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Why is my Pet Itching?

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So why is your pet so itchy? This can be a very annoying thing for your animal as well as the owners. The main concern is that they seem uncomfortable, they itch and itch and roll around and scratch themselves up. Their skin will often appear red, dry and scabbed. And the worst thing is that it mainly occurs when you’re trying to relax or sleep. Yes, I know your furry friend sleeps in your bed. So here’s a list of the most common causes of itching and what can be done to make your pet more comfortable.

Fleas- These nasty little buggers are very itchy and irritating to pets. Most pets areallergic to their saliva sending off a whole cascade of allergic reactions and discomfort. Even if your pet is on flea prevention, they can still be bit by a flea and common preventions can to up to 2 hours to kill them off.

So what do I do to prevent fleas?

  • The #1 thing is to get your pet on effective flea prevention and apply it every 30 days. Common over the counter flea medications may be ineffective secondary to fleas developing resistance to common, older products. Also owners need to use caution because certain products can be toxic to cats. See your veterinarian for their recommendations on the best medication for your pet.
  • Make sure that all of the pets in your house- even indoor only cats- are on prevention.
  • If you are having a flea issues, make sure that you clean your environment by vacuuming, cleaning the floors, washing dog beds and blankets on a regular basis. You may also need to have your yard sprayed to stop the fleas from jumping on your pet outside.
  • Note: Flea dips only work to remove the fleas on your pet at that moment in time-they are ineffective at keeping fleas away.
  • Environmental allergies– A lot of dogs can be allergic to various allergens within theirhome or yard. These allergies can range from dust to grass to even human dander.

So how do I know if my dog has environmental allergies?

-A helpful way to determine if this may be a cause is to think about when they started itching. Have they always been itchy no matter what the season? Or did it just begin?

  • If it just started, think about if there have been any changes in your home. Something as simple as new laundry detergent may be the culprit.
  • Just like in humans, allergy testing can be performed to help determine if your pet has allergies and what the cause is.
  • If it is something that the pet will always be exposed to then allergy injections may be in order.

There are also some great prescription products on the market to help decrease your dogs itching- so be sure to see your veterinarian for recommendations.

Food allergies– Oh food allergies… There is a lot of controversy out there about whatis actually causing pets to be allergic to their food. Pet owners are led to believe that it is the grain in the diet- which is INCORRECT. While on the rare occasion a pet may be allergic to grains, the most common cause of a food allergy is actually the protein source (such as chicken, beef, lamb….).

So how can you help your pet if they have a food allergy?

  • Numerous over the counter product contain “novel” protein sources- a type of protein that your pet has never eaten before. These can be helpful, but be aware that over the counter food are produced in factories where all sorts of food are made. Therefore, they are often contaminated with other protein sources when they’re processed.
  • The most effective food to try is a prescription diet recommended by your vet.
  • These can be expensive and take time to work, but if your pet has a food allergy they can save you a lot of money down the road treating issues that arise from eating a food they’re allergic to.

Action Steps to take now to help decrease the itch:

  1. Schedule an appointment to see your vet
  2. Give you pet a bath with an oatmeal or hypoallergenic shampoo
  3. Clean your house and wash your pets bedding

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