Does your cat or dog itch constantly? Do they obsessively scratch certain areas or lick paws? Notice a foul odor on their skin or ears, balding spots or discoloration?
Occasional pet itching is common – especially in dogs. Constant itching may be a sign of skin disease or allergies and can cause hair loss or skin damage. Additionally, it can be an annoyance to you, even keeping you up at night. If not addressed at onset, your pets may have a harder time battling this issue and it can be harder to treat and control.
Common Types of Pet Allergies and Pet Skin Diseases:
- Flea allergy
- Food allergy
- Contact allergy or contact dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis (a chronic itchy skin disease associated with environmental allergens)
Our veterinarians will examine your pet to make a skin diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
Flea bite hypersensitivity causes severe pet itching. One or two flea bites can cause pruritis (itchy skin) with the hind end affected most often. Fleas and flea feces that contain your pet’s blood are not always visible to your eye. We recommend year-round flea prevention and, if needed, medicated flea baths to limit fleas on your pet and stop their itch.
A food trial will be recommended in about 10% of cases to determine if your pet has food allergies. Pets will be fed a diet with one protein and one carbohydrate for 10 weeks. No other foods or treats are allowed. If symptoms disappear, food allergies are likely to blame.
Allergic contact dermatitis is rare but occurs when a pet’s skin overreacts to molecules in the environment such as nickel, rubber, wool, dyes and chemicals.
A common diagnosis is atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disorder brought on by environmental allergens such as grass, mold, pollen or cigarette smoke.
Talk to your veterinarian about skin and blood tests for dermatitis. A referral to a veterinary dermatologist might be recommended. In a skin test, a small level of allergens is injected under your pet’s skin to test for reactions. In a blood test, your pet’s blood will be analyzed for which allergens specific to your pet’s environment could be causing the reaction.
Pet Allergy & Itch Treatment
Once the pet allergens have been identified, we can develop a program to eliminate the source of the allergy in your pet’s environment and treat the skin.
Some options for pet allergies and itch relief include:
- Anti-itch shampoo and conditioners
- Anti-fungal shampoo such as Malaseb
- Cyclosporine therapy
- Essential fatty acids (such as Omega 3)
- Hypoallergenic diets
- Injections such as Cytopoint
- Oral steroids in low doses to treat sporadic outbreaks
- Prescriptions such as Apoquel
- Topical steroid sprays
Want to take a quick 6-question quiz to learn more about your dog’s itching AND help military, police and service dogs?
Each time the quiz is taken, Zoetis will make a donation to K-9 Courage™ Program. K-9 Courage provides healthcare assistance to retired military and active police dogs as well as active service dogs that assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. Once admitted into the program, each dog receives a $300 credit every year for the rest of its life to help cover veterinary expenses like wellness and emergency visits, vaccines, prescription medications, food and treats.