One of the most common problems a dog owner will face is that of an itchy dog. Often you won’t even know you are dealing with this issue until the sounds of nonstop licking or scratching keep you awake at night. You might find that, seemingly out of nowhere, your pet is covered in a strange looking rash and can’t stop scratching it. Skin problems are one of the most common reasons dogs are seen at the vet every day and discovering the cause can be tricky. Read on as we identify the top 3 reasons your dog might be itchy and give you the steps you can take to help them find relief.
1. Environmental Allergies
Allergies are one of the most common things you think of when you have an itchy dog, and for good reason. Dogs can have allergies to a variety of sources, but the most common are environmental. In fact, studies have found that dogs can be allergic to pollen, trees, molds, grasses, dust mites, and even humans! The challenge with environmental allergies is that dogs typically LOVE their environment and keeping them away from every possible allergy source is next to impossible.
"Studies have found that dogs can
allergic to pollen, trees, molds, grasses,
dust mites, and even humans!"
When it comes to environmental allergies, management is typically ongoing – attempting to control symptoms and treat them on an as-needed basis. If your dog experiences seasonal allergies it can help to wipe down their coat and feet when they come indoors during allergy season. There are several prescription medications available to treat allergies. Some dogs benefit from daily oral medications while others do very well with monthly or bi-monthly injections. Your Main Street Veterinarian can discuss options with you during your dog’s exam and tailor a plan that fits their needs best.
2. Food Allergies
Food allergies, while less common than environmental allergies, are still something that some dogs suffer from. If your dog suffers from food allergies, eliminating the allergen is not always as simple as switching out their brand of food. Unlike most humans, dogs are typically allergic to proteins, which can make getting rid of the allergen challenging.
"if your dog suffers from food allergies
eliminating the allergen is not always as simple
as switching out thier brand of food."
Commercial dog food is manufactured in industrial manufacturing sites with several brands and ingredients being processed on the same lines. Even if a label doesn’t include a particular protein in the ingredients, it has likely been contaminated with it through the manufacturing process. When it comes to food allergies it only takes a very small amount of an allergen to cause a reaction.
Prescription allergy foods are the best options available for ensuring cross-contamination hasn’t occurred during manufacturing. Prescription foods are available in both hydrolyzed and novel protein options. Hydrolyzed proteins are when the protein source is reduced at a molecular level to essentially make it unrecognizable to your dog’s body as the allergen.
Novel proteins are protein sources that are not commonly found in over the counter foods and, therefore, are much less likely to be the cause of your dog’s allergies. Some examples include duck and rabbit.
3. Skin Irritants
Skin irritants are another common cause of itching in dogs. Some common irritants include detergents, fabrics, plants, and insects. If your dog develops an itch that comes on suddenly and intensely, it could be related to an irritant. One of the most common causes of skin irritation in dogs is fleas. Fleas can invade your home and attack your dog before you even realize they are a problem. Once in your home, fleas can be very difficult to get rid of. Fleas will lay microscopic eggs in any fabrics, bedding, and carpets throughout your home. Once you have fleas it takes at least three full months of ongoing cleaning, vacuuming, and washing to get rid of the eggs and eliminate the lifecycle.
If your pet is sensitive to environmental irritants, there are medications and preventative steps that can help control itch. If you notice that your pet suddenly develops an itch, take inventory of any recent changes to their environment that could be a source of irritation. If you suspect fleas, call our office so we can discuss your concerns and the best course of action.
Treating a flea infestation involves either oral or topical medications or a combination of the two, in addition to thoroughly cleaning the environment. One of the best ways to prevent a flea problem is to keep your dog on monthly flea and tick control all year round.
"Treating a flea infestation involves either oral
or topical medications or a combination of the two
in addition to thoroughly cleaning the enviornement."
When it comes to itchiness in dogs, there can be several causes, and finding the best solution is sometimes a challenge. It is always helpful to seek the advice of your dog’s Main Street Veterinarian and start with an exam if your pet seems itchy so we can help find the best treatment. Whether it be from allergies, an irritant, or their food, every dog and situation is unique. Our doctors will be able to evaluate your dog and find the solution that works best for your family.
PERKIOMENVILLE 1335 N. Gravel Pike, Perkiomenville, PA 18074 Telephone: 610-287-5100
SOUDERTON 201 North Main Street, Souderton, PA 18964 Telephone: 215-660-3699