Blog Post

Feb 28 | Brian Heuring

Itch, scratch, repeat…how to ease your pet’s itching

What is the main reason dogs go to the vet’s office? Research by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cites skin allergies as the number one trigger. Our vet clinic sees the same pattern, and we would like to help ease your 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 chewing on its “armpit” area. Ears might even become a bit smelly. If you notice any of these behaviors, you should tell your veterinarian.

One thing I have learned from the thousands of pets I have diagnosed with allergies over the years in the Sikeston area is that it is important to inform pet owners from the very start this could be a recurring problem for the pet’s lifetime. The good news is there are many different 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 allergens, 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 often 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, licking, or scratching.