Itching of Pets

Some of the most common health problems in dogs and cats are Itching, and the scratching, biting, and licking. If your cat or dog frequently shakes head, scratch, rubs, chews, or lick some area of skin (including ears) means there’s a problem with itching, which is technically called “pruritis.” If the simple itching is left untreated then itchy skin can be damaged by the pet’s scratching, rubbing, or licking, which may also lead to “hot spots” (areas of oozing, dry or inflamed skin) or worst, it can lead to secondary infections. If you are able to find out what is causing the itch, and resolve that cause, it is very essential to your pet’s quality of life. In very general terms, itchy-skin problems in pets fall into just a few major categories: poor nutrition, infections, parasites, and allergies are the major players; but endocrine diseases, primary skin disorders, neoplasia (cancer), autoimmune, pyschogenic (mental-neurological) causes, and drug reactions may also occur. Sometimes more than one factor may be contributing to the itching all over your pet’s body.

Fleas on cats and dogs deserve a special place in the itch-causing chronicles. Bites from fleas are itchy all by themselves, but many pets develop a specific and a different kind of allergy to flea bites. This is most commonly seen as hair loss or rash at the base of the spine and tail, not to mention that the dog or cat will constantly be chewing at the area so if you notice your pet doing it then it’s time for you to take it to your vet. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is an intensely itchy allergic reaction to flea saliva that can be triggered by just a single flea bite! You may never see a flea or flea dirt on your pet (though daily flea-combing is never a bad idea!), and many people are quite confused as to how their flea-less pet can have such a severe reaction. If you live in an area where fleas are present (which includes most of the U.S. at least part of the year), always keep in mind that just one flea can cause intense itching for your pet that can last for several weeks. There are prescription veterinary flea-prevention products available, but natural flea & tick control products are safer in our opinion, and definitely worth a try before resorting to toxic pesticides.

Many animals are allergic to the same things that cause human allergies like dust, grasses, pollen, etc. While humans’ allergies tend to affect the upper respiratory system with sneezing and watery discharges like flu and tears, dogs’ and cats’ responses are more likely to involve dermatitis, or skin inflammation. While this is a major cause of pets’ itching, these allergies are not that easy to diagnose, and other causes usually need to be ruled out first. Blood and skin tests can sometimes be helpful for dogs but not that helpful for cats. Like humans, pets can also be allergic to chemical irritants like pesticide residue and household cleaning products. Allergies can be difficult to control, and almost impossible to eliminate. However, hypoallergenic diets, allergy support products for dogs and cats and some essential fatty acid supplements can be very helpful.

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