Bite, Scratch, Chew, Roll and moan on their backs. These are all things that owners see when their beloved dog or cat is ITCHY! Does it seem like they only do this at bedtime, or when you're trying to watch a movie. Even better, you wake up to the sounds in the middle of the night. “How can I get my dog to stop scratching and chewing on himself?” These are common questions that owners ask and they want a fix NOW!
Itchy pets can be caused by a hundred different reasons. The good thing is we can at least break those down into 6 categories. Which as an owner, that still seems like a lot. Making a plan to stop the itch is different for each category. Let's take a look at these categories.
Keep in mind, there are textbooks about each category that go into depth on how they may cause your pet to itch. As an owner, you just want your pets to stop scratching, biting or chewing on themselves. We understand that. As a veterinary clinic, we also have to make sure there is an understanding that it can be a long journey to stop the itch forever.
Yes, there are medications you can give your pets to stop the itch, in this moment. Finding the reason why pets are itching can be frustrating to the owner and also for the veterinary team. Every owner has tried to fix the itch at home. And as you see it can be hard to treat if you don’t know where to start.
Here are some tips to help you decide what can be done at home and when you may need more integrated help.
- Make sure your pet’s living area is not too dry. A humidifier in the area may help prevent the skin from drying out especially in the winter.
- When bathing, use gentle shampoos and conditioners. Some shampoos can be harsh on pet's skin and dry out their skin.
- Also make sure they have a good quality food and add a probiotic into the diet to help with better absorption of nutrients. Omega Fatty Acids can also be added if your pet has dry skin.
- Have a flea and tick prevention on board your pet. (Many pets are allergic to fleas saliva.)
- Make sure that your pet gets enough exercise and mental stimulus throughout the day.
- If none of these help...or make it worse(?!), talk to your veterinarian. You need to find the root cause to the itch.
Finding the cause may be simple and easily fixed by treating the infection or parasite that is causing the itch. It also can be complex if it is environmental, nutritional, allergic or neurogenic. Plus there could also be a combination of these. You may have an infection that was started by nutritional allergic reaction or it could be parasites started by an infested environment. Ok, you get the point there could be a mixed reason why your pet itches. We’re back to the hundred reasons your dog is itchy. So what can your veterinary team do to help stop the itch?
It starts off simple. A basic exam of your pet. The veterinary team is trained to look for changes in the skin and how it appears, feels and smells. From that information, they start diagnostic tests to give them the most information to help stop the itch. And based on that information they can prescribe a treatment plan to stop the itch. Sometimes there are several reasons for the itch and it may take more efforts to figure out the cause. If it’s environmental, it may be something you have to treat for life or during a certain season. Once the root cause has been diagnosed. The treatment may take a couple weeks or could be longer depending how long your pet has been suffering.
For being something we all think is so simple; skin is very complex and lets us all know when it is unhealthy by losing hair, turning colors, or becoming dry or oily. Itching always seems to come along for the ride to grab ALL of our attention.