Oct 7, 2011 6:59 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP
Q: How can I get my dog to stop scratching, when he has no fleas or hot spots? I think he is either OCD and does it out of habit, or doesn't even realize he does it.
A: Itchiness may be the most common reason we see pets at Animal Care Clinic - and it can be the most frustrating problem to figure out!
The most common causes of itchiness in pets are inhaled allergies (hayfever or Atopic disease) and fleas. Other causes of itching include secondary infections, seborrhea, food allergies, contact allergies, mites, yeast infections, excessive undercoat, ringworm and even certain tumors.
Determining the cause of itchiness will require a long conversation between you and your veterinarian, a very thorough physical examination and perhaps some simple tests such as a skin scraping or scotch tape impression smear viewed under the microscope. Sometimes a biopsy is required.
Treatments range from simple things like good flea control, shampoo therapy and fish oil supplements, to more complicated plans including antibiotics, antifungals, immunosuppressants, allergy injections, special diets and more!
Some animals do scratch, chew or excessively groom for behavioral reasons and this can often be addressed with a good exam and full history.
All itchy pets should see their veterinarian before secondary infections set in making it harder to diagnose and treat. Be sure to be prepared with a good helping of patience if you have a chronically itchy pet!
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