Does the sound of your pet constantly itching themselves drive you up to the wall? Do they rub their bodies against furniture and flooring, chew at their body or groom themselves persistently? Although some degree of scratching is very normal for pets, when it gets out of control and your furry friend seems to be itching all the time, there is nearly always a very good reason for it. Fortunately, this means that there is almost certainly a way that you can help them, but first, you need to get to the bottom of what is causing the incessant need to scratch.
Why is my Pet Itching all the Time and What Can I do to Alleviate Their Irritation?
There might be a number of different reasons why your furry pal is compulsively scratching, licking, biting and chewing their body. Here are some of the main causes of obstinate itching and what you can do to help your pet.
Many people associate scratching with fleas and with good reason. After all, the presence of tiny creatures roaming on your body is enough to make anyone feel itchy. However, for pets who have flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), the name given to an allergic reaction to flea saliva, this itchiness can become unbearable and animals will go to virtually any length to alleviate the irritation. This means aggressive, uncontrollable scratching to the point that skin becomes inflamed, broken and infected. For animals with FAD, just a single flea bite can be enough to cause intense itching that can last for weeks.
Fleas are hard to spot due to their small size, however, they do leave behind excrement that looks like dirt and should be noticeable when brushing your pet's fur. If you suspect that your pet has fleas it is important to get them treated right away as they can multiply at an unprecedented rate. Make sure you treat your pet and home at the same time and continue to vacuum daily for up to a month to ensure that you have eradicated all traces of the infestation.
Animals can develop allergies too and environmental allergies are one of the most common that affect our pets here in Gainesville, Florida. These are when the allergic reaction is caused by exposure to an allergen that is present in the environment – such as tree or grass pollen, smoke or dust. Also known as atrophy, these allergies typically manifest with skin-related symptoms including hives, dermatitis, itching, and inflammation. In rare instances, pets may also experience respiratory symptoms including wheezing, coughing, and sneezing.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies and all that can be done is to help manage your pet’s condition as best as you can. This will involve avoiding the allergen as much as possible and taking medications to limit your pet’s immune systems response to it.
It isn’t just environmental allergies that can cause intense itching. Food allergies, which account for as many as 15% of allergies seen in pets, can also cause symptoms that include hives and extreme itchiness as well as gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Just like environmental allergies, the best thing that you do is to try and ensure that your pet avoids eating the ingredient that is causing the reaction. To do this, it may be necessary to put your pet on an elimination diet to determine exactly which allergen is affecting your pet. Your vet will be able to help you with this time-consuming but valuable process.
A poor quality diet
Aside from food allergies, there is another food-related issue that has been known to cause a persistent itch amongst pets – a poor quality diet. While there are countless food products available to purchase, they are not all created equal and many owners have been lured in by colorful packaging and clever marketing ploys only to find that the actual nutritional value of the food that they have purchased is sub-standard. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy, happy pet and foods that are packed with cheap ingredients such as corn and by-products are well-known for triggering a range of health issues in animals, including allergies and general symptoms including extreme itchiness.
Make sure that you research thoroughly when it comes to picking the best food for your pet. Ask your vet if they operate a nutritional counseling service whereby they can assess your pet’s needs and recommend a diet specifically to meet them.
If your pet’s itching is driving you crazy and you would like the advice and support of a professional, our experienced and knowledgeable team would be delighted to help. Please contact Shores Animal Hospital in Gainesville, FL to arrange an appointment by calling (352) 289-8540.