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Causes Of Itching, Scratching & Hair Loss In Dogs

One of the most frustrating conditions for pet owners (particularly in the warmer months) is having a pet with a persistent itch. Why? Because an itchy pet can be one of the hardest conditions to manage.
Many conditions can cause your pet to itch. Allergies are often labeled as allergic dermatitis, and like human allergies, it’s often seasonal pollens, and spores in the air that create the sudden onset of skin irritation. 
Whilst humans tend to get hay fever, our pets present with itchy skin or recurrent ear problems.


Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Licking or chewing a particular area
  • Excessive scratching
  • Itchy ears
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Rubbing of the face with their paws
  • Snoring or reverse sneezing
  • Hair loss


How is Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing the cause is often quite challenging. A thorough history combined with diagnostic tests and your everyday observations can help determine the source of the problem. It is a process of elimination. Some medications may work, others may not. Every pet is unique, and sometimes, your pet may require a referral to a veterinary dermatologist.


What is the ‘Process of Elimination’?

There may be more than one cause of your pet's itch. Providing your vet with as much history as you can, can help narrow the field. This includes details of the current flea control used, diet, sleeping/bedding areas, recent changes to environment or routines, and any previous treatments (even home remedies) you have tried and the outcome of them. Once the field has been narrowed, an appropriate and personalised treatment plan can be developed for your pet. Sometimes your pets' itch can be quickly managed, however, sometimes it can be a slow process requiring multiple vet rechecks, medication changes, and careful management.


Management and treatment

The treatment of atopic dermatitis is largely dependent on the underlying cause. Initially, your vet will want to provide immediate short-term relief to your pet. This often consists of injections, tablets, and shampoos. Whilst this will be effective to start, be prepared that this is not dealing with the underlying cause of your pet's itch. 
Keeping your vet informed of responses to treatments and regular revisits is paramount to ensuring the allergies are effectively managed. Whilst the initial relief may seem to be a miracle cure, it will not have long-lasting effects, so don’t cancel that revisit, your pet's itch will often require ongoing treatment and medication past the first presentation of the problem.


Managing an itchy pet can be an ongoing battle. Just as you think you’ve got it controlled, something can change, and what worked so well, now no longer helps. 
We understand how frustrating it can be, but with regular check-ups and communication with your vet, many treatments can provide relief - we just need to find what combination works best for you and your pet.
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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033