Itchy skin, or dermatitis, is one of the most common chronic conditions facing dogs and cats in the US. In fact, 1 in 5 pets who visit a vet are worried about skin disease!
Unfortunately, there are many reasons pets suffer from itchy skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and critical to your pet’s well being. It protects your pet from infections and pathogens. Dermatitis – inflammation of the skin – can quickly lead to secondary issues, causing more pain and discomfort for your dog and cat.
On top of just itching, dogs and cats with dermatitis can develop:
- Painful hotspots
- Fur loss
- Secondary infections
Skin problems can also point to deeper issues, such as diet allergies, which can have far reaching consequences for your pet’s entire health.
Why Does My Pet Have Itchy Skin?
Dogs and cats can have itchy skin for numerous reasons. It’s not always easy to diagnose why your pet is itching, but there are several common factors:
Fleas, ticks, scabes, mites and other parasites frequently cause itching. We recommend keeping pets on flea/tick prevention year round, but most especially during summer and spring. Pets with flea allergies should always be kept on flea prevention, no matter the season. Fortunately, parasites are easy to treat.
Diagnosing & Treating Parasites
Since parasites are easy to treat and one of the most common reasons for itching, we usually recommend starting treatment with a prevention.
We may also recommend a skin scrape or other diagnostics to determine what type of parasites we are dealing with. This can affect what type of prevention we recommend.
We offer several flea preventatives at our full-service clinic in Irving, TX. Bravecto takes care of fleas, ticks, mites, and scabes at only $55 for 3 months of coverage.
Staph, yeast or other types of infections are also common, usually as a secondary condition. Itchy pets can easily damage their skin by itching and biting at the affected area – developing painful hotspots that can show up overnight. These traumatized areas then quickly become infected by bacteria that lives on the skin.
Even if we remove the primary cause of the itching, we still may need to treat a secondary infection. Fortunately, infections are typically not difficult to diagnose or treat.
Diagnosing & Treating Skin Infections
Depending on the severity of the infection, we recommend treatment with antibiotics and antipuritics (such as cortisones).
Diet allergies are a bit harder to diagnose, but make up around 10 – 30% of cases in dogs and cats with skin disease. In order to identify diet as the cause for your pet’s allergies, we need to put your pet on a 8 week diet trial.
Diagnosing & Treating Diet Allergies
Depending on what food your dog is on now, we’ll develop an 8 week diet trial to see if your pet has food allergies. This includes removing not just your dog’s current dog food, but also treats and even any human food they may be eating.
If your pet improves, we can develop a new diet plan to keep your pet itch-free.
Atopic Dermatitis (Skin Allergies)
Atopic dermatitis is the second most common allergic skin disease found in dogs, but it can also be found in cats. It’s associated with allergies to the environment – pollen, plants, dander, even insects can all cause atopic dermatitis.
With atopic dogs, usually symptoms will worsen during certain seasons, but overall the condition becomes worse and can lead to other issues if not treated.
Diagnosing & Treating Atopic Dermatitis (Skin Allergies)
Currently, there is no cure for atopy. Atopic dogs face itchy skin issues their whole lives – but we can stop the itchiness with revolutionary new treatments such as Cytopoint and apoquel.