Following on from common causes for an itchy pooch we are looking at things you can try to manage it.
This differs depending on the cause:
• Fleas – remove fleas from your dog by using an effective flea product regularly, which kills the fleas as quickly as possible so there is less time for them to cause itch. This is important as a single flea can cause your dog to be itchy. You also need to treat the environment primarily by vacuuming and washing bedding.
• Inhaled allergies (Atopy)– Usually treated with corticosteroids or other immune suppressive drugs. Antihistamines are sometimes effective. Oatmeal shampoos, and fatty acids in diet are also important (see below)
• Food allergy – After identifying the problem protein with a food allergy elimination trial- avoid it! Avoidance of the protein causing the itch is the best method of management. You may be able to feed a commercial food or need to do a home cooked diet depending on the allergen.
• Contact allergy- Avoid the plants that cause the itch- at home and when you’re out and about. Change where you exercise your fur kid and keep them on the leash so that they can’t come into contact the allergen. Remove the weeds or plants from your yard or make a barrier so they can’t enter that section. Trad (or Tradescantia albiflora) is a ground cover and a major cause of contact allergy- it’s very difficult to remove as it keeps growing back so you need to be vigilant.
Bathe your dog if they do come into contact with the allergen to remove it from their coat.
• Mites- Demodectic mange- This is easily diagnosed by the vet with skin scrapings and this condition is mainly treated with oral medication to kill the mite which can be very involved and long term (months). It’s not contagious. As the mite is in the follicle, medicated washes and treatment of secondary infection are also important.
• Mites- Sarcoptic mange: This can be easily treated with a number of products including topical spot ons and rinses. In some cases it can be difficult to find any mites under the microscope so a trial of therapy may be advised regardless and you will know if this is the cause within a few weeks. This causes intense itch and is very contagious- also to humans.
It’s important to know that allergies can have an additive effect and as such your dog becomes itchy once a ‘threshold’ is met- so to reduce the amount of allergens for an itchy fur kid they should be on a good flea control regardless of the cause.
Shampoos are another key to management of itchy canines. Regular bathing with colloidal oatmeal shampoos and conditioners are very effective. Ensure they are specifically for dogs as humans have a different skin pH and as such our products just are not appropriate.
Omega fatty acids are also a good addition to management for your itchy companion as they are a natural anti-inflammatory for the skin.
If your dog has scabs or sores on their skin you need to get to your veterinary clinic for tests in case of parasites, infection, atopy, internal medical conditions, immune mediated disease or neoplasia.