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O' Halloran Hill Vet Centre

Itchy Skin in Dogs

Itching, also known as pruritus in medical jargon, is one of the most common reasons owners bring their pets to visit us. To solve the condition, a veterinarian must first determine what is causing it. And that can be difficult.


Allergic skin disease. Atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin condition. In South Australia, this is probably the most common cause of chronic or seasonal itchiness in dogs. Dogs can develop skin symptoms such as rashes, scabs, pustules, ear infections, backside rubbing, and plain scratching in response to an allergen that has been inhaled, absorbed, touched, injected (by an insect, for example), or ingested. And, as we all know, itchiness leads to skin damage, inflammation, and infection.
Yeast infection. Yeast infections (Malassezia) are notoriously irritating. Yeast infections in dogs are almost always caused by an allergic skin condition. The skin has a greasy sensation and a “fruity” odour to it.
Fleas. Itching is very common as a result of these insects. Flea bites are uncomfortable enough on their own, but when a pet is sensitive to flea bites, even a small amount of flea saliva can cause significant issues for your pet. We generally see significant flea problems in the warmer months, as fleas require 70 percent humidity to develop.
Ringworm infection: This fungal condition is known as dermatophytosis and is not a worm at all. It can also be itchy for certain pets.
Mites and other creepy crawlies. Mange mites are itch-inducing parasites. Mange mites come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can reside on the skin's surface or deep into pores and follicles. The sarcoptic mange mite is transmitted to dogs by foxes and wombats. Although lice can induce irritation, their frequency of incidence and itch potential are lower on the list.
Bacterial infections. As it does with yeast, animal skin can get really unhappy in the presence of bacteria. In dogs and cats, allergic skin disease is the leading cause of persistent bacterial skin infections.
Non-skin diseases. Itching can be caused by a variety of general disorders that present in the skin. Hypothyroidism in dogs, autoimmune disorders, and psychogenic/behavioural abnormalities are all examples.


How Can You Help Your Pet at Home?

Use external parasite preventives all year round. Make sure you are using the correct product that meets your pet's needs. Ask us to recommend the best products for your pet.
Bathe your pet. If your pet is itchy, bath him. Shampoos designed to soothe irritation, fight infection, and reduce pruritus are available. However, it's critical to seek our advice on the appropriate product to use as not all shampoos are equal.
Keep pets well groomed. Hair that is too long or untidy can cause irritation, infection, and itching. Fleas and other signs of skin disorders can also be hidden by matted fur.
See us at the first sign of discomfort. Take your dog to the vet if he is licking, pawing, scratching, or biting himself. Early intervention is typically the key to long-term treatment success.


What To Expect During Your Pets Skin Consult 

History. Most vets will begin by asking a few questions to learn more about the problem and what you may have tried in the past. When did you notice the itching for the first time? Has anything changed? Otherwise, how has your pet been? What do you usually do to keep your pet's skin healthy? What medications or products are you currently using? Bring these items with you so that your veterinarian can view them (and so that you don't forget about them).
Physical examination. A thorough examination of the entire body, not just the skin, is an important part of the consultation. Your veterinarian will examine the skin for lesions (bald spots, rashes, redness, pustules, scrapes, and so on) as well as evidence of external parasites.
Pathology. Scraping the very surface of the skin with a metal scalpel blade, or collecting a hair sample, and examining the cells under a microscope can help your veterinarian determine whether mites might be living just beneath the surface of the skin. Other pathology can include blood tests, swab tests, or biopsies.
Food trials. If your vet suspects your pet may have a food allergy, a food trial may be recommended. Eliminating all but a few ingredients in a pet’s diet for a period of time can help isolate which proteins a pet may be allergic to.
Referral. Some patients may require a referral to an allergy specialist. Sophisticated skin or blood testing can help determine which allergens a pet might be reacting to.
It can be very distressing to see your pet constantly scratching or licking, especially when you don’t know how to help them. It is well worth getting them checked by a vet. We have many treatments available to help, even natural approaches. We work with you to come up with the best plan to help 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