An itchy pet is constantly irritated and unable to relax; and the persistent scratching and chewing can cause open wounds. The most common causes of itchy skin are external parasites like fleas and mites, skin infections, and allergies.
By DR KELLY ZAMMIT
Allergy is when the body’s immune system overreacts after exposure to a harmless substance known as an allergen. The incidence of allergies is increasing in both humans and their pets. While humans with allergies usually have hay fever or asthma; our pets more commonly display skin problems such as redness and itching, pimples or papules, hair loss, and recurring skin or ear infections.
Pets with allergies often have secondary bacterial or fungal skin infections, which increase their level of itching and complicate the condition.
The first step in stopping the itch is a trip to the vet; they will determine whether your pet has any active bacterial or fungal infections.
The next step will be to implement a strict flea control program, including treatment of ALL the animals in your household, bedding and flooring, and the environment. You may not have seen any fleas, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
If a food allergy is suspected, your vet will advise you on a regime to identify the cause.
Your vet may take some blood and send it for examination to detect allergies to foods, insects, plants and pollens, house dust mites and mould spores. The aim is to control allergies and improve overall quality of life.
Some readily available natural therapies that can help reduce allergic itching include fish oil, green tea and pawpaw ointment.
Symptomatic drug therapy can help to reduce itching; however, without addressing the underlying cause, the itching will return. Long-term use of corticosteroids (prednisone) can result in many health problems, which is why it is preferable to diagnose the underlying cause and use more specific or less potentially harmful treatments. The best program of management that suits your pet may include the use of conventional symptomatic drug therapy, herbal remedies, dietary recommendations and supplements.
Kelly Zammit is a veterinarian at All Natural Pet Care, Russell Lea NSW