This is one of the most (if not THE most) common presenting complaints we see in the Veterinary profession. Your pet can be itchy for a lot of reasons and it is important to talk to your vet to find our which is the most common for your animal. Here are some tips for each itch and what to do about it.
There are many animals with food allergies, just like their owners. And just like their owners, it is the ingredient that they are allergic to and not the quality or preparation of the food. You can buy the most expensive, good quality dog food or even make them home-cooked meals but they will have a reaction if you are using ingredients they are allergic to. Think about a child that is allergic to peanuts, whether they eat a peanut butter sandwich or a peanut they found under the couch, if they are allergic, they will have a reaction either way.
Sign of possible food allergies are:
- Soft stools
- Upset stomach
- Itchy ears
- Itchy bum
- Pawing at face
Common food allergies in dogs are:
So how do you choose the right food? The goal is to find a food with a protein they have never had before. Similar to products in the human market that so not contain peanuts but are made in the same facility as other products like peanuts, all the food in the pet store has a chance of contamination with other foods in the facility, which makes it very hard to find the right food for your pet. Please call your veterinarian to discuss a diet that works best for your pet.
Seasonal VS. Environmental Allergies.
Dogs with environmental allergies usually get itchy at the same time every year. The season may change depending what they are allergic to but it will likely be around the same time of year, every year. This trend usually starts early on in life. If you have a 10-year-old dog that has been in the same town or even the same yard for its whole life and suddenly becomes itchy, it is less likely to be something in the environment. The most common places to be itchy for dogs with environmental allergies are the paws and the belly because that’s what is contacting the allergens the most. Your dog may need to come in and get anti-itch medications to get them through the itchy season. You can also wash your pet with a medicated shampoo from the clinic or try cool water (not warm) to remove the pollen and soothe the skin. If none of this is working, there are veterinary dermatologists that can do allergy testing and help you determine what your pet is allergic to. Based on the information from the test, they can formulate an injection that will help with the allergies.
When I picture an itchy dog, the first thing I think of is fleas. Fleas and mites can be brought to your yard on wildlife. They can make your pet very itchy and uncomfortable. Even if you don’t see fleas on your pet, that doesn’t mean they can’t have them. Only 5% of the flea infestation is visible (Adult fleas). 95% of the infestation is larvae, pupae and eggs in your carpet and around your home. The best way to treat this infestation is with a topical medication form the vet that is applied to your pets’ skin once a month for at least three months (or monthly as a preventative in the warmer months to rescue the risk of infestation). There is also a chewable tablet available for some cases. The medication is the most important aspect of treatment but the home must also be vacuumed and bedding must be washed thoroughly throughout treatment. Please call your vet if you think your pet has fleas.
The bottom line is that you are not alone. If your pet is itchy, licking or uncomfortable there are a lot of options to determine the case. Please call your veterinary healthcare team if you have an itchy pet and would like some relief for both your pet and your family.