Vet Blog

What to Do When Your Pet Is Itching, and You’ve Tried Everything

May 31, 2019

Pets scratch…. a lot!

In fact, it isn't until you sit and watch your pet for a while that you realize how often. Itching oneself is a completely normal activity for humans and pets alike and in fact, it is a defense mechanism to remove something that is causing irritation. It can also be very pleasurable and some animals scratch purely because they enjoy the sensation. However, if your pet is itching all the time and/or is itching so aggressively that he is damaging his skin and coat, then it could be that there is an underlying problem. One of the most common reasons for pets to scratch is fleas.

Fleas are a common parasite that virtually all furry pets will suffer from during their lifetime unless their preventative medication is fully effective and given on time, every time. These tiny, wingless creatures drink the blood of their host to survive and reproduce at an enormous rate, enabling what can start as a handful of fleas to turn into a huge infestation within a couple of months. Hundreds of tiny parasites crawling over your pet's skin is a good enough reason for him to be itchy. However, there is another issue that can arise as a result of a flea infestation that can increase that itching tenfold. It is known as flea allergy dermatitis. If your pet is itching and you have tried everything you can to get him to stop, it could be that he is allergic to fleas.

What Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

Flea allergy dermatitis is the name given to skin lesions that occur as a result of your pet is allergic to fleas - or rather flea saliva. Flea saliva contains a complex blend of proteins that many pets are hypersensitive to. In fact, in some animals, it can take just a single flea bite to induce uncontrollable itching and the development of skin lesions all over your pet's body, not just where he has been bitten.

When your pet is itching persistently, he can cause damage to his body including rashes, hair loss, open wounds on the skin, and even skin infections. In dogs, flea allergy rashes tend to occur on the rear of the body, in particular, the hind legs and tail. In cats, it is more likely to affect their face and neck and you may see your feline rubbing his face against the floor and furniture as well as using his claws to alleviate the itch.

What Can I Do If My Pet Is Scratching and Itching All the Time?

The most important thing that you can do to help your pet is to find out exactly what is causing your pet to scratch. Sure, fleas and flea allergy dermatitis might be two of the most common causes of intense itching, but it shouldn't be assumed that this is what is affecting your pet. There are other parasites and allergies that can cause severe itching and you will need to obtain a diagnosis from your Orlando veterinarian in order to start the appropriate treatment to help your pet. This will involve your vet carrying out a full assessment of the health and condition of your furbaby, including a physical examination. If your pet does have fleas or another external parasite, this may become evident on checking him over. However, if there is no sign of fleas or any other infestation, it may be that his itching is being caused by an internal problem such as a food allergy.

Only a professional knows the best way to determine what is causing your pet the misery of persistent itching. Don't delay, contact our veterinary team at Your Family Veterinarian in Orlando, FL to schedule an appointment for your furry, itchy friend. Call (407) 568-9663 today!