Vet Blog

Let's Talk Itchy Pets

August 19, 2020

It's summertime; the heat is extreme.

Humidity is high. Oh, and there's a pandemic. Some common problems and one that we haven't dealt with before.

But I forgot one super common - itchy pets.

Itchiness (pruritis) is most common in the warm months of the year. Starting in spring, dog and cat allergies explode and some pets suffer year-round. Pruritis is probably the most common malady we see in the summer.

What is the cause of these allergies? Three main things: Fleas, Inhaled Allergens, and Food Allergies.

Flea allergies are extremely common. Dogs and cats develop true allergies to flea saliva and therefore do not have to be covered in fleas to be super itchy. Today, we have so many safe, convenient, and effective flea meds. All pets should be on flea medications if possible.

Inhaled allergen (atopy) is also extremely common. When we inhale pollen (or dust mites or molds) we get sinus disease, but our pets get itchy skin. Atopy is probably the most common, due to the great flea control products available.

Food allergies are much more uncommon and more difficult to diagnose. The only way to determine for sure if this is the cause is to do elimination food trials.

Itchiness can be a horrible condition. Pets can self-mutilate. Secondary infections occur from self-trauma (like scratching and chewing the skin) and often require additional treatments. Owners report not being able to sleep because of the dog scratches all night.

These conditions are something we manage, typically not something we cure. And they are recurring. They are frustrating and require a lot of homework. But compared to a few years ago, we now have safe and effective medication for most pets!