from constant scratching

When a food allergy causes feline miliary dermatitis, the cat develops sores and scabs around its head and tail. Some circular sores can be found around the shoulders.

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Causes of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Cats can develop this skin condition from one of many causes, or a combination of several:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Flea bite hypersensitivity (most common cause)
  • Cheyletiellosis mite
  • Hormone/endocrine disorder
  • Allergies (food, inhalant, or food intolerance issues)
  • Drug hypersensitivity
  • Poor diet
  • Mites
  • Ringworm
  • Immune-mediated diseases (immune disorders)
  • Contact allergies (rare)

In warm-climate areas or flea-infested areas, this skin condition can develop more frequently in cats. Cold-winter regions may see this condition develop much more often in the summer months.

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Diagnosis of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

The vet will rely mainly on the cat’s medical history and the clinical signs of the condition to make a diagnosis. If they know, for instance, that the cat has experienced food intolerance or food allergies, they are more likely to tell the cat’s owner that the cat has developed feline miliary dermatitis.  

It’s not easy to spot fleas on a cat, but if the vet sees flea dirt or feces on the cat, they are also likely to provide this diagnosis. The cause may be determined as a flea allergy, but if it doesn’t respond to a flea treatment, the vet will run additional tests to narrow down the diagnosis:

  • Serum IgE allergy testing
  • Skin scraping
  • Fur samples
  • Hypoallergenic food trial
  • Fecal examination to look for intestinal parasites
  • Biochemical profile
  • Biopsies
  • Referral to a veterinary dermatologist

Veterinarians take into account the locations of the rashes and lesions in making their diagnosis. They will also measure the size of the lesions and determine what kind they are.

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Treatment of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

Treatment is straightforward: Remove the irritants and make the cat more comfortable until the lesions heal.

Cat owners need to remove fleas from the cat’s home environment, which may help relieve many of its symptoms. If the fleas return, the allergy symptoms and rashes will return. Because cats groom themselves daily, it’s rare to find live fleas on their bodies.

If the cause of the cat’s skin condition is a food allergy or intolerance, the pet owner will need to switch the cat to a different food. It is vital that, once a food allergy has been diagnosed, the cat does not eat the allergy-causing food. If the cat has been allowed to roam outdoors, it will have to stay indoors permanently to reduce the risk of eating an offending food or hunting and eating prey that could cause a relapse.

The cat owner will need to give the cat one of several medications:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Fatty acid supplements (skin oil replacements)
  • Antibiotics
  • Topical ointments
  • Special shampoo to stop inflammation and itching

For intestinal parasites, the cat will have to take medication that helps to eliminate the parasites.

Allergy shots for cats are controversial—they are used only for cats who are severely affected

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Recovery of Feline Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

The prognosis for cats diagnosed with miliary dermatitis are excellent. Once the offending substance has been eliminated from the cat’s environment or food, the cat will recover. Its skin will heal and fur will grow back.

The pet owner will have to be vigilant in keeping fleas from returning to the home if the cat’s condition is flea allergy-related. The new food given to the cat will be a permanent part of its diet. Since many causes of miliary dermatitis are allergy-related, the cat may need occasional treatments with corticosteroids to keep flare-ups from becoming severe. 

As the cat gets older, its allergies may get worse. If it has been diagnosed with more than one allergy, its recovery may not be total, meaning it needs to continue with treatment to keep skin reactions and symptoms under control.

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Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

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Feline Miliary Dermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Maine Coon Mix

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12 weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rough Scaby Spots

I just adopted a kitten, we have had her for a week now. I noticed she had a rough spot on her back a few days ago and she had been sneezing a lot. I did make a vet appointment for next week but I'm wondering if she should be seen sooner. she has developed a few new spots on her head, ear and nose. I also have a 4 year old AmStaff and I'm worried if it's something that could be contagious.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens are commonly affected by ringworm, and I would be concerned about that with the lesions that you are describing. It would probably be best to keep the kitten separated from your dog until the appointment with your veterinarian, and make sure to wash your hands after handling the kitten. Frequent washing of bedding can help, as well. Keeping close contact with her to a minimum would probably be a good idea until she is seen, as hard as that is with 12 week old kittens! once you have had her seen by your veterinarian, they will be able to give you more information as to what might be going on, and get any medications needed. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 4, 2020

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Siamese mix

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Red Bumps

My kitten got spayed. Her wound was almost done healing and she started licking it and made a huge nasty mess of it. I've had a cone on her for like 3 months. The wound is slowly healing and fur is growing back. Now she has these bumps all over her stomach and I'm not sure what they are or how to treat it

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, These are pustules. Very similar to pimples in people. This is a bacterial skin infection that will need antibiotics to clear up. If there were just a few, it would potentially clear up with just topical cleaner. Your vet should be able to prescribe your cat some antibiotics to help with this.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Orange kittens

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Six Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Open Wounds, Scabs, Biting Themselves, Scratching, Hair Loss

Hello, I have two stray kittens that stay with their mom all three have fleas and from my research I came to the conclusion that the reason they have opened wounds on their legs, scabs and hair loss on top of their head is because of the fleas. I was wondering what can I do for them? I can’t afford going to the vet so I wanna know if I can buy medicine for their fleas and wounds? Is there a possibility that the flea medicine get rid of their scent and the mom rejects them? Thank you for your time.

