If your pet is exhibiting itchiness, allergies could be the cause. Or is it? Here are five questions you should answer:
Is My Pet on Flea Control?Before pursuing extensive (and expensive) diagnostics, consider if ALL pets in the household are on flea prevention. If not, start there. In many cases, owners don't notice fleas, because they aren't being bitten — that's because they're biting your pet. Flea control should include both pets AND environment.
Is My Pet Wormed Regularly?Both internal and external parasites can cause your pet to itch. We may wish to run a fecal exam and/or skin scrapes to look for parasites.
Does My Pet Itch All Year?If so, consider home environment and food. Statistically speaking, very few pets have a food allergy — but it's worth ruling out. If a food trial is suggested, remember, NOTHING ELSE goes into the pet's mouth except the recommended diet. Heartworm prevention will need to be topical. Commit to 3 months before calling it quits.
Does My Pet Have an Infection or Underlying Disease?Blood tests and/or skin cultures or biopsies may be recommended to rule out an infection or disease.
Is My Pet Allergic to Something?Many pets are. Consider allergy testing to identify the source and subsequent immunotherapy to help manage the outbreaks. This doesn't work for everyone, but it does work for the majority of cases.
In the mean time, here's what you can do to sooth your pet's itchy skin:
- Bathing! Baths aren't bad and may be the best thing to take away the itch when used appropriately. A medicated bath may be advised. Remember, use 'luke-cool' water (hot water makes 'em itch more) and let the shampoo sit for several minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
- Antibiotics or antifungals may be needed if infection is present.
- Omega fatty Acids (aka fish oil) when added to the diet may be anti-inflammatory. Remember, not all supplements are created equal. Consider Eicosaderm or Welactin.
- Anti-itch medications — like steroids or antihistamines — may help take away the itch for a short period of time. This should be considered a temporary fix, but may be used long-term in some situations.
- Alternative therapies — depending on the condition, other therapies may be recommended.
Remember... we can't cure your pet's allergies, but we can manage them!