The month of August is known as Itchy Pet Awareness Month, which aims to promote dog and cat skin health and your pet’s health and happiness. While commonly overlooked, itching is a medical condition that requires a proper diagnosis to effectively treat the true cause of the itch.
Why is My Pet Itching?
Dogs and cats usually come in contact with irritants by inhaling from the air or by direct contact with the skin. They may also develop allergies or sensitivities to food or treats in their diet. Some common outdoor allergens include parasites like fleas, ticks, lice or mites, insects, pollens, or even chemicals on lawns. Common indoor allergens include dust mites, molds, mildew, as well as household cleaners, detergents, and other products. Some pets may develop allergies that come and go with the seasons. Learn more about Seasonal Allergies in Dogs and Cats on our other blog.
Look Out for the Common Signs of Itch In Dogs and Cats:
Scratching is the most obvious sign of itch
Recurrent ear problems
If the scratching becomes intense, your dog or cat may damage their skin while trying to relieve the sensation. As a result, this can leave the skin with open wounds, and vulnerable to infections and the potential for hotspots. You may also notice hair loss, scabbing, and crusting due to excessive scratching, chewing, or rubbing. Because the symptoms of allergies are similar to other disorders, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian if you notice these behaviors.
How Do I Relieve My Pet’s Itching?
Consulting your veterinarian is important to determine the true cause of the itch and what treatment can best help your pet. Your veterinarian may prescribe an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve your pet’s symptoms. They may also recommend bathing with a medicated shampoo to wash allergens away from the skin and reduce irritation.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease and is purely educational. Please seek advice from your pet’s veterinarian with any questions regarding the health of your pet.
Winter’s cold weather and low humidity conditions can cause your skin to become dry and uncomfortable. This also affects dogs and cats, despite their layer of fur for protection. In fact, winter skin and coat problems are a common concern for pet owners. Indoor heating can dry out the air and circulate allergens throughout your home. Just as you may take extra steps to keep your skin healthy when the weather turns cool, we’ve put together some tips for your pets too.
Dogs and cats grow their own winter coat, but this does not mean they are always protected from frostbite and skin injury. The most vulnerable areas to frostbite are on paw pads, ears, and tail. Learn more about the signs of frostbite. Monitor weather conditions closely and limit your pet’s time outdoors especially during wind chill, extreme cold, and other winter weather warnings. Snow and ice can cut paws, so before going for walks, keep paw pads hydrated and protected with a spray or balm. When you return home, wipe their paws to remove any potentially toxic or irritating substances like salt, ice melt products, and antifreeze.
Make sure your home is comfortable for you and your pets all winter long by controlling the humidity levels. If you have a forced-air or central furnace system, it will emit dry heat throughout your home. This low humidity environment quickly dries out the skin, nasal passages, and causes static electricity shocks. To combat dry air, try using a humidifier and fixing cold air drafts.
Allergies may burden your dog or cat throughout the warm weather, but during the winter months, pets usually spend most of their time inside your home. Dust mites and mold are common indoor allergens that are triggered in the colder months. If it’s already dry, continual scratching from allergies and irritants can damage your pet’s skin and make them prone to other skin problems or infections. While they cannot survive freezing temperatures outdoors, fleas can thrive indoors during winter. Consider using preventatives all year long to keep your pet from being bitten.
Diet & Nutrition
If your dog’s skin is easily dry or irritated during winter, talk to your veterinarian about trying a special diet or incorporating supplements. Omega fatty acids are important for healthy skin. Poor nutrition, including low levels of dietary protein and essential fatty acids, can also cause a dull hair coat.
Grooming & Bathing
In the winter, try reducing the number of baths you give to your dog or cat. Soaps and shampoos can strip the natural skin oils causing flaky, itchy skin. Instead, use a moisturizing or waterless shampoo. You may also try bathing wipes for spot cleaning. Regular brushing also helps encourage blood circulation and distributes natural oils to help moisturize the skin.
VetRxDirect offers a variety of products to meet your dog or cat’s skincare needs throughout every season. Check out these top picks for winter:
Dermallay is a gentle shampoo designed to relieve irritated skin. It contains ceramides to restore and repair damaged skin. It also includes colloidal oatmeal and safflower oil to soothe itching and hydrate dryness. Dermallay is soap-free is ideal for pets with sensitive skin or those with allergies. Leave on the Spray Conditioner for additional moisturizing.
O3 Omega features high potency essential fatty acids EPA and DHA from wild-caught fish oil. It includes vitamins A, D, and E. It helps promote healthy skin and coat as well as immune and joint health. Giving O3 Omega to your dog or cat is easier since it comes in a variety of options including capsules, clip tips, liquid, soft chews, and mini bites.
PawTector is a wax barrier for use in protecting your dog’s paw pads from the elements, such as ice, snow, and hot asphalt and pavement. PawTector can also protect against rough surfaces such as sand, rocks, stone, concrete, or salt. PawTection is water-resistant making it ideal for winter skin hydration and for protecting the paws.
Hylagroom Mousse is a waterless, soap-free cleanser for dogs and cats with sensitive skin and coats. It features a hypoallergenic and pH balanced formula that gently cleans and hydrates. Hylagroom contains ceramides and essential fatty acids to moisturize dry and irritated skin and reinforce the natural skin barrier.
Does your dog always have that itch that he can’t quite scratch? Do they have allergies that cause them to constantly lick and chew with no relief? It’s normal to have an itch here and a scratch there, but if your dog has never ending problems with itching, it might be time to look into it. Just like us, dogs can develop allergies and sensitivities to certain foods or things in the environment like pollen, mold, types of grass and trees. They can also become allergic to the saliva of fleas when they bite, a condition known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), and have reactions with only one or two fleas on their body. Dogs can also come in contact with other parasites like lice and mites, or irritants like shampoo and medications. The common signs that your dog has itching or irritation include excessive scratching, biting, licking chewing, rubbing, scooting, foot chewing and redness of the skin. If you notice changes in the skin or your dog is starting to cause damage to their skin, contact your veterinarian for treatment options and to determine the cause. Chronic scratching that causes skin damage can also be a sign of a more serious skin disease or infection and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Medications like steroids, antihistamines, and medicated shampoos, creams, and sprays are usually prescribed to help dogs and their owners deal with the itching but recently a medication called Apoquel was brought back because of popular demand.
Apoquel helps relieve itching and inflammation caused by allergies or skin conditions. Apoquel is not a steroid or an antihistamine, it’s a different kind of medication that stops the itch at its source. It contains oclacitinib that works by blocking certain chemical substances produced by the body, called cytokines, which trigger the itching sensation, inflammation, and some allergic responses. In some dogs, it may start providing relief in as little as 4 hours with complete relief within 24 hours. Apoquel is labeled for short and long term use in dogs that are over 1 year of age. Before using, talk with your veterinarian about Apoquel and discuss your dog’s treatment options. See what other vets are saying about Apoquel.