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Does Your Pet Have The Itchies? 

March 1 2024

Do you regularly notice your pet scratching themselves, or rubbing up against things—including you? Does your four-legged buddy nudge you to scratch them and then react like they’re in seventh heaven when you oblige? Itching is typically a pretty annoying source of discomfort for both humans and animals. While the occasional itch is natural, constant itching indicates a problem. Of course, before you can solve the issue, you’ll need to determine why your fuzzy pal is itching. A local Philadelphia, MS veterinarian provides some insight on this below.

When Should I Begin Worrying About My Pet’s Itching?

Your pet can’t tell you when it’s time to take them to the doctor, so you’ll need to look for signs that there’s more going on than just a random itchy spot. Persistent itching is the most obvious indicator, but there are other signs to check for as well.

Here are some of the major ones:

  • Red skin
  • Lesions
  • Ear discharge or discolored wax
  • Shaking or pawing at the head, face, or ears
  • Obsessively licking or biting a certain spot
  • Scratching/chewing themselves
  • Fur loss
  • Flea filth
  • Licking the feet
  • Discolored skin
  • Flaking and Scabbing
  • Swelling
  • Pustules, pimples, lesions, or abscesses

If you spot any of these, contact your Philadelphia, MS veterinarian right away.

What Causes Itchiness In Pets?

Itchiness can occur for a variety of reasons. Some are pretty easy to recognize. For example, if you find flea dirt—or worse, actual live fleas—in your pet’s coat, you may probably presume he or she has fleas. Others, however, may be more difficult to resolve.

Here are the most prevalent causes for itching in pets:

Parasites

Parasites are not at the top of this list due to their popularity. They’re actually the most common cause of the itchies. Fleas are, of course, the primary culprits here. While tick bites do not often itch, certain pets will react to tick saliva. Remember that fleas and ticks can both transmit dangerous diseases, and can also carry other parasites. Keep up with your furry friend’s preventative care!

We’re not done with parasites yet; mites can also cause irritation. There are various types of mites. Ear mites, as you might expect, live in pets’ ear canals and cause severe irritation. You may notice that your four-legged friend keeps shaking their head. Sarcoptic mites cause mange—also known as scabies—in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, individuals can contract them. Next, we have Demodex mites, which burrow beneath the skin. 

Stress

Animals, like humans, can experience stress and anxiety. Your beloved animal friend may not be concerned about inflation or worrying if you will complete that report on time, but they can definitely get nervous about stuff. Major changes are a major source of worry for pets. Boredom, loneliness, discomfort, and conflict with other pets are among more possibilities. Overgrooming is a frequent way for pets to cope with distress. This is comparable to obsessive behaviors in humans, such as nail biting or leg bouncing. Overgrooming in pets can cause hair loss, making them more prone to skin infections. Kitties sometimes react by undergrooming, which can also cause issues.

If your Philadelphia, MS veterinarian clears your fuzzy pal for medical causes, try doing things to reduce stress and anxiety. Toys and playing are frequently the top recommendations. Medication and behavior change could also assist. If the issue is strife with another pet, reach out to a professional behaviorist. 

Fungal Infections

Next on the list are fungal illnesses. These take numerous forms, none of which are particularly pleasant. Dogs with skin folds or floppy ears are prone to yeast infections. Another probable cause is ringworm, which is actually a fungus. You may also notice a rash, crusty or scaly skin, redness, and, in some circumstances, an unpleasant odor.

Topical medicine can effectively treat many fungal infections. This, of course, must be prescribed by your veterinarian. Book an appointment as soon as possible. You’ll also need to be vigilant about cleanliness and treatment to ensure that the problem is completely resolved.

Bacterial Infections

While all of these causes are concerning, bacterial infections might be the most serious. These rarely go away on their own. They are generally caused by wounds or scratches that break the skin. These can also result in peeling, redness, swelling, and pustules. Take your four-legged buddy to the vet right away if you think they may have a bacterial infection. Treatment options vary, but might involve topical medicine, antibiotics, and other products.

Allergies

Allergies are unpleasant for both humans and pets. They can elicit a wide range of symptoms, including itching. Other indicators of a reaction include red, runny eyes, sneezing, snoring, skin irritation, and upset stomach.

As with humans, allergies in pets can be classified into several groups. 

Seasonal Allergies are often associated with grass, pollen, and specific plants or leaves. Mold and dust mites may also cause allergic reactions in pets. 

Food Allergies are a completely different ballgame. These occur when a pet’s body recognizes a specific type of food—typically a protein found in chicken or beef—as a ‘invader’ and responds accordingly. The difficult thing about food allergies is often determining the precise allergen. You may need to put your dog or cat on a very plain diet until the symptoms subside. Then, begin reinstating things one by one to determine what causes the reaction. This should only be done with the supervision of your veterinarian.

Then there’s Contact Dermatitis. As the name implies, contact dermatitis is a skin irritation induced by direct touch with a substance or material. It is frequently associated with red, inflammatory, and/or flaky skin. You may also experience hair loss, skin discoloration, and tiny pimples or pustules.

The list of likely culprits is rather long. Contact dermatitis can be caused by the following:

  • Plants 
  • Detergents
  • Mulch 
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Soaps
  • Materials (Rugs, fabrics, plastics, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Chemicals
  • Fertilizers for lawns and gardens

Contact dermatitis can cause considerable discomfort in pets. While home cures, such as an oatmeal soak, may be helpful in some circumstances, we strongly advise you to call your veterinarian immediately. This is not always a medical emergency, but there is a risk of infection if the problem persists. Plus, your four-legged buddy will be suffering until they obtain relief!

Dry Skin

Dry skin is another possibility. Itching in animals is not always the result of complicated medical conditions or allergic reactions. Sometimes it’s simply dry skin! Environmental factors frequently come into play here. Winter’s dry air frequently causes dry, itchy skin in both humans and animals. Using the incorrect grooming products can also result in this. Pets have extremely sensitive skin.

Make sure your pet is well hydrated. A healthy diet is also vital here. Fatty acid-rich foods can help maintain your pet’s skin and coat healthy and nourished.

How Can I Prevent My Pet from Itching?

Many things can assist in relieving itching in pets. Medication, antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics, and prescription shampoos are some of the available options. Your veterinarian may also recommend an oatmeal bath or a special oil, like coconut or olive oil. However, it’s crucial to choose the proper strategy. That is why we always recommend scheduling a visit with your veterinarian.

Conclusion: A variety of factors can cause itching in pets, including parasites, allergies, and stress. While itching can be managed, it is critical to visit your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

Has your pet been itchy recently? Do you have to schedule grooming? Contact your Philadelphia, MS veterinarian clinic now!

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