A head scratching problem!

Summer is upon us, the days are definitely getting warmer and you may be noticing your pets are scratching more. Skin problems can often start with seasonal changes and can often get worse before they get better! Skin problems can be a challenge, so it can be hard to figure out why furry friends are itchy; parasites and skin allergies are among the primary culprits.

Fleas enjoy the warmer weather and often flourish in our homes, especially as our pets spend more time outside. Only 5% of the adult flea population lives on our pets and the majority of the problem can be found crawling around in our flooring. Unfortunately adult fleas lay eggs which fall off and hatch into larvae, which then live in our carpets and bedding, the larvae then change to flea pupae. Pupae can survive for quite a long period of time before changing to the fleas we see. This is why one flea treatment on our pets will not solve a flea problem. Fleas can also be a host for tapeworms so it is important to use a tapewormer as part of your parasite control.

Some of our pets suffer from flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea saliva, so even the odd flea bite can cause our pets to scratch and cause themselves a lot of harm. This may require antibiotics or anti-itch medication. It is therefore important to keep up to date with regular flea treatments on all your animals, so fleas do not get out of control. If a heavy infestation is noted an environmental spray maybe required. There are a variety of different products available from spot-ons to tablets to collars; some will even do repel or kill ticks and some affect worms too. Why not give us a call to find out which suits you and your pet best? You may also like to consider joining our Avenue Healthcare Club which spreads the cost of flea and worm treatment monthly whilst making a great saving too.

Fleas are often easy to diagnose as we can see the fleas or flea faeces in our pets’ coats. Other causes of itchiness such as allergies can be a little more frustrating to diagnose. An allergy is the body responding inappropriately to a normal stimulus in a hypersensitive way. We see allergies to all sorts of things including food, dust mites and pollens.

Diagnosing allergies often means eliminating other causes like parasites, fungi, or bacterial infections. What is even more frustrating is there is no cure! We can manage the clinical signs associated with cats and dogs itchiness and often make them feel a lot more comfortable but we can not get rid of the cause; because allergens are ever present in our environment -just like us with hay fever! Diagnosing and treating allergies can be time consuming and costly so please forgive us for mentioning this again but this is a prime example of why we recommend pet insurance.

Although allergies can be difficult to manage, these are some things you can do to alleviate the itchiness, especially if related to pollens. Wash your dog’s feet after walking, avoid letting cats out/ going for walk during high pollen counts, consider nutritional support like omega 3 (we may recommend a hypoallergenic diet if your pets allergy is related to food) and ensure parasite control is given regularly (we don’t need any other reason for them to scratch). This doesn’t include prescription medications we may prescribe if they are really itchy and cause sores. If you think your pet may be scratching an abnormal amount, whether due to some unwanted guests or a possible allergy, why not ring the surgery or visit us to discuss further.