Written by: Misa Nash Edited by: Alex Rhodes
Just as you get settled in bed, you hear what might be the most unsettling noise; your pet is excessively licking or scratching. Your fur baby is clearly uncomfortable and you are unsure of how to help. We have all been there. An itchy pet can be overwhelming to deal with. Scheduling an appointment is your first step towards relief for your household. Finding the source can be a trial-and-error process, but worth it all in the end.
Skin irritation can be a symptom of many different disorders. It is important that a proper clinical exam is done to find the exact cause. It can be as simple as your veterinarian checking for and treating parasites such as fleas or ticks. Flea allergy dermatitis is commonly seen in our area, which is a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen in a flea’s saliva. Certain areas on the skin may become hot, red, and swollen and this may cause a secondary bacterial infection such as staph or acute moist dermatitis; also known as hot spots. These hot spots are often found on your pet’s head, hips or chest. Sometimes, a superficial bacterial infection, or folliculitis, can cause sores, bumps, and scabs on the skin. Usually, these irritating skin issues have underlying reasons. Your veterinarian should be able to diagnose the issue of a superficial irritation or check for allergies. Allergies can be seasonal, environmental, dietary, or circumstantial.
Seasonal allergies may come and go throughout the year causing flare-ups. Flare-ups usually happen as pollen hits the air, or your pet comes into contact with a seasonal allergen. Spring and summer are common times for seasonal allergies to cause issues. Our pets can be allergic to anything in their environment from the trees in the area to the stuffing in their beds. Keeping track of the flare-ups is important to discover what is causing the reaction. If you cannot get your pet to the veterinarian within the day, you can bathe your pet in cool water to help with the irritation. Using a wet wipe to clean your pets’ paws and body when they come inside can help remove the allergens from the pet, avoiding further irritation, and cut down on tracking the allergens into your home. Seasonal allergies may only need a treatment during certain times of the year. Your veterinarian will be able to suggest the best treatment for your pet during these times.
Environmental allergies can be tricky to diagnose. Anything in your pets’ environment can cause your pet to become itchy. Some of the allergens your pet comes into contact with may be what he/she is consuming. Food allergies can be an adverse reaction to an ingredient, or many ingredients in your pets’ food or treats. With food allergies, the symptoms can range from itching and red bumps on the skin to vomiting and diarrhea. If testing is not an option, you can try to figure out what the allergen is by eliminating the potential trigger. It can take up to 3-4 weeks for any noticeable differences to occur when switching foods. Your veterinarian may suggest a diet specially formulated for dogs with allergies.
The fastest way to figure out what’s bothering your pet is allergy testing. When that is not an option, treating your pets’ symptoms while we figure out what is causing the reactions is best practice. While the process can be overwhelming, keeping in contact with your veterinarian will help provide some relief for you and your pet.