- 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.