The Itchies and Scratchies

The warmer weather means the fleas are up and ready to bite; our pets are outside in the garden; and their winter coats are shedding. All good reasons to get itchy and scratchy. Make sure their flea treatment is up-to-date and give them a good groom. But what if they’re still itching or their skin is looking red or inflamed, or worse, and your pet is in discomfort? First book an appointment with your vet. Don’t jump to conclusions about what is causing your pet’s itchy skin.

Allergies are a common cause of skin conditions in dogs and cats. The main difference between us and pets is that they tend to get skin conditions, rather than runny eyes and noses. Itching, scratching, chewing, biting, licking, or rubbing the skin can all be signs. There are three main types of allergies related to skin conditions in our pets. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), Food Allergy and Atopy. A pet may have one or a combination of these conditions.Fleas are a common cause of skin allergies, especially in cats. Even if you do not see fleas on your pet, treating year round is vital for any pet with FAD.

The least common cause of skin allergies is food allergy. The vast majority are caused by an allergic reaction to proteins. Most of the symptoms involve itchy skin, but can also cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Gastrointestinal signs are more common in cats. Determining a food allergy can be complex and requires consultation with your vet. It is estimated that up to 15% of dogs have atopy, a genetic predisposition to react to allergens such as pollen, house dust and mites, mould, grasses, trees and shrubs. The allergens can be inhaled, pass through the pads of the feet and even ingested. Preventing exposure to these allergens is extremely difficult. Atopy tends to be progressive with each allergy season.

Allergies can be hard to control and are chronic in nature. This can be very frustrating for pet owners. It’s vital to see your vet, get a proper diagnosis and get started on the appropriate therapy early.

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