Itching and Scratching, What Gives?

In Health Tips on March 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

One of the most frustrating problems in veterinary medicine is the question many pet owners ask, “Why does my animal itch so much?”


photo-6The reason this can be such a tricky problem, to find the true cause of the itch, you may have to run test after test. Itching and scratching can be caused by a number of different factors that are difficult to find. Some include:

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Allergies from the environment
  • Contact allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Fungal infection
  • Skin infection

Controlling the Itch

There are a few different therapies you can try before going to the vet, these include:

  • Shampoos– pet stores sell a number of different medicated shampoos that can temporarily relieve your pet’s itch. Follow directions on the bottle.
  • Topical products– there are a number of different anti-itch products that pet stores sell. These include ointments, lotions, or moisturizers. Just be sure to follow directions.
  • Medications– antihistamines and corticosteroids can help your pet from itching. Talk with your vet for the best option and dosage.
  • Supplements– some supplements such as fish oil and fatty acids can help temporarily relieve the itch.

If these therapies don’t help completely, I would suggest visiting your vet.

Finding the Problem:

When you bring your dog or cat into the vet because of itching, I would first suggest looking for fleas. If you find fleas or flea dirt, it can be a somewhat easy fix. By eliminating the fleas on your pet and in your home, your pet can hopefully become itch free.

Second, your vet can do a simple skin scraping or pull hair to look for mites. This is a quick and easy fix with the right medications.

Third, I would suggest running cultures to check for fungal infections and skin infections. As well as blood work to check for underlying problems. These tests take time to get the result. You have to wait for the “infection” to grow. But, if and once there is growth on the culture plate, your vet can submit the growth to a lab to get results that show exactly which antibiotic or medication can clear the infection. This can be timely and costly, but if it is an infection, it is the best way to cure it.

Lastly, run an allergen panel. This is pretty costly and many times allergens are not the problem. This test is nice because it can tell you if your pet is allergic to grains, pollens, or anything else and you can make changes based on the results.

The reason I suggest finding the itchy problem in this order, is to save you time and money. An itchy animal is a pain for you and your pet. It’s uncomfortable. Does your pet itch? Have you tried any of these therapies or have other suggestions?

Comment, post, question, and learn. Lets connect!



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