What Happens?

  • Itching and scratching can be caused for numerous reasons, but allergies are the most common cause of these symptoms.
  • There are 4 main types of allergic reactions that we see in pets:
    • Environmental Allergies - Pollens, molds, trees, grasses, dander, etc
    • Food Allergies - Allergies to one or more aspects of diet
    • Flea Allergies - Allergy to the saliva in fleas
    • Contact Allergies - Reaction to something touched against
  • Itching/scratching can lead to hair loss and trauma to the skin which can lead to infection
  • Other causes of scratching/itching include mites/mange and dry skin


What Does It Look Like?

  • Itching can be anywhere on body and often depends on cause of itching.
  • Distribution of hair loss for the different types of allergies can be telling
    • Environmental Allergies - trunk and head
    • Food Allergies - under arms/legs and on face
    • Flea Allergies - on the back towards the tail
    • Contact Allergies - depends on where allergen touched the body


What Do You Do?

  • Bathe your pet well with a shampoo that has an anti-itch such as hydrocortisone
  • OTC Benadryl can be give at 1mg/lb every 12 hours (adult benadryl is 25mg)
  • Increasing essential fatty acids (ie fish oil) with benadryl controls about 40% of cases
  • If you believe that a food allergy is the cause, you can try a diet with a novel antigen (think weird protein and starch sources such as venison and potato) but remember it takes 8 weeks of feeding the limited diet with no treats or human food to determine if the food allergy is the cause.
  • Seek a veterinarian for a dermatology workup if it persists.  Often times, infections will set in and can be as itchy as the original cause.