If you’ve ever experienced a rash or another itchy skin condition, you know it can be downright uncomfortable. So, the next time you notice your dog or cat scratching, biting, or rubbing his skin against the furniture or another surface, don’t brush this behavior off as nothing. Itchy skin can result from a variety of medical conditions, from minor to serious, and should be discussed with your pet’s veterinarian. Depending on the cause, relief can sometimes be achieved by simply switching your pet’s food or sticking to a monthly flea and tick control program.
Below are ten reasons that pets experience itchy skin:
1. Environmental Allergies: Also known as atopic dermatitis, environmental allergies can trigger excessive scratching, licking, chewing or rubbing. Possible environmental culprits include dust, grass, tobacco, pollen, and mildew.
2. Fleas & Flea Bite Allergies: Flea bites are itchy for any pet, but for animals with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), the itchiness can be extreme. The scratching, chewing, and licking that accompanies FAD can often lead to infections. Protect your pet from this intensely itchy condition but sticking to a flea control regimen.
3. Ticks: These parasites aren’t always itchy, but they can be, especially if one attached to your pet around the ears. If your pet is scratching at one spot repeatedly, take a close look to see if a tick embedded itself into the skin.
4. Ear Mites: Ear mites are tiny parasites that feed on ear wax. Left untreated, ear mites can cause serious ear and skin infections and even hearing loss. If your pet is scratching at his ears, shaking his head, or rubbing his face against surfaces, it’s time to see a vet.
5. Sarcoptic Mange: Resulting from sarcoptic mites, mange can cause intense itching and hair loss. Prompt and aggressive treatment is necessary with this serious condition.
6. Food Allergies: One of the most common symptoms of food allergies in dogs and cats is skin irritation, including rashes, hives, and inflammation. If a food allergy is the culprit for your pet’s itching, a diet change will likely provide quick relief.
7. Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections, or pyoderma, are a common cause of itching and discomfort in dogs and cats. A vet can prescribe the proper treatment depending on the bacterium present.
8. Fungal Infection: This type of infection can appear in many parts of the body, including the skin. Some fungi, including ringworm, are contagious, so it’s important to get your pet to a vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
9. Yeast Infection: Pets naturally have yeast on their skin and in their ears, but overgrowth can cause an itchy and painful infection. Skin yeast infections are most common in places where there is skin to skin contact, like armpits or skin folds in wrinkled breeds.
10. Endocrine Disease: The endocrine system consists of glands that produce hormones, and delivers these hormones throughout the body. When the level of hormones produced is too low or too high, a wide range of complications can occur, including skin issues. Thyroid and cortisone levels are most likely to affect your pet’s skin health.