Here are a few main reasons that pets may itch:
Fleas: Its pretty hard to keep your pets from going outside when the weather is nice, but once outside there is no stopping those fleas looking for a quick blood meal on your pet. Pets pick up fleas virtually anywhere. Once your pet has fleas, each flea can surprisingly lay up to 50 eggs a day! These eggs are shed into the home environment and before you know it you have thousands of fleas taking over the house. Adult fleas only represent 5 per cent of the flea problem – the other 95 per cent are tiny eggs, larvae and pupae in your home environment. For every flea you see, there could be hundreds that you don’t, lurking in your carpet, on your furniture or in your bed.
Dry skin: Your pet may have dry skin. Part your cat or dog’s fur and see if you can identify flakes or dandruff or dry, tough skin. Dry skin may be caused by your pet food, because many commercial products process out the good oils that contribute to healthy skin and a lustrous coat. Dry foods can have a dehydrating effect. Your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo and for some dogs a reduction in bathing.
Allergies: Dogs’ allergies usually stem from one of three things: environment, food or fleas. Allergies can rarely be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. Many vets will recommend a change in diet, particularly the introduction of fish oil, flax seed or antihistamines. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is through a strict elimination diet. Believe it or not, they even have allergy injections for dogs! Some of the things that may cause dog allergies include:
- Grass types
- Dust and house mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Certain ingredients in pet foods
- Cleaning products
It is important to note that food allergies are not restricted to puppies; your dog may develop an allergy to his food out of the blue.
If your dog’s skin condition worsens, see a veterinarian to rule out other causes for his itching, like mange, infection or ringworm.