Why is My Furry Friend Itching??

Why is My Furry Friend Itching??

Have you ever seen your cat or dog scratching incessantly?  Maybe an ear or a belly, maybe a chin, maybe frequent paw-licking.  There are SO many reasons this could be happening, and your pet sitters in Chandler have some experience to share in this area.

Upon moving from Arizona to California with my senior kitty in 2004, I discovered her chewing her fur and pulling it out on her legs.  She looked like she was wearing shorts after a while!  A trip to the vet and several hundred dollars later, we sent out a blood sample to test her for allergies.  Eureka!  The major allergens came back as timothy grass, soy, human dander, fleas, rice, eggs, and a few other random things.  We got her started on allergy shots which were similar to human allergy shots, containing a very dilute amount of the allergen itself to desensitize her system.  We also started reading every label on every bag or can of food we fed to her to be sure it didn’t have any of the ingredients she was allergic too.  I wasn’t able to continually administer the allergy injections as required at the time, but did maintain strict dietary regulation.  You have no idea how much rice is found in cat food!  Over time, she stopped pulling out her fur and regrew it all.  No more kitty shorts!  The diet change worked.

When discussing itchy and scratchy pets with their guardians, the first thing I recommend is a grain-free diet.  So many pets are allergic to the low-quality grains in commercial pet food.  It can also take up to 4 months to see results from a diet change, and it will not work if you continue to feed treats which have any of the animal’s allergens.  The amount of by-products and fillers in low-quality pet food might also be triggering an allergic response.  So stepping up your furkids’ food to something high-quality is another strong recommendation.  Try “limited ingredient” diets which usually only contain one protein and one carbohydrate or starch.  This really narrows down the number of potential allergens in your furkids’ food.

Of course it may not be as easy as food allergies.  Environment allergies are a serious concern out here in the desert!  One of our clients pulled out all the grass in their backyard and re-seeded it with a different type on suspicion that their Bassett Hound was allergic to it.  This pet sitter in Chandler also has an itchy personal dog who was scratching all his fur out and had a thinning coat.  I started him on a low daily dose of Benedryl, and his skin and itchiness cleared right up.

There may also be a problem of yeast.  Yes, an overgrowth of yeast may be causing itchiness in ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.  You can try adding probiotics and plain non-fat yogurt to your furbabies’ food to control this issue.  I have also had a cat with an ear infection caused by yeast so clearly this issue is more prevalent than you may realize!

Of course hot spots can also cause irritation.  I’ve seen this in dogs that are in the pound who are stressed out and begin scratching or licking one spot on their skin.  It can become a huge, open, red, inflamed wound very quickly.  One particular dog I rescued named Suede had a very large hot spot when I first found her at the shelter.  Once the pup was out of the shelter and her stress level was reduced, I used a specialized hot spot spray to soothe the skin.  It cleared up nicely!  Similarly, simple anxiety or separation anxiety when a pet parent leaves home can cause a beloved furkid to scratch themselves silly.

Suede gets 'busted out' of the shelter. She's happy. :)

Suede gets ‘busted out’ of the shelter. She’s happy. 🙂

Suede's hot spot from stress and scratching - ouch!

Suede’s hot spot from stress and scratching – ouch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Chandler pet sitter wants you to watch out for fleas and ticks causing itching also! Although fleas aren’t as common in the Phoenix area, I still see them regularly on rescued kittens living on the streets.  They can definitely cause itching, especially if the kiddo has a flea allergy.  Mange and ringworm are also external parasites that can induce intense scratching and hair loss.  Fortunately, these are all easily treatable!

There are many potential causes for itchy skin, and a trip to your vet is the first order of business.  But keep these in mind as you research help for your uncomfortable furkid. Hopefully they won’t be itchy and scratchy any longer! If you are looking for dog sitting in Chandler, why not call the experts who know about pet itchiness?

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