July 10, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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I'm sorry that the kittens are not feeling well. Most flea control products are not licensed for kittens under 8 weeks. They may need a prescription product to help treat them. It would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they know which products are safe. There are many low-cost clinics that exist, and there may be one in your area, or a Humane Society. I hope that all goes well with the kittens.

July 10, 2020

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Houdini

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tabby

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs, Hairball, Excess Grooming, Lesions

Houdini has suffered from dermatitis for nearly 5 years but this summer is especially terrible. He has been throwing up numerous hairballs a month He is flea treated but past vets have determined it is a flea and possible dust allergy as he has only been an indoor cat for the last 5 years of his life. And his skin looks terrible. Scabs, inflammation, lesions. I just moved and am so low on funds, what can I do for him at home? He is eating, drinking plenty of water, playing and sleeping as he normally would but you can feel the scabs and bumps from his neck to the tip of his tail and I am heartbroken for him.

Aug. 17, 2018

Houdini's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is important to determine whether fleas and dust are the triggers or not, allergy testing would be the best to confirm whether this is the case; it is also important to ensure that you are using an effective flea prevention medication as well. There is no specific one fits all solution and you would need to work with your Veterinarian to determine what is the best solution for Houdini. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Bells

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As above

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

The Seedy Lumps Dry Coarse Hair

My vet gave me Zymox for the miliary dermatitis. I noticed it is ear drops. Currently my finances are not ideal for skin testing to find cause. Bella is ten years old and is extremely overweight. 25#. She is Maine coon and Norwegian Forest. I am going back to the vet in a couple of weeks. Let me add she has multiple fatty tumors and a hard one the size of a dime that the vet is concerned about. Is this treatment for the dermatitis one that works? She initially had them around her neck, now I noticed she has them down her back to her tail. She does not scratch, she has no fleas or mites. I am heartbroken over this especially the tumors. How long will it take to clear? What type of shampoo should use. Her skin is dry and where the dermatitis is coarse compared to her soft fur. Any comments would be appreciated. Again going back to the vet is going to cost more money as she also wants to do blood work. Thank you.

Aug. 11, 2018

Bells' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

In cases of feline miliary dermatitis, it is important to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms as the term is a general term; ZYMOX among other products may be given but it is always best to know what the underlying cause is that you’re treating instead of addressing the symptoms only. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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Pepe

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Simease mix

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Itching
Lesion
Over Grooming

We adopted pepe when he was 6 months old. After a few months we noticed him over grooming quite abit. We took him to the vet and was told it was food allergies or flea allergy thus started the endless line of vets telling us the same and the treatment was always the same, revolution for any possible flea bites even thought he does not have any and hypoallergenic food of various proteins and steroids either pill form or a shot. The steroid shot managed to take the symptoms away but very temporarily and the pill only worked in high doses. We recently took him to yet another vet and after the usual food allergy diagnosis, the vet dove into some other reasons first being mites. skin scraping were done that yielded negative results but the vet told us certain mites can be very difficult to find due to cats being excellent groomers. The vet prescribed bravecto, a topical flea and tick killer that also has a unlabeled effects on mites we gave him the drops and noticed three days after his itching amplified majorly which from what we read online is possibly a good sign that it may very well be mites. Due to lack of information on this treatment and rarity of this condition in cats (demodex gatoi) and cant seem to find any sort of timeline to know exactly how long before improvement start to show if it is indeed mites. I will update when more time passes just wondering if anyone has experiences with bravecto used as a mite treatment or demodex gatoi.

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Kitty

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Calico

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Small Scabs

So I just recently discovered a few scabs around my cats neck and head and they’re very small but now I’ve found like the 5-6th one in the past 2 weeks. There hasn’t been any change in her diet or living area I’m curious what could be the cause she eats and uses the litter so I’m a little confused and I’m also concerned if I should let her sleep in my bed as well anything should help

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Sofia

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MaineCoon

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scale Crust
Irritation
Black Balls

My cat Sofie has been having this very recently. Luckily, it's only some crustyness but i am really thinking that she might have mites. ever since she got it she's been sleeping in my room and my heads been getting REALLY itchy. But I bet that as soon as I peel all of that off (she loves it! :D) she'll stop being itchy(so will I) and she'll go back to being my happy little kitty!

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Lilly

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itching, Scratching,

Our cat developed milliary dermititis and we found it was a food allergy. We immediately put her on an expensive prescription hypoallergenic food and it went away. I was wondering if there is a specific ingredient that I need to look for that may be causing the issue when searching for a cheaper aternate food. Any help is greatly aappreciated and we look forward to hearing from anyone that may be able to help.

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Bella

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tabby

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling, Dandruff, Itching

My female cat, Bella, has a condition I can't pinpoint. She has dandruff first, then swelling on one side of the face, followed by swelling in one paw (after the face swelling subsides) and then finally the military dermatitis blows up and she has crusty spots develop that she licks and chews until they bleed and the hair is gone. Ultimately I get her a shot at the vets (steroid) and the symptoms completely subside...for 6 weeks to the day. she's been combed for fleas and that never is it (she is an indoor cat too) and I have tried changing food to see if I notice any change after that... but I'm at a loss. I don't want to continue the shots and damage organs or throw her into diabetes. But we want to help her relieve these issues because she seems so uncomfortable from them! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Feline Miliary Dermatitis Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

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