WHY IS YOUR DOG SO ITCHY? ASK THE VETERINARIANS
Do you have questions about allergic itch? We have answers.
Mark W. Hanlon, VMD
Medical Director, Owner
Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital,
Ashley Bourgeois, DVM, DACVD
Owner/Board of Directors
Animal Dermatology Clinic Portland,
WHY IS MY DOG ALWAYS SCRATCHING ITSELF?
An occasional itch may be quite normal, but it should never interrupt activities, or cause hair loss or skin damage. It also should not be often enough that it is bothersome to the owner.
COULD MY DOG’S ITCHING BE DUE TO ALLERGIES?
Yes. Frequent or constant scratching, licking, biting, scooting, and/or rubbing are most often signs of an allergic skin disease. Common allergic skin disease in dogs occurs in response to fleas, food, or environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, or dust mites. In fact, many people may not realize that dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies and irritation just like we do.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG’S ITCHING IS TOO MUCH?
Although an occasional itch may be normal, it can often be difficult to distinguish between an occasional itch and one that occurs often enough to indicate something more serious, so it’s important to rely on your dog’s body language—or your own instinct. A good rule of thumb is if your dog’s itching is disruptive to you and your dog’s life or damages your dog’s skin, chances are there may be an underlying medical problem and you should talk to your veterinarian.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY DOG’S ITCHING SEEMS TO BE MORE FREQUENT THAN NORMAL?
It’s important to get answers early—especially since continual scratching and itching can lead to additional problems, including infection. Talk to your veterinarian about safe and effective solutions.
IS REDNESS OR RASH ALONG WITH SCRATCHING A SIGN OF ALLERGIC SKIN DISEASE?
If your dog is scratching, licking, or biting the same area over and over again, the skin can become damaged, red, and develop sores. It could be a result of an underlying condition, such as allergic or atopic dermatitis. By treating the source of itch, and helping to reduce scratching behavior, skin has time to heal. That’s why it is important to treat the cause of itch early.
ARE THERE DOG ITCH TREATMENTS THAT CAN HELP?
There are safe and effective prescription medicines available that provide relief of allergic or atopic dog itch, so your itchy dog can get back to feeling better. Click here to learn more about an oral treatment. There’s also the option of an injectable treatment that lasts 4 to 8 weeks for dogs diagnosed with long-term itch. Click here to learn more.
WHAT ABOUT TOPICAL STEROIDS OR ANTIHISTAMINES FOR MY DOG’S ITCH?
While it’s common for pet owners to try home remedies and over-the-counter medicine first, these treatments rarely provide relief. This causes frustration and disappointment and sometimes side effects, like excessive drowsiness with antihistamines.12 Steroids can have undesirable side effects such as excessive drinking and panting, as well as frequent urination which can cause “accidents.”9
TREAT YOUR DOG’S ALLERGIC ITCH
If you’re ready to take charge of your dog’s allergic itch, ask your vet if one of these prescription treatments is right for you and your dog: