Itching Dogs and a few itching cats. That I what I am seeing every day right now. Recently I spoke with a veterinary dermatologist and she told me that due to the flooding this year,it is one of the worst years she has ever seen for allergies and itching. All the molds, fungus and other allergens are driving our four legged friends, and I’m sure two legged also, crazy. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as giving the dog a pill or a shot. Most of the time the dog has allergies that will require lifelong therapy.
Dogs basically get three types of allergies: They can have flea bites allergy, food or inhalant (atopy) allergy.
When a dog has flea allergies, most of the time they chew at themselves predominantly at the base of their tails although they can focus on other places. This allergy is the simplest to treat and prevent. You remove the fleas and stop the itching. Problem solved! A short course of steroids and topical medication is the most common method.
Food allergies result from a dog being allergic to the protein or carbohydrate contained in their diet. This results in them mainly itching at their feet and abdomen. There are many new types of diets available that have different proteins. Treatment involves finding a protein source that does not cause a reaction by the dog’s immune system. You can find foods that have protein from fish, lamb and even kangaroo. Sometimes even these diets don’t work and we have to try a type of food where the protein comes pre-digested. Often relief can be achieved with steroids, shampoos or creams but these are just temporary fixes and not something you want to do for the life of the dog.
Atopy is just what you would expect an inhalant allergy to be. The dog inhales an allergen such as pollen or mold. You would sneeze, but dogs itch. With atopy, dogs itch predominantly at their feet and abdomen but if it is severe enough they can itch all over. Some dogs with atopy only have problems at certain times of the year. This is a seasonal allergy and late summer and fall are usually the worst times for these. Atopy can be the most difficult allergy to treat because you first have to determine which allergen or allergens affect the dog. This can be done through blood or skin testing. Again, temporary relief can be achieved with steroids, shampoos and creams.
Other reasons for a dog to itch are mites, ear infections, skin infections and drug reactions but these are much less common than the allergies described above. Only your veterinarian will be able to tell you what is exactly going on.
Cats can also have problems that result in itching but it is not nearly as common. Cats often itch because they have fleas, skin infections or ear infections. Again, see your veterinarian if your cat is having problems.