A: Springtime! We are all itching to get outside. The problem is, in the spring, your pet may be itching because he or she WENT outside. Let me explain. In the spring the trees are budding, the grass is growing, the flowers are blooming, and dogs are rolling! Many of these long-awaited beauties of nature can bring with them pollens, and loads of them! People tend to sneeze, cough, have watery eyes and feel miserable if they are irritated by pollens. Dogs especially tend to itch if they are sensitive to the environment. The sensitivity can lead to inflammation (redness of the skin) lesions (sore areas) and possible secondary infections caused by bacteria or yeast.
There are many other causes of skin irritation in dogs so we must be careful not to blame all itching on the environment. Parasites like fleas or mites such as demodex or scabies can cause intense scratching behavior in dogs and cats. If an animal has a hypersensitivity to a certain food, this may cause itching as well. Often the pet may be sensitive to one or more things. Your dog may even be allergic to you! Don’t take it personally, pets can be allergic to us just as we can be allergic to them.
What can be done about your itching dog? First please take your pet to your veterinarian. The doctor will need to make sure your dog does not have an external parasite. He or she will check for mites by performing a simple test called a skin scraping, and may also do cytology on the skin. This test looks for yeast or bacteria on the surface of your pet’s skin. After these diagnostic steps your dog’s vet will make treatment recommendations, which may include topical treatments such as shampoos and anti-itch conditioners. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are prescribed more frequently and are a great supplement to your dog’s diet. A different food may also be recommended. There are exciting new products to stop itch in its tracks. Your veterinarian can discuss these options with you.
Most of all you need to have patience. Dermatological issues are not always easy to solve. Itching is very uncomfortable for the pet, aggravating to the owner because the incessant chewing and licking can keep the family awake at night and it can be frustrating for the veterinarian who is trying his or her best to get to the bottom of the itch. Work together with your pet’s veterinarian, be patient and be positive.
Please call your veterinarian if you have other questions regarding an itchy pet. This article has only scratched the surface!
To learn more about your pet’s health, visit The Animals Hospitals at Bideawee in Manhattan or Westhampton. Make an appointment today by calling 866-262-8133.