Traveling Dog Lady: A to Z Challenge: I is for Itchy Pets

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A to Z Challenge: I is for Itchy Pets

All dogs and cats have an occasional itch, just like people.  But when you have a pet whose itchiness becomes chronic, habitual, or nearly constant that is something to worry about.

There are a multitude of reasons for itching in dogs and cats.  The first one that comes to most people's mind immediately is:  bugs!  Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes.  YUCK!  For this conundrum, you need both preventative measures and post-bite treatment measures (in case the preventative doesn't work).  We use veterinarian-prescribed drops that we put between the shoulder blades of all the pets.  I do not like using this stuff, at all.  However, we live in an area that is overrun with fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.  We have tried non-prescription drops (I don't trust them and refuse to use them on my beloved critters); we've tried all-natural things from herbals to things like sprays made from cloves and other non-prescription/non-chemical products.  In our particular case, the only thing that works to practically "guarantee" fleas, ticks and mosquitoes will stay away are the Rx drops from the vet.  I'm not happy about that, but that's the way it is around here.

Thanks Mom, we're not itchy anymore!

Another reason for itching could be contact dermatitis such as from a dog or cat lying on the floor after it has been washed, or on a carpet that was cleaned with carpet cleaning products that are not hypo-allergenic, washing bedding with a harsh detergent, or lying on a lawn, sand, or dirt that carries treatment chemicals or just sand or dirt itself.  The best treatment for this is to eliminate the offending material that the animal is coming in contact with, or the product that is being used.  Bathe the pet, and start all over.  Human OTC Benadryl or similar can be given to dogs, with the human dosage adjusted for the dogs weight.  I am not sure if Benadryl can be used for cats.  Ask your veterinarian.  There are canine and feline versions of Benadryl/allergy medications available as well.

The "biggie" (for me) was one that took me by surprise about five years ago, when Hobie's skin turned red and all his hair on his back and tailbone area fell out, he licked his legs until they were raw and red, and he licked off fur in other areas of his body that he could reach.  He spent hours and hours chewing and scratching and licking... he was miserable, and so were we!!  We couldn't figure out what was causing this, and we took him to the vet right away.  Our vet took one look at him and asked what we feed Hobie.  At the time, I fed high-quality food, as I always have.  The vet said Hobie was exhibiting classic grain allergy symptoms and suggested we try grain-free dog food.  We did, and within days Hobie's skin cleared up, his fur started to grow back, he stopped licking, chewing and scratching himself, and he even had more energy and seemed happier.  He was sick with a food allergy!  I had absolutely no idea, until then, that a food allergy would cause all that itching and scratching.

If your pet is itching and scratching, don't delay.  Get help from your vet, and take care of the problem right away.  No pet should suffer with itching and scratching in the 21st century, with all the various remedies available.