August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month. Zoetis, a veterinary medication developer and manufacturer, created the event to raise awareness about itchy skin and pet skin allergies. The company encourages veterinary practices to engage in outreach to educate pet owners about the signs of pet skin allergies.
Many veterinary practices engage in social media campaigns during the month to provide information about veterinary skin health and to offer guidance about when to reach out for help when pets appear to be suffering from skin conditions.
Is Itchy Skin Common in Cats and Dogs?
Itchy skin is one of the most common veterinary complaints, and allergies are one of the leading causes of itchy skin in cats and dogs. Several irritants can trigger the condition, inducing allergies to food, fleas, and dust mites. Pets can also react to products that come into contact with their skin, such as laundry detergent or shampoo.
Common skin allergy signs include itchy red skin, scratching, licking, and biting. Some pets have frequent ear infections. Hot spots, extremely irritated patches of skin, and hair loss are also frequently seen.
How Are Skin Allergies in Pets Diagnosed?
The first step in treating allergies is to determine the underlying cause. But figuring out what pets are sensitive to can take a bit of trial and error since so many possible triggers exist. As an initial step, many veterinarians recommend flea treatments to rule out flea bite allergies.
Elimination diets are often used to identify food allergies. Proteins such as chicken and beef are the most common culprits in cats and dogs. Wheat, dairy products, and eggs can also cause reactions in some pets. Determining precisely what food a pet is allergic to often involves removing potential triggers from the animal’s diet, slowly re-introducing products, and observing the animal’s reaction.
Contact allergies can be easier to spot than environmental and food allergies, as they’re usually a response to a product that has recently come into direct contact with an animal’s fur or skin, like shampoo, conditioner, or laundry detergent. It’s often possible to narrow down which product is prompting the itching by using the process of elimination.
How Are Skin Allergies in Pets Treated?
Identifying and avoiding whatever triggers pets’ allergies usually produces the best outcomes. Keeping pets away from things that cause them to itch is far easier than trying to prevent an allergic reaction.
There are several options for cats and dogs that need a bit more help controlling their allergies, including antihistamines, immunosuppressive therapy, allergy shots, and even steroids. Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids may help move things in the right direction by supporting pets’ overall coat and skin health.
Baths provide relief to some pets with itchy skin by getting rid of triggers such as pollen and other environmental irritants. But speak with a veterinarian before deciding to go down this path since frequent bathing has the potential to dry pets’ skin, making their itchy skin worse.
Specialty diets are often recommended for dogs and cats diagnosed with food allergies. Pets with these sensitivities sometimes improve when fed either a hydrolyzed or novel protein diet. Hydrolyzed protein diets are prescription options featuring protein molecules too tiny for canine and feline immune systems to recognize and react to.
Novel protein diets involve feeding pets food with uncommon protein sources. It’s also possible to create homemade novel protein diets with the assistance of a veterinary nutritionist.
Are There Any Other Ways to Minimize Pet Allergic Reactions?
You can minimize the time pets spend outside when the pollen count is high, and frequent vacuuming and dusting may also help some pets with allergies. Look for unscented cleaning products and minimize the use of air fresheners and other scented spray and aerosol products. Regular flea treatments and prescription diets may help improve some pets’ allergies.
August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month. It was created to raise awareness about pet skin allergies. Many veterinarians around the US engage in campaigns to help spread the word about the importance of cat and dog skin health and to educate pet parents about the signs and most common causes of skin allergies. The treatment for itchy skin varies depending on the cause, but veterinarians can help pet parents identify triggers and develop appropriate treatment plans.
Featured Image: Pixabay