Does your pet scratch or lick themselves raw? Something is irritating them, and its up to you to determine if a trip to the veterinarian is in order. There are many causes as to what is irritating your pets skin, and since we are coming into spring I thought I would mention a few common causes that can cause your pets discomfort.
Allergies are one the most common ailments sited by major pet insurance companies deal with when treating cats and dogs. Much like humans, Allergens absorbed though the skin, inhaled or swallowed will cause hypersensitivity reactions in the skin, also known as "atopic dermatitis" or "atopy". Symptoms include redness in the paws, face, groin, flanks, armpits and ears, excessive licking, scratching and chewing. Since we are heading into spring, the common cause can be attributed to upgraded pollen count.
Fleas...dreaded fleas...when a flea bites, its saliva is injected into the hosts skin and acts like a potent allergen. Not sure if its fleas? you can do this simple test to rule these blood suckers out. Place your pet in the bathtub, or a counter in the sitting position. Next, rub your pets lower back and tail up and down with your fingers, if you notice flea droppings, which are basically little specks of flea digested blood from your pet, you now have a flea problem. The good news is mild infestations can be treated by your veterinarian. Heavy infestations will require that your home to be treated as well.
Food Allergies are also very common and can happen at any age. Have you recently changed your pets food? Have you noticed redness, hair loss or lesions? If you have, the only way to diagnose food hypersensitivity is by employing a strict elimination diet, which your veterinarian will be able to help you with. Food can either be prepared at home or purchased with your veterinarian. You will also need to eliminate all treats and table scraps from their diet for 10-12 weeks. Be cautious with pet foods labeled "hypoallergenic"...many of these brands have tested positive for items not suitable for diet trials. All of these probable causes to your pets itching and irritation can lead to more serious complications such as Staph Infections or Yeast Infections. If you suspect anything out of the normal, please consult your veterinarian immediately.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and as always leave on comment!