How to Help Your Itchy Pet
by NW Vet Staff
Tips to keep your pets skin healthy:
- Supplements: Fatty acid supplements and other nutritional supplements can help some pets with skin itching. Please ask if a nutritional supplement can help your pet.
- Shampoos: Make sure the shampoo is fragrant free and mild. We offer many shampoos especially made for sensitive and itchy skin
- Keep a clean environment: Just like humans, pet can be allergic to dust and area allergens. Vacuum carpets frequently and keep hard surfaces swept. Many pets are sensitive to plastic feeding bowls, metal and ceramic can be great options. Make sure to wash pet bedding regularly, along with feeding bowls and toys.
- Brush your pet regularly: Matting of fur and a thick undercoat can cause irritation. Brushing several times a week is ideal.
- Provide a happy home: A dog may lick skin (especially the legs) excessively for many reasons. Some lick when not given adequate opportunity for activity or mental stimulation.
- Feed a healthy diet: A balanced diet without fillers or artificial ingredients.
- Maintain a parasite prevention program: We live in a mild climate, which means fleas can survive year round. Make sure monthly dosages of a veterinary parasite medication will control
What it could be:
- Fleas: Bites and droppings from these pesky insects can irritate the skin, and some pets can have an allergic response to the saliva following a bite. Some animals may also be sensitive to flea-treatment products; certain flea collars, for example, may cause redness and irritation around the neck.
- Ringworm: This highly contagious fungal infection can result in inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. You’ll want to treat it immediately to avoid other pets and people in the household from becoming infected.
- Parasites: such as ear mites and lice
- Seasonal changes or allergies:Your pet’s scratching may be due to her sensitivity to allergens from common substances like pollen, weeds, dust, mites, trees, mold or grasses.
- Food Allergies: Many pets develop allergies to common ingredients in foods, we can discuss specific dietary needs and changes for your pet.
- Skin infections: Pets can develop irritating bacterial or yeast infections when the skin is damaged due to the presence of another skin disorder.
- Mange: Types of mange and mites cause infection and can results in extreme itching and skin inflammation similar to an allergic response.
- Grooming products: Certain shampoos and grooming products can irritate skin.
- Stress or boredom: Pets who are young, elderly, immunocompromised or living in crowded, stressful environments may be more susceptible to skin problems than others.
- Metabolic or hormonal problems: These problems can cause change in skin color, coat consistency, thickness and distribution.
How are causes diagnosed?
Itching is a response to another condition. Identifying the cause is as important as treating the itch. Along with an overview of your pets medical history during an exam we may:
- Microscopic examination of hair and skin cells to look for presence of mites, other skin parasites or infection
- Culture testing to identify bacteria or fungal organisms
- Allergy testing - Both food and environmental testing is available at our Seattle Veterinary and Everett Veterinary locations have the capability to perform specific allergy testing to get to the bottom of the actual cause.
- Blood work to look for underlying medical issues that can affect the skin
- Looking for behavioral and psychogenetic issues that may be a contributor
- Skin biopsy
How we can help:
- Routine exams: Prevention is key. Regular check ups every 6 months to a year can help catch problems before they start.
- Topical products: We may recommend a topical product if your pet has mild or localized itching. We stock Douxo brand shampoos, wipes and mousses that contain lipids for skin regeneration. Depening on the type of skin your pet has, certain products contain anti-fungal medications and antiseptics.
- Medications: Scratching makes the skin susceptible to bacterial and fungal organisms. These organisms release chemicals that irritate nerve endings in the skin and cause itching. If needed, we will determine the best medication for your pet. We are excited to innovative new medications for short and long term use, such as Apoquel and Cytopoint.
- Dietary change: Some pets have allergies to certain ingredients in their food. These pets might do well on a hydrolyzed protein diet or a diet with one single protein, such as rabbit or venison. Only through extensive diet restrictions, can we factor down what your pet is allergic to.
View this link for more great dietary and skin related suggestions: https://www.k9ofmine.com/best-hypoallergenic-dog-food/
Remember itching can actually be a sign of a serious underlying problem that should not be ignored
Managing and treating an itchy pet can require several approaches. There may be multiple factor contributing to your pet’s irritated skin. For instance, if a pet has a primary food allergy to fleas in addition to a bacterial or fungal infection, all of these may need to be addressed.
Treatment for an itchy pet can require a long-term commitment, but we are excited that we are on the cutting edge of veterinary clinics for skin healing. Because pets respond differently to medications, we may need to revise the treatment plan as therapy is progressing. It is important to maintain communication with us and stay alert to your pet’s development and behaviors.
Our team is well trained in the complex issues of a pet with itchy skin. We are always available to answer any questions you may have, contact either our Seattle Veterinary Clinic or Everett Veterinary Clinic locations.
Northgate Veterinary Clinic - Seattle (206)363-8421
Broadway Animal Hospital - Everett (425)252-8266