Your pet has demonstrated their limberness quite well in the last several days by torquing their body in awkward positions to reach an inconvenient itchy spot. While impressed by their yoga abilities, you are concerned about their constant itchiness. You have groomed them well, but the excessive scratching continues. The team at Emerald Animal Hospital wants to help you identify the source of your pet’s irritation.

A pet who exhibits constant excessive itching is most likely suffering from an allergy. Your pet will scratch, lick, rub, and chew almost constantly, and the uncontrollable scratching can lead to self-inflicted problems such as hair loss, skin abrasions, and crusty skin lesions. Secondary skin and ear infections caused by bacteria and yeast also are common. These infections can exacerbate your pet’s itching and may hinder the diagnosis of the underlying factor. Your pet can be affected by flea, environmental, or food allergies.

#1: Flea bite allergies in pets

When a flea bites your pet, they leave behind saliva in their skin, and elements in the saliva cause your pet to have an allergic reaction. One little flea bite is enough to initiate a serious response. Your pet’s excessive grooming may result in the removal of all fleas from their coat, so examining their bedding for fleas, flea eggs, and flea droppings is also important. If your pet is exhibiting itchiness and fleas are present, your pet likely has a flea bite allergy.

  • Step 1 Eradicate all fleas from your pet. Bathe your pet thoroughly with a medicated shampoo and use a flea comb to meticulously inspect their entire coat.
  • Step 2 Eliminate all fleas from your home. During this step, keep your now flea-free pet in a flea-free area well away from the infested region.
  • Step 3 Provide your pet protection from recurrence by administering year-round flea prevention. The team at Emerald Animal Hospital can help you determine which flea prevention plan is right for you and your pet.

#2: Environmental allergies in pets

You may be suffering from seasonal allergies right now, and your pet can react to these agents as well. Pollen, molds, dust mites, and pet dander can be problematic for your pet, but their response is itchy skin rather than sneezing and watery eyes. The term for environmental allergies in pets is atopic dermatitis.

  • Diagnosis To determine the problematic allergens, allergy testing can be performed on your pet. Blood testing is not reliable, so intradermal testing is usually the recommended course. A small amount of the suspected allergen is injected under your pet’s skin and, if a red bump arises, your pet is allergic to that allergen.
  • Treatment  Antihistamines are not effective in treating environmental allergies in pets, but several methods can help alleviate your pet’s discomfort. 
  • Medicated shampoos — You should bathe your pet frequently with a medicated  shampoo to help calm their skin and remove the allergens from their coat.
  • Steroids Steroids may be useful in the early stages to decrease severe inflammation, but should not be used long-term.
  • Anti-itch medications Several prescription, non-steroidal, anti-itch medications are available. Our team at Emerald Animal Hospital can discuss these options with you.
  • Antibiotics or anti-yeast medications If your pet has acquired a secondary skin or ear infection, they may need long-term treatment with an antibacterial or anti-yeast medication to resolve the infection.
  • Hyposensitization therapy This treatment can be effective, but may take up to six months to resolve your pet’s itchiness. Gradually increasing doses of the offending allergen are administered to your pet to help desensitize them to the problematic element.

Atopic dermatitis is not curable, and your pet will need lifelong veterinary care to prevent signs from recurring. 

#3: Food allergies in pets

If your pet is reacting to their food, the protein source is likely the offending substance. However, carbohydrates and preservatives can also be to blame. In addition to excessive itching, your pet may vomit and have diarrhea when suffering from a food allergy. Diagnosing a food allergy is not easy, and the only reliable method is a 10- to 12-week strict food trial. 

  • During the food trial, your pet will be fed a novel diet consisting of ingredients they have never ingested. Common protein sources used in novel diets include venison, duck, buffalo, and kangaroo.
  • A hydrolyzed diet can also be used in the food trial. The protein source in a hydrolyzed diet is broken down until the body no longer recognizes the element as a threat.
  • During the trial, your pet must ingest only the sanctioned foods, with no treats or flavored chews that contain the prohibited ingredients. If your pet accidentally eats a prohibited food, you will have to restart the trial.

Once your pet’s symptoms have resolved, the ingredients from their previous diet can be reintroduced to identify the substance that caused their reaction. This ingredient should then be prohibited from their diet forever.

Your pet should not have to possess impressive yoga skills. Allow our team at Emerald Animal Hospital to help alleviate your pet’s itchiness by discovering the allergen that is tormenting them. Do not hesitate to contact us to set up an appointment for your agile pet.