The Itch of it.

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It is very easy for pet owners to misdiagnose their pets when seeing them itching and scratching…index

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Most pet owners will suspect a flea or tick infestation, but to be honest there can be so many other reasons.

Just like people, our pets can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognise certain everyday substances as  dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, some pets can develop allergies to them during their life span. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or come into contact with your pet’s skin. As your pet’s body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear. Our pets can be allergic to almost anything in their environment. Examples of these can be: Ingredients in food, flea bites, pollen, mould spores, dust mites, etc.


Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin; increased scratching; itchy, runny eyes; itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy); itchy ears and ear infections; sneezing; vomiting; diarrhoea; paw chewing/swollen paws; and constant licking. If any of the above symptoms occur, visit your TAH vet. After taking a complete history and conducting a physical examination, your vet may be able to determine the source of your dog’s allergic reaction. If not, your vet will most probably recommend skin or blood tests.


Once the skin allergy has been determined, prevention is the best treatment. Start a flea control programme for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your TAH vet for advice about the best flea control products for your pet and their environment.

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If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum whenever possible. Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your pet’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.


If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, he or she will need to be put on an exclusive prescription diet. Once the allergy is determined your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet.


Since certain substances cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic reaction. Antihistamines can be used but may only benefit a small percentage of pets with allergies, so ask your vet first what the safest option is. Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your pet’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies When working together with your TAH vet, you will be able to alleviate your pet’s discomfort and help them live a comfortable and happy life. It may mean a little extra effort on your part as the owner, but at the end of the day a happy pet equals a happy home.

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