The top 5 reason why your pet may have itchy skin.
Do you have a pet that is chewing and scratching on themselves all day and night? There are many reason why a pet may have itchy skin. The more you know, the more you may be able to help them. Here are the top five reasons why your pet may have itchy skin.
- Flea allergy dermatitis/flea bite hypersensitivity
Pets are hosts to fleas. In order for fleas to survive on a pet, they must take a blood meal which means they need to bite your pet. Nowadays the advancement of flea killers topical and oral can really help make a difference in a pet’s life. One simple flea bite can cause misery to a pet that has flea allergies. Some pets can have a severe allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. Keeping them protected each month is vital, especially for a pet with flea allergy dermatitis. Often we hear a pet owner state that they do not see any fleas on the pet, yet they are really itchy. Many times we will run a flea comb over that pet and find fleas or flea dirt and eggs. Unless your pet is infested with fleas, it can be difficult to find just a few fleas on them. The best way to rule out flea allergies is by ensuring your pet is on a monthly flea killing medication.
2.Allergies to environmental allergens (like pollen)
Some pets, just like people can be very sensitive to environmental allergies. Most of the time this during certain times of the year like Spring and Summer due to high pollen count. A pet will commonly chew and lick on their paws. You may also see them scratching their body and rubbing their face. Contact allergy in their environment is also common, like grass or even their bedding. Dust mites is also something that can be found in the environment but cannot be seen with the naked eye. There is allergy testing that we can run on your pet that will tell us what types of things your pet is having an allergic reaction to. This can help give you more awareness to what can be going on with your pet.
3.Bacteria/yeast infections of the skin (including the ears)
Some pets can get bacterial growth on their skin. Bacteria can inflame the skin and cause a pet to lick and scratch. A pet can cause further inflammation and damage by the excessive scratching and especially the extra moisture from licking. An overgrowth of the bacteria on the skin surface can lead to hair loss, inflammation, and more. Many times special medicated shampoo and antibiotics will be needed to treat the infection.
4. Food allergies/adverse food reactions
Some pets can have an allergic reaction to something in their diet. This can cause them to be very itchy from head to toe. It is found that many pets with chronic ear infections, have a food allergy. Pet diets have many ingredients so it can be hard to pinpoint the exact one causing allergy. We can test your pet for food allergies. Another way to find out the allergy is by doing a pet food trial. This is generally done by choosing a novel protein diet, we usually recommend a prescription allergy diet, and doing a food trial for 60 to 90 days where they eat only this pet food, no treats or table scraps. If the skin clears up, then most likely they were allergic to something they were previously eating.
5.Ectoparasites other than fleas
Ectoparasites are parasites that can live on the surface of your pet’s skin. This includes ticks and lice which can be seen with the naked eye. Demodex and Sarcoptes are mites that can only be seen under the microscope. Sarcoptic mites, also known as scabies is very itchy. There are different medications that can be used to treat and repel these ectoparasites.
Make sure to bring your pet in right away if you notice itchy skin. Our veterinarians will do a thorough exam and figure out the best plan to help handle your pet’s skin. The sooner your pet is brought in, the faster we could give them relief. Many times a pet may damage their skin by licking and scratching on it causing sores that could possibly have been prevented. The medications available now for pets with allergies, is by far greater than what used to be available in the past. Your pet will thank you.