Blog Post

Mar 7 | Brian Heuring

Itch, scratch, repeat: How to ease your pet’s itching.

What is the main reason dogs go to the vet’s office? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cites skin aller- gies as the No. 1 trigger. Our vet clinic sees the same pattern, and we would like to help ease all pets’ suffering.

Most commonly, dogs will itch their heads and ears or even rub their backs onto various surfaces, such as carpet. Dogs often lick and chew their feet to help ease itching. Meanwhile, cats instinctively lick to cleanse themselves, but excessive licking is not routine behavior. You might even spot your pet shaking its head or chew- ing on its “armpit” area. Ears might even become a bit smelly. If you notice any of these behaviors, tell your veterinarian.

One thing I have learned from the thousands of pets I have diagnosed with allergies over the years is that it is important to inform pet owners that this could be a recurring problem for the lifetime of the pet. The good news is there are many differ- ent and inexpensive ways to diagnose and treat your pet’s discomfort.

Diagnosing your pet’s condition can most often be achieved with a thorough examination and complete history. When trying to pinpoint the exact aller- gens, veterinarians often utilize intradermal skin testing and serum allergy testing. Antihistamines, steroids and newer classes of medications are prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms. Secondary infections of the skin and ears can be treated with antibiotics and antifungal medications.

Many pet owners are surprised to learn food allergies are common for pets. After discussing your pet’s diet, a food trial can be done to figure out what your pet may be allergic to.

If you don’t have a pet with allergies, consider yourself lucky. Fortunately, there are newer medications available to help improve both the pets’ quality of life and ensure the pet owners’ ability to get a full night’s sleep, while not being disturbed by your pet’s chewing, lick- ing or scratching.