Itchy skin can cause absolute chaos and really affect your dog’s quality of life. One of the most common and frustrating ‘itchy skin’ conditions we see in dogs is atopic dermatitis. This inflammatory condition is caused by a reaction to allergens in the environment (a bit like the common triggers of asthma and hay fever in humans). It is particularly troublesome in spring and summer but can occur all year round.
Allergens that might cause a problem include: grasses, trees, plant pollen, dust mites, insects, and moulds.
The signs associated with atopic dermatitis generally consist of itching, scratching, rubbing, biting, and licking. They usually appear when your dog is between 1 and 6 years of age.
Common sites your dog may be itchy:
- Ears (recurrent ear infections are common)
- The feet and in between the toes
- The armpits
- The groin and anal glands
- Around the eyes
The itching quickly leads to self-trauma of the skin which causes secondary infections that require medication.
Diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis relies on a good history of your dog’s symptoms and a thorough physical examination. It is essential that all potential parasitic causes and food allergies are ruled out. Your dog may also undergo further allergy testing and these results can be used to formulate a unique desensitizing allergy vaccine.
The good news is that there are some exciting new immunotherapy drugs available that have minimal side effects, and can greatly improve your dog’s comfort and quality of life.
Our top skin care tips for your pet
When it comes to managing the itchy pet, there is no magic pill. It’s all about prevention of parasites and taking action before things get out of control. Here are our top tips for healthy skin:
1. Be vigilant with flea treatment all year round for all pets in your family. Fleas are THE major cause of an itchy pet and regular use of a flea treatment is easier and cheaper than trying to get rid of the itch. Ask us for the best flea treatment available for your pet, including those that provide protection for a few months at a time.
2. A premium diet balanced is essential to keep your pet’s skin and coat in top shape. This will provide a good barrier against potential allergens – ask us for a recommendation.
3. Always wash your dog in pet-approved shampoo and conditioner. A product containing ceramides can help rebuild the epidermal barrier and reduce allergen exposure – ask us for more information.
4. Medication to help reduce the immune system’s response to the allergen can greatly reduce an itch and these can be used during flare-ups and for ongoing management – we can provide you with more information so chat with us about what’s suitable for your pet.
5. And finally, if you notice your pet is itching, licking, biting, or rubbing, you should arrange a check up with us ASAP. The sooner we settle the itch, the less likely your pet is to cause self trauma and secondary skin infections.
If you have an itchy pet at your house it is best arrange an appointment with us. We will help keep your pet happy, healthy and comfortable